Powered by Women: A Series With Cofounder Rita Katona
The month of March is Women’s History Month, an annual celebration of the vital role women have played in American history. It is a time to reflect and honor the females who have contributed greatly to culture, history, and society, as well as recognize the women in our own lives. As a female-founded and majority-female company, Women’s History Month is especially important to the team at So Good So You.
We are extremely proud to be the only female-founded company in the shot market, with a 75% female workforce. At the head of it all, Rita Katona, is to thank for the strong female presence seen inside the company top to bottom. Cofounder and Chief Brand & Innovation Officer, Rita started the company back in 2014 with a mission to bring people together to form a community around wellness, people and planet.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we invite the community to get to know SGSY’s female leader, Rita Katona, through the end of the month. Learn more about Rita’s path that led her to launching So Good So You, her experience being a woman in business, her go-to healthy snacks, and so much more! You might even have a chance to help brainstorm what our next product launch should be, so keep an eye out.
Name: Rita Katona
Astrological sign: Scorpio
Place of origin: Born and raised in Hungary
Favorite veggie: My favorite vegetable is spinach because I eat it every day in the form of my morning smoothies. It has such a mild flavor that I can still get 2-3 huge handfuls of it into a blend of the most delicious fruit smoothies.
What is your title at So Good So You?
I’m the Chief Brand and Innovation Officer. I lead all of our brand and marketing efforts, as well as all research and product development. I’m also the Board Chair, leading all of our Board of Directors meetings.
Tell us about your upbringing.
We moved from Hungary to the states when I was eight years old. Although I had taken English in school, the only word I could say was “chips”, which I quickly discovered actually meant “french fries” – I had been learning British English. When I was 16, we returned to Hungary where I finished my last two years of high school there. I came back to the US for college and have lived here since, though most of my family is in Europe.
When did you first learn you had a passion for food?
I’ve always loved food. I grew up in a multi-generation household. My grandmother used to say that I was her “pride and joy” because I was such a good eater, always enjoying whatever she placed in front of me. In adulthood, my love of food turned into a passion for healthy food upon learning of the evidence-based philosophy of plant-based eating. I discovered the health benefits for both humans and the planet. Supporting people’s journeys to embrace plant-based eating quickly became my purpose.
What role do fitness and exercise play in your life?
As a wellness crusader, physical movement has always been important to me and I’ve been a group fitness and yoga instructor for over 15 years. Around the time of the grand opening of Minneapolis’ first-ever lululemon store, I was invited to be the first lululemon ambassador in MN. To this day, one of the coolest things I’ve ever done was teach a yoga class to several hundred people as part of a lululemon event to celebrate the first store’s grand opening. The event was called Yogasm: a thousand people doing it at once. \
When did you first get into juicing?
For years I’ve been an avid juicer and love the way that fresh fruit and vegetable juice make me feel. I am also a realist and recognize how hard juicing on your own is for it is time-consuming, messy, loud, and often not too tasty. Before SGSY, I would sometimes bring in my juices for coworkers and loved the experience of sharing my healthy drinks with others who often then felt inspired to experiment with other healthy diet swaps.
How did you come up with the idea for So Good So You?
When I met my husband and cofounder, Eric, we realized that we both loved helping people be healthier and taking care of our planet. We decided to build a company that would stand for doing good – and would create products that stood for the health of people and planet.
When did you decide it was time to leave your longtime corporate job?
I had always secretly dreamed of “someday” starting my own business and building something from nothing. I would leverage my business acumen and create a company aligned with my passions. Being the supportive partner he is, my husband encouraged me to make the very scary leap to step away from a successful corporate retail career. Even if it meant forgoing a hefty salary, regular paychecks, benefits (including health insurance), and all the perks that came with my job at Target (like regular travel to very cool places around the world) – Eric encouraged I make my purpose part of my everyday life. It was scary as hell, and I won’t lie that I had doubts about whether I made the right decision many times. But the learnings have been many and rich, and I wouldn’t give up this experience for anything. The ability to build an incredible community, both within our company and outside as the broader community of customers, has been both the hardest things and the greatest privilege of my life.
What’s your favorite shot?
How can I pick?! This is so hard… they’re like my babies, I spent so much time tweaking and perfecting every recipe. I take several shots every day, but these days I always take one of our Immunity shots. The original Ginger Immunity is awesome, and if I’m sick that’s my go-to. Lately, I’ve been enjoying our new Elderberry Immunity the most – it is the only shot on the market with real elderberry juice (not concentrate or powder) and man, let’s just say you can tell the difference. SO YUMMY and of course, so good for you.
What struggles have you faced as a woman in business?
I hate to say it, but inherent biases still abound in the business world. I do believe people are generally good at heart, but there are so many hidden biases that have been indoctrinated into most cultures that most people aren’t even aware when they are displaying microaggressions of sexism or racism. I can remember so many meetings with bankers, brokers, suppliers and retail buyers where I was the only woman in a room full of men. I’m a confident person, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it was intimidating. To counteract this, I’ve always worked my butt off to ensure that I was over-prepared and my presentations buttoned-up in order to win over business decision-makers – who were pretty much always men. The crazy thing is in our industry of food, particularly produce, it seems that decision-makers are 90% men. And mostly men in their 50’s or older. Diversity and inclusion have become somewhat of a secondary passion-project of mine because as a female immigrant I recognize how much value and beauty come from the tapestry of unique backgrounds within any community. I’m so proud that at this time in 2021 our company is about 75% female – and particularly proud that in the departments of manufacturing and sales, two traditionally male-dominated types of work, the teams are both over 90% female.
What is something you’re looking forward to?
Plant-based isn’t just a fringe or niche trend anymore – it’s the largest consumer dietary movement of our generation and I’m here for it! Also, savvy young startups are realizing more and more that sustainability practices are table stakes and not an optional marketing tactic. With the convergence of these two things, I’m really looking forward to seeing the innovation from companies in the plant-based food space in the next couple of years. If I think about the evolution of the beverage space, particularly juices, in the past 10 years, it’s incredible! The taste, quality, and nutritional value of today’s plant-based food and beverages is far superior to those of products of the past, and I’m so thrilled that by offering more variety and high-quality, high-flavor plant-based options, more and more companies will be aligned with the mission and values of So Good So You (my personal mission, too) of supporting the health of people and planet. #SoGoodTogether
Keep an eye out for more content featuring Rita, and learn more about the ins and outs of what makes So Good So You, so good. To find our probiotic shots in a store near you, visit our store finder here.