This Mission-Driven Company Is Shaking Up The Junk Food Industry
Natasha James wants to build a holistic hospital one day. As the founder of Rawcells, a purpose-driven company that serves herbal and plant-based treats, James is committed to making the world a more conscious and wellness-oriented place, one dessert at a time.
As a child, Natasha found herself indulging in the junk food offerings available to her, unaware—as most children are—of the possible health consequences of consuming poor-quality food on such a consistent basis. In retrospect, Natasha suspects her early diagnosis of ADHD was linked to her incessant consumption of the artificial and chemically derived ingredients often found in junk food. "I used to have a lot of anxiety, and I couldn’t focus. At 11, I was seeking remedies in the form of both pharmaceuticals and naturals for my ADHD."
It wasn’t until James became an employee at a raw vegan Jamaican cafe in her hometown of Virginia that she learned about the basics of food—where it comes from, how it’s prepared, and how to use food to heal the mind and body.
"I didn’t want to be limited in how I wanted to make an impact on the world," she says of her entrepreneurial dreams. And with this new food experience, she suddenly saw a void in the market to bridge the gap between sweet treats and holistic awareness for the everyday person. She soon dove headfirst into the world of plant and herbal medicine to learn about the healing qualities of ingredients at the cellular level—she also absorbed research and case studies on how these ingredients could improve one's overall health and mental fitness.
"Sweets are an easy way to get people in the door and introduce them to what can be delicious—and how veganism can make you feel," says Natasha. One scan through Rawcells' offerings, and it’s clear that James was thoroughly inspired by her favorite childhood snacks; think: gut-friendly Twinkies, adaptogen-infused candy bars, and brain-boosting brownies.
"I think the element of nostalgia is key for us. People are more open to trying new things that look familiar," shares James on the almost immediate buzz and enthusiastic clientele the company has garnered since its inception. "Many of my customers are always really shocked by the health benefits of our candy bars. They’ll usually say, 'Wow, I can’t believe this helped with feeling more energized in the morning.' They enjoy the taste but also the feeling they get when they consume our products." Some have even gone on to explore the possibility of veganism on their own terms.
With this holistic perspective in mind, James even went as far as considering color therapy for the brand’s packaging. "I started researching color therapy and how certain colors affect our subconscious in different ways. And how that affects folks with other illnesses."
In a world where the cup of wellness and health trends and chatter runneth over, James is quick to recognize that it takes a lot more than healthy vegan treats packaged in millennial pink to shift the conversation about healthy living. "It’s not gonna be a lifestyle if you’re not understanding the real reasons it’s so valuable. When I think of wellness, food isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. It’s about your mental health, your compassion for yourself and others."
So what does the future of wellness look like to James?
For starters, inclusivity and broadening the scope of what healthy food looks like. "I want to make it easy to adopt a holistic lifestyle. It’s about building a bridge for people to connect. It’s important to see people that reflect your life."
And about that holistic hospital? "I see Rawcells as just the stepping stone to that."
Craving the sweets but without the extra stuff? Try these healthy swaps to nix those junk food cravings, stat.