In a country known for being a melting pot of cultures with a rich culinary heritage, the choice to adopt a strict diet is nearly impossible. Every corner is a temptation to indulge in foods that serve our cravings more than our nutritional needs.
This very issue is what drove Anabelle Co-Martinent, founder of La Juiceria and CMO of Phuture Foods, to take the leap into the unconventional and challenge herself and the public to change their perception of healthy foods.
“I think there’s a challenge in having a conversation about healthy food with the prevalence of unhealthy options offered at a low-priced and especially accessible,” she shares.
A psychology and marketing graduate, Anabelle has also expressed a keen interest in human behavior but is a self-described ‘tech girl’ at heart. She has been attached to a slew of big names in the tech industry such as Hewlett-Packard (HP), Nokia and Microsoft Malaysia.
But as a marketer, it’s always been a dream to build one’s own brand, and it was the birth of her daughter that really put things into perspective about she wanted for her career.
“It’s a very transformational experience when you have your first child and that made me think about what I wanted to do later in life,” she admits.
With no plans to go back to her home of Manila and fueled by this epiphany, Anabelle decided to leave her corporate job to take a two-year respite to really get to thinking about what kind of business she wanted to pursue.
In that time, she took to testing the waters of what different industries could offer her, finding herself in BFM Media and doing consultancy work on the side to keep busy. Just as her two years were up came the emergence of the ‘green juice’ phenomenon that took the world by storm.
Seeing as the fad had yet to make its mark in Malaysia, Anabelle jumped at the chance to make something of it here, formulating a plan to bring the wonders of cold-pressed juices to the local populace.
“From there, I knew I was onto something.”
Confident that this could mean the start of something new, she worked to bring her dream to fruition and in a manner of months, La Juiceria was born. Nine years later, the brand has grown beyond just a simple online juice business to a flourishing F&B company, home to a slew of notable brands including Super Saigon and Hawker Hall.
But all that came to a screeching halt when the pandemic hit and another phenomenon was rearing its ugly head at the time: The Great Revaluation, where many working professionals were left to rethink their goals in life.
Anabelle was not spared from this notion, reconsidering where she wanted to see herself going in the next ten years and eventually decided to hand over the reins of LA Juiceria and its sister brands to her business partners.
“It was like going back to the drawing board,” admits Anabelle. “I had to get used to learning new things and made adjustments so that I could start anew.”
Though letting go of the brands that were so close to her heart was difficult, she was ready to get back right back into the groove of things. The mompreneur linked up with two new businesses, one of which being Phuture Foods, a plant-based meat company, which had already been in the market for three years by the time she joined.
Anabelle wholeheartedly believes in a future where plant-based goods become a part of the mainstream and not just for the selected few, seeing this new regime come to light through the work of Phuture Foods.
Despite her accomplishments in the healthy foods industry, Anabelle admits that there was a time when the thought of leaving her position in tech was a heavy decision. “It was extremely difficult to have to hand in my resignation with no concrete plan.”
“I think as human beings, we enjoy the idea of comfort and certainty with the one thing we don’t' like being change because it can be a painful and risky process. Going from working with people around you to having to bear things on your own took some getting used to.”
She goes on to state that it was her husband that gave her the courage to really give it a try and find out for myself if this could work or not, encouraging her every step of the way.
As a mom and entrepreneur, Anabelle hopes that many other ‘already moms’ find courage in themselves to go for their own dreams of creating a self-made business and trust that when the right time and moment comes, they grab it.
“Things change very quickly so if you’re restarting your career again, equip yourself with the necessary knowledge that you need to go on this journey. Don’t be afraid of rejection and be aggressive in terms of what you want.”
“When you know what you want, don’t let anything stop you.”