Don’t be Afraid of Hearing “No”
C&J Nutrition share their journey to building a nutrition consulting, counseling, and communications company
Willow Jarosh and Stephanie Clarke met in graduate school at Tufts University, where they both earned degrees focused in nutrition communications. From there was born a partnership that has withstood the test of time and distance.
Eleven years after graduating, Willow and Stephanie, the power team behind C&J Nutrition, share with the Soloist Collective what it took to establish themselves as experts in their field and build a unique communications agency that is changing lives every day.
On getting started
Part of our graduate program at Tufts included doing internships at various companies where we could test out the different ways to apply what we were learning in school. Stephanie and I both worked at magazines and we fell in love with taking nutrition research and translating it into information that could easily be consumed by lay people.
We were still discussing what that business would look like when we came across a Craigslist posting for office space in a New York City wellness center. It felt like the right time to leap, so we decided to give it a try for a year and see what happened.
On getting first clients
When we first launched C&J Nutrition we knew we wanted to see clients 1-on-1 in our private practice and we wanted to work as media consultants for companies who needed to communicate nutrition information either to their customers or to the press.
Since getting consulting clients in the food industry was one of our launch goals, we attended the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco and simply went from booth to booth telling each company about our services. We got over any shyness really fast and learned a lot about the necessary balance between getting to know people while letting them get to know you. We came home from that event with a few clients, some of whom we still work with today.
Our media work also helped. The more press we got for our clients, the more our own name was shared.
On growing the company
Over the years the company has grown beyond the first services that we offered. Today we still have the private practice, where I see a wide range of clients for nutritional care, as well as the media communications part of our firm. We also consult with PR companies when they need health-related quotes for press releases/press kits or need experts to represent brands at conventions or events. We work with food companies to write nutrition related web content, blog posts, recipes, press releases and any other nutritional focused content they might need.
That’s not all! Part of our business is in workplace wellness. We work with companies to design programs that help their employees be healthier while at work.
And last, but not least, we just published a cookbook designed to help pregnant women treat various pregnancy discomforts through food. The publishing process was so interesting that we’re now helping others with their own cookbook projects.
On knowing this was “the” thing
I love what Stephanie and I have built. Being able to diversify what we do really helps us stay excited about each of the aspects of our business. It might feel like work if we only did one of the things, but each project calls on different parts of our brains and skill sets, which makes everything always feel fresh.
Because there are so many challenges that come from running a business, I’ve always felt so lucky to have someone to work with closely. It helps to have someone to talk you down when you get overwhelmed or panicky. Amazingly, we’re never both freaking out at the same time.
At the beginning we struggled with external pressure to grow. We pushed ourselves really hard and stretched ourselves pretty thin. Once we’d established ourselves we were able to relax a little.
The next challenge we faced was the digitalization of health content. The media companies that we first worked with were paper magazines. As the publication space has evolved, we’ve had to adapt our approach and learn how to push content digitally.
And, of course, we’ve faced the ubiquitous challenge of knowing what to price our services. In that regard, we are lucky to have a great network of friends in New York City with whom we can have ongoing honest conversations about what they charge and what we should charge and vice versa. It’s important to have those honest conversations about pricing! Everyone keeping the information to themselves just hurts the industry.
On marketing our services
We use social media a lot to share our point of view and philosophy on nutrition. It allows potential clients to know if our ideals align and if we’ll be a good fit even before we connect.
On what I would have liked to know
I wish we’d known to get active on social media earlier. It would have helped us be really current on the next wave of content dissemination. Other than that, I wish someone had told us to avoid over thinking things.