At age sixty, Sequoia Cheney is embarking on a completely unplanned new adventure, that is Wonderfully Raw. One thing led to the other and before she knew it, she’s became proud founder of a raw foods company—“I never imagined myself at this time in my life creating a new company, new products and doing it with the people I love most, my family.” Here’s here truly inspiring story:
It all began 8 years ago when she was diagnosed with type II diabetes. She was shocked—“I was living a really healthy lifestyle, eating good, exercising and enjoying my life. I could not believe I had diabetes.” She was told that eventually her pancreas would fail to produce insulin and she would have to inject it. Following the recommendations of her doctor and the American Diabetes Association, she went on medication as most do. She thought to herself, “[insulin] is not an option for me”. The diagnosis fueled her to find a way to heal her body and reverse the diabetes. She was determined to accomplish her goal and remarkably, she did—“I am happy to say, I am medication free and my blood sugar and AIC are normal.” So how did she do it? She discovered raw foods.
In January 2010, she found herself enrolled at Living Light Culinary Institute in Mendocino CA, the leading raw foods school in the country. She was thrilled to be learning new ways to prepare food that was full of enzymes, vitamins and minerals—“Food that tasted delicious was also good for me, I was in food heaven! I felt like a kid, downloading all of this cool information. I was full of energy and excited about life. I finally found food that tasted great, not like cardboard. This was something I could stick with.”
After graduation, Sequoia wanted to share her knowledge through teaching raw foods. Her students just loved her food, especially the macaroons. They would tell her over and over again, “you have to get these macaroons in the market!” but at the time her response was, “I don’t really want to start a company, I am 56 years old and have a great life.” She would continue to get the same praises and responses… then one thing led to another… and she started producing about 25 raw food items for an online farmers market in her own home. She quickly realized she needed a commercial kitchen. There were no available spaces in Watsonville but somehow the stars aligned—“My husband and I put a request out to the universe” and 10 minutes later the universe answered via Craigslist…“Young Kale manufacturer looking to share kitchen space in Watsonville. Needless to say we ran down there immediately.”
After a few months, the kale maker said “you really need to get these Coco-Roons in the market” and she gave him the usual response, “No, I am 56 years old and don’t want to start a company, I have a great life.” He advised her to just go to the local store and see what the buyer says… “So I dressed in my red chef coat, I had a basket of macaroons and went off to my first sales call. Needless to say they loved them. She wanted to know when they could get them for their 7 stores. I said please give me 30 days, I don’t have a bag or label,” AND in 30 days, Wonderfully Raw products were in their first 7 stores.
“We started off in 1500 square ft and my 5 hippie friends, hand scooping… really not having a clue what we got ourselves into… we sure have a lot of stories to tell”
Coincidentally, her son, Eric Hara happened to be an executive chef in New York City with three restaurants and was able to give her sound advice and encourage her. Throughout this whole process, she kept in constant contact him—“one thing led to another and he decided he was ready to leave New York to become our partners in Wonderfully Raw, with his wife and our grandson alongside. With his amazing palette and expertise and my raw food knowledge we have been able to create some of the best tasting, healthy, nutritionally dense foods in the market today,” Wonderfully Raw was meant to be.
“Working together with my husband Jack, my son Eric, my daughter-in-law Carly has been an amazing journey in itself,” none of them had ever ran a food manufacturing plant before, but they worked together to make Wonderfully Raw happen, and they did! “We have had many trials and errors, made a few mistakes along the way and just kept moving forward,” their determination paid off. Today they no longer share a kitchen with the Craigslist Kale manufacturer; they moved to a new 14,000 sq ft. facility more adequate to accommodate Wonderfully Raw’s huge success. Their products are sold in the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia and now Germany.
“My father would be really proud of us. He was the first foodservice broker in the country right after World War II. So we have always been a food family and the tradition continues.”
They now have 7 flavors of Coco-Roons: Brownie, Lemon Pie, Vanilla Maple, Cacao Nibs, Apple Pie, Almond Strawberry and Orange Dreamcicle.
Coco-roons are sweetened with maple syrup which is one of the only sweeteners good for people with blood sugar issues.
They’ve also expanded their line with—
3 flavors of Brussel Bytes (made with brussel sprouts, kale, carrots): Cheezy Herb, Chili Pumpkin, Tamarind Apple.
3 flavors of Snip Chips (made with parsnips & coconut): Dill Pickly, Chipotle Lime Cilantro, Cheezy Herb Truffle.
3 flavors of Dipperz (made with broccoli, cauliflower and carrot): Ranch, Cheezy, Lemongrass Chili.
Wonderfully Raw products are made with very simple ingredients, all organic, vegan, non gmo deliciousness. Because the products are dehydrated at 118 degrees, they retain the enzymes, vitamins and minerals in the food.