Artist and co-founder of supplement powerhouse Powderful, Chamberlain Newsome is set to help friends, family and clients with her company’s unique blend of mushrooms, adaptogens, antioxidant-filled spices and Zinc. Born of her desire to boost immunity during the pandemic, now, Powderful is being used to sustain new choices for healthier living through Covid and beyond.
Originally from New Jersey and now splitting her time between Brooklyn, NY, and Oaxaca, Mexico, this focus isn’t new for Newsome. Always aware of how different foods made her feel, she ran cross country and was on the swim team, loving the natural high she got from sports. During high school, she developed an eating disorder, but was able to recover from it more than 10 years ago, giving her further insight and connection to the importance of diet, not only on the body, but on the mind and soul, too.
Now, after years working in fashion and arts, she has returned to her wellness world roots, leading Powderful alongside nutritionist Nicola Cartwright. Below, she walks us through how Powderful turned from concept to company, as well as her tools for both her business and personal life.
SBS:What was your professional path on the way to Powderful?
Chamberlin Newsome: My professional path on the way here was a completely different direction. I was in fashion design for 10 years before leaving that world to focus on my art. Prior to that, I was doing installation immersive art design, my own art illustrations, as well as helping at art fairs whenever possible. I wore so many different hats all of the time to survive in NYC. It’s funny because I loved it so much I never imagined I would be doing what I am now. And now, I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’ve loved all of my careers right up until something made me look another way, becoming obsessively curious about a new direction.
SBS: What was your mission in starting Powderful?
CN: In the beginning, it was as simple as helping keep our friends and family healthy from Covid by boosting their immunity. Since then it has evolved to empower people to feel their best in their mind, body and soul.
SBS: Tell us all about Powderful, including best uses, ingredients and how it’s different from other options…
CN: My partner Michael had been mixing a concoction of powders ever since I met him. We drank a tincture of adaptogens, mushrooms, and spices for years. When the pandemic happened, we started researching even more ingredients to help boost our immune system. We were delighted that when we mixed them all together they actually tasted delicious. We decided to make a big batch and give it to friends and family that were interested. We had struggled to find a mix out there that actually had an amount of each ingredient to make a difference. We were tired of wasting money on these things. Then when we started to get requests to purchase it, we decided to take it more seriously.
SBS: How did you and Nicola decide to work together? What was that collaboration like as the company started, as well as it has evolved?
CN: It was really important to us to make a product that actually worked, as well as, tasted good. For this we needed an expert, which is where Nicola came in. I remember the day so clearly. I was coworking at our friend's coliving space Lighting Society in Brooklyn, and someone mentioned I should talk to her because of her nutritionist background. Turns out she also has a whole background in the supplement industry, too! I couldn’t believe it. After an initial meeting with her to pick her brain, I knew I wanted to work with her. She officially joined us and helped fine tune the recipe to make sure it had the proper doses and synergistic ingredients. I now talk to her as much or more than my partner. We both really believe in this product, take it daily, and want to help others as much as it has helped us.
SBS: What is the shape of the company now, and what are your hopes for its growth?
CN: We really want this product to reach as many people as possible. I truly believe that Mother Nature has given us so many tools to help heal ourselves and manage this crazy world we live in. I’ve been on many different medications for depression, disorders, ADHD, and now I’m dealing with an autoimmune disease with a hyperthyroid. I’ve worked hard to clear my body of all prescribed substances and still find balance and happiness.
Powderful has truly helped me find the balance I need from a natural approach. I’m not against medication, but I do feel we’re over prescribed today. I think I’ve been over-prescribed for a good portion of my life. Perhaps I wanted to be, but the more sober I become the clearer I see why it’s detrimental to society to be so medicated,and how a more natural approach is better for me.
As for Powderful as a company and its growth, we’re already dreaming of other more targeted mixes focusing specifically on libido, focus, healthy skin, and more. Powderful is one of my babies. Part of me doesn’t want it to grow up too fast, so that we can really focus on building a core community and feel like we’re part of an empowering project. Then the other part of me realizes the bigger we are, the more people we are helping. So my biggest hope is that we continue to stay true to our company values and remain authentic to Powderful’s mission, which is to empower people to feel their best in their mind, body, and soul.
SBS: How did you make the actual leap to your own company? What were the challenges and happy surprises along the way?
CN: It was really one step at a time…not necessarily a decision, just something that happened. I always had too many other work distractions to make this anything more than a passion project, but then the pandemic shifted everything. I had time to dream of something new. Our friend Zim was hanging out with us one day and he mentioned he thought the product could be something. So we started to dream of what that would look and feel like.
I think the biggest surprise along the way was that I got pregnant, which added a whole new paradigm shift, as well as time challenge. It has been one of the most challenging things of my life to figure all of these new roles at once. But I’m so lucky to have incredible people around me cheering me on, supporting me in many different ways, and teaching me daily. This product would still be hand-mixed in my home and a pipe dream if it were not for Michael, Nicola, Zim and Monica. Powderful wouldn’t be what it is today without all the people that have tried it and given feedback along the way.
SBS: What are your tips for someone starting their own business, especially a nutritional product company?
CN: Take it one step at a time and don’t get caught too far in the future and paralyze yourself. You never know how you end up somewhere sometimes. And while I am a huge advocate for designing your life, dreaming and planning, sometimes you just have to keep moving. When you don’t know how it will get done, just keep working, ask a lot of questions and don’t be too shy to ask for help. Network and be organized. I am a disaster and constantly trying to be more organized.
Also, know your stuff and keep learning more. I am a witchy dreamer that wants to make potions, but I’m still learning what works and doesn’t. It’s fun to dream, but when it comes to nutrition, you want to make sure it works. Nicola is the mad scientist in our company with a wealth of knowledge. Make sure someone in the company knows what’s up.
SBS: What is advice you would give to yourself starting the brand from what you know now? What would you have done differently?
CN: Honestly if I knew what I knew now I would have started Instagram and Tik Tok in a whole different way a year before we actually had a product: focusing on natural community growth and sharing of really cool information without the stress of needing to sell a product.
SBS: What do you look for in team members/staff?
CN: I look for a good communicator, someone with similar values, someone who is a hard worker, fun and passionate about the product. I look for skills I don’t have.
SBS: What's your wellness routine like? What's your version of self-care?
CN: This depends on where I am. When I’m in Mexico, everything is a bit slower. I start every day with Powderful and try to wait at least 90 to 120 minutes before having any caffeine to maximize its effects without a crash. We start the day with a dip in the ocean with Rex and a few stretches on the beach. Since having him, I have diastasis recti (which is a separation of your abs), so I do these very boring exercises to try to strengthen my transabdominal muscles. Three days a week I try to go for a run.
In New York it’s a whole other animal. I start the day the same with Powderful and delayed caffeine intake. For me it is the one moment in the day that I pause and feel like I am doing something good for my mind and body. I think about what needs to happen in the day, Rex takes a few sips and we say what we are grateful for before blowing out our breakfast candle. It is super cute. I dream of the day I find more balance with working out, but right now I don't have any help with Rex (except when my incredible friends come by to play with him so I can do whatever is pressing at the moment). So I work when he sleeps, and he is the boss when he is awake.
We get our workouts with walks and carrying him, the stroller, groceries and anything else a toddler needs up and down six flights of stairs multiple times daily. It is exhausting but I am so grateful for the time I get with him at this age. It is the cutest thing in the whole world. He teaches me all the important things about life and then Nicola teaches me all the important things about grammar and business, and I look forward to Mexico when I can balance it all out in a more productive, zen way.
SBS: How do you manage all of your different activities, both in practical tools and your mental/emotional approach?
CN: By drinking Powderful! It’s shameless self-promotion but I mean it. I stopped drinking it for a month when I was leaving Mexico because I ran out. And that’s when I realized how powerful this product is. I felt all of the stress in a very negative way, couldn’t sleep, my skin felt dry, and I was super distracted by everything and felt like I couldn’t think.
The other key ingredient in my life is recognizing the beauty of asking for help and having friends and family that are awesome. There are so many times I feel completely overwhelmed and just want to be alone and gross and hide away in my room; I get mad that I can’t just hire someone to come help me that won’t judge me and the fact that I’ve worn the same outfit almost every day that week because my washer is broken. And even if it wasn’t broken, it’s possible I would still be in the same outfit!
However, the beauty of it all is that I can do all of the above with my friends and family if I need to, and no one is judging me. When they show up at my door with a hug and nothing but love for me and my Rex, my heart explodes with gratitude and makes me realize over and over again why community and the village are really what it’s all about. Their support makes me want to be better…and really excited for outfit changes.
The biggest actual tool is Google calendar. If it isn’t on there, I will not be there. As for mental health, it’s cheesy, but the most powerful tool in the world to shift your perspective is to be grateful. Try it anytime. It works.
SBS: How has your life changed professionally and personally since COVID started?
CN: My life has done a complete 180 since Covid. Before Covid I was supporting myself with my illustrations and paintings, but mostly paying my bills with installation management for immersive experiences. I had a passion for ones focused on raising awareness on climate change.
I was supposed to head to California for a bit for a big install that was canceled. It’s funny: I felt like I finally found my stride in the arts and was in a place I felt good about. I was excited about what I was working on and the people I was doing it with. I would definitely still be doing that if it were not for Covid.
However, my life as it is now would not be possible if I had not continued to reinvent myself and move through this world as the best version of me. Perhaps that is the greatest art there is anyway. After all, I am not the same person I was before Covid. It completely changed me and how I want to live my life. I do miss art and have some possibly exciting news on that horizon, too.
The best, zaniest part of being Chamberlin: I really like finding humor and light in the darker sides of humanity. Allowing myself or others to embody this at times, without judgment, helps me understand life, them, and myself, to better work through things with a comical, possibly inappropriate, perspective. Perhaps it’s why I love chihuahuas and hate polka dots.
Chamberlin’s SBS Mantra: I love them all, but right now I resonate with Be Grateful.
Chamberlin’s NY Faves:
Healthy Restaurant: The Butcher's Daughter
Splurge Restaurant: Llama Inn
Fun Activity: Sleeping, or dancing with my friends, usually at Lightning Society
Calming Activity: Hanging out at Domino Park in Brooklyn at the fountain area with Rex and a friend
Yoga Studio: Modo Yoga or Yoga to the People
Athleticwear: I tend to stick with Nike but also get hand-me-downs or whatever the second-hand store has. I am not super picky, just as long as it’s high-waisted and a solid color (usually black). I hate working out in patterns for some reason.
Athletic Shoes: Nike
Books: Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares, and next up, This Is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan