MIJA came to us at an interesting time in the heyday of 2019, when concepts like the pandemic and social-distancing were merely rarely used words. MIJA launched with just one product, Superstar, an all-in-one supplement, that was quite a gutsy proposition when the growing market for wellness was introducing powders, tinctures, and herbs left and right. In their first year of launch, MIJA and more specifically, Superstar, landed in most “Top” and “Best of” lists, with a distinction of straddling both the world of glamorous high-end publications like, The Zoe Report, Who What Wear, and Vogue Paris, and serious peer-reviewed platforms, like The Healthy and Wellness Verge, where articles are fact-checked by accredited medical professionals.
We had a chance to catch up with MIJA co-founder, Sarah Koszyk, known as Silicon Valley’s rockstar nutritionist (Bay Area locals might recognize her as the resident on-air dietitian expert for Channel 4) in Union Square, San Francisco.
Hi Sarah! To start, we know you through mutual friends in Silicon Valley. You’re kind of the go-to nutritionist, so we were early on to the MIJA train. How do you feel like the Silicon Valley client might be different from others?
Sarah: Hi! Yes, it’s funny how connected we all are, what a small world! One of the reasons we named our brand MIJA is to embrace the sense of community. MIJA is a colloquial that means “my daughter” in Spanish, and it represents the way we want to engage and support wellness rituals through building community. I’ve worked with a wide range of incredibly diverse clients. I’d say what I’m most appreciative of with many Silicon Valley clients is how data-driven they are. They deal with analytics and metrics in their day-to-day life, so they seek efficient, advanced, science-based solutions and remedies, which is exactly what MIJA brings to the table.
How did that inform how you approached Superstar?
Sarah: The modern person doesn’t have the bandwidth to take a lot of different things. And it can actually be dangerous to take an abundance of random supplements, which was the message that a lot of wellness brands were promoting in order to sell more products. Our bodies are also not a single-issue system, in that nothing exists in a vacuum. So, I approached Superstar with a very data-driven approach, analyzing decades of extensive data, to see what the universal nutritional gaps were. Ultimately, most of our issues are due to a chronic deficit, and around 90% of the population is micronutrient deficient. The reason why Superstar is a one-and-done hero product is because I formulated it to address the shortfalls that we all have across age, gender, and race.
I think something that sets you apart is that you’re actually accredited in this area, right?
Sarah: I’m a board certified, registered dietitian nutritionist, and I’ve served as Chair of organizations associated with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I also wrote and published four books on nutrition. In my private practice, I work as a medical practitioner with clients, which can go through health insurance. So wellness and specifically nutrition is definitely in my wheelhouse.
And you’re also the go-to nutritionist for Silicon Valley tycoons.
Sarah: Right, that too! I’ve worked with many of them. But also professional athletes, clients going through fertility journeys, just a very diverse range of clients!
What was the initial reception to MIJA like?
Sarah: I think the wellness consumer is very savvy, and they figured out that the ingestibles they had been taking weren’t really providing an effective real-world solution. We quickly won over a lot of clients with our pared down, yet effective approach, that used scientifically-backed data, and delivered clinical performance. People adore Superstar.
On the industry side, we hit the ground running with editors also responding to the product immediately. We were pretty surprised by their positive feedback and responses, usually they can have a bit of a poker face, but many just beamed with love for Superstar right away.
However, there were definitely some opportunities for education to sort of undo the training of thinking eight or ten different powders are needed for proper function.
Right, that’s sort of been the approach!
Sarah: In hindsight, we launched at the cusp of Wellness 2.0. When customers and buyers had experienced the initial pitch of purchasing and using many, many different powders and tinctures to be a functional being because wellness brands suddenly thought they needed to emulate skincare brands and create and sell a lot of product. And I think the customers were exhausted, and then disheartened by this approach.
I think in many ways, we’re starting from the beginning again in wellness. And due to many customers having those earlier experiences with the old approach, we’re having to do the work of educating and earning their trust in our product. So for the past few years, we’ve really been trying to let people know it doesn’t need to be that difficult, and that better results than they imagine can come from an intelligently designed formula.
And your formula for Superstar is intelligent, and ticks all the boxes.
Sarah: As a nutritionist, I didn’t want to create a wonderful product that my own private practice clients couldn’t take. So I was careful to check all the boxes. Superstar is made from 100% organic, plant-based superfoods, which are the nutritional gold-standard because the nutrients have the highest level of bioavailability. The formula is also gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, dairy-free, and free of additives, and synthetic flavors.
It’s obvious that the product is high quality. It smells so fresh, and just vibrant. What gives it this quality?
Sarah: I say that every jar that comes from MIJA is made with love, and it’s entirely true. I’m so proud of the quality and sourcing of our ingredients. The matcha that makes up our base is organic, ceremonial-grade, and tested for purity, it actually costs more than its weight in gold. The turmeric we use is not only fresh, and high quality, we also extract it to increase the concentration of curcumin, the active compound in turmeric responsible for its wealth of health benefits. Our avocado powder is so nutritionally-complete, it’s actually a “high-fat” powder because it retains the essential fatty-acid component which you won’t usually find in a powder. And all of our ingredients are single-sourced, and traceable so I know exactly how the farmer cultivated and harvested everything that went into our Superstar.
We also work with independent 3rd party labs to test every single ingredient, and every batch of product made to ensure purity from contaminants including radiation, heavy metals, and environmental pollution.
And Superstar tastes like a delight, how does something so green and packed with superfoods taste so good?
Sarah: I didn’t want to make something that people couldn’t enjoy! So we use real melons and lychee, which is just a gorgeous and rare fruit. I want people to have something special and like you said, delightful. Wellness can feel like an enjoyable treat.
Tell me about launching MIJA in 2019, then sort of going right into the pandemic. How did you navigate that?
Sarah: We were on a good roll when the pandemic hit, and then all of a sudden, everything changed. We had been in conversation with a high-end retailer in Los Angeles, and nation-wide luxury department store, then almost overnight, the buyers had to pause. We started to focus more on our direct-to-consumer business, and our business actually grew because I think people really took the time to assess what mattered, and wellness became more prominent. It was a reset for everyone, a good conscientious shift to prioritize self-care, and invest in caring for their body as a whole from the foundation which has to start from within.
However where the pandemic did hinder us is that all of a sudden, as our products were selling quicker and quicker, it became nearly impossible to get glass in the United States. Most glass comes from overseas, and with everything going on, nearly every business that uses glass packaging in the United States was impacted. It got to the point where we had to take product out of stock on our website just so we could reserve the units we had left for our monthly subscriptions. I think we were literally down to our last jar, before the glass finally came for our next production run. And even though we did a much larger production run, we sold through that within about 3 months, and were actually sold out for a few months last year. But we’re back now!
I bet those were stressful times. Did you feel strange talking about wellness when MIJA itself was maybe causing some stress for you?
Sarah: Those were stressful times! I didn’t feel strange talking about it, but I can see how it may seem ironic to be talking about wellness, while being stressed. But professional hat aside, I’m a person too, and the top two concerns everyone had were stress and anxiety during the pandemic, and this really helped me also relate and empathize with our customers. Not only is there scientific evidence that Superstar, which is loaded with adaptogens like Moringa and Chaga, can help with stress and anxiety, I had firsthand experience that it does!
Tell me about some of your lifestyle habits to help with stress and anxiety.
Sarah: I love sharing food in good company. It’s part of the joy I get from being a nutritionist, helping others nourish themselves. Food is so connected to how we express love, gratitude, and all the good feelings.
I also like taking quiet walks outside, and we have so many beautiful parks in NorCal that I never tire from it. As a mom to a toddler, I like scheduling time just for him. We go to the beach a lot in San Francisco to play on the sand or get our feet wet (the water is too cold to go swimming in it). Time with my kid helps me decompress, and just fully engage in another space.
What can we expect from MIJA in 2022?
Sarah: I’m really excited about what we have planned. I want to keep building community and redefining wellness responsibly. I used to be on the other side where clients and publications would ask me for supplement recommendations, and I wasn’t comfortable with the prevalent pseudoscience marketing, or scientifically irresponsible approaches (e.g. more is more!). We also have a very exciting roadmap that I think really meets the wellness consumer where they’re at, and I can’t wait to share more when the time comes so stay tuned!
Superstar is available directly from MIJA’s website where you may also purchase this in a subscription, use our exclusive code MIJAGW15 for 15% off: go here
It’s also available at Ayla Beauty, where they proclaim it ” is the only superfood multivitamin supplement we carry — because we think it’s the only one you need.” To shop: go here
Europeans can purchase from Muse & Heroine: go here