When I went off to college, I was a little desperate to get a job. One day I was making copies of my résumé at Kinko’s, and the girl there said I should come work for them. It was just this chance moment, but I spent 13 years at the company. Then there was a point where I didn’t have a lot of passion for what I was doing. I loved the team I was working with, but paper really wasn’t making me happy.

At the time, Starbucks was fairly new to town, and I would pick up a coffee for my team. This simple beverage could change their day and make them smile. I took a huge pay cut to leave Kinko’s and go to Starbucks and follow a passion, which  turned into a really wonderful run of 16 years.

I had no reason to leave Starbucks, but when I was approached by The Little Beet, I started understanding what a cool opportunity it would be to play in a space that I’m very passionate about personally—eating clean, living well. It’s something that I can get up again every day, and I just absolutely love what I’m doing.

As people become more educated about what’s in food, where it comes from, and what it does—or doesn’t—do for their bodies, there is more of a place for The Little Beet. We are teaching our team how to talk to people about how clean the ingredients are, where the broccoli came from, or what an Aleppo pepper is. There are now new categorizations in the fast-casual space for what are considered healthy-eating fast casual or plant-inspired fast casual. We’re not alone in this space, and yet I think we have the ability to do it better and different than anybody else.

For me, the passion for the product is definitely there, but that can’t happen without an amazing team of people to bring it to life. I get so energized by the opportunity to help everybody reach their aspirations in the industry. If you have a team of people who work well together, who want to get up and come into work every day, and who enjoy what they’re doing, that is the foundation. Take care of them so they can take care of our customers and then the business will take care of itself.

What was your first job?

I worked in an ophthalmologist office when I was 15.

What’s your favorite menu item at The Little Beet?

The Toasted Sesame Avocado. I eat one every day. We toast the sesame seeds, put a little lemon vinaigrette on them. If I’m going to have a full lunch, then it’s the Brussel Hustle Bowl.

What’s your favorite cuisine excluding healthy, plant-forward fare?

I’m from New Mexico, and it has a cuisine that is so unique and so specific to Albuquerque and Santa Fe that you cannot get it anywhere else.

Who inspires you as a leader?

My dad. He was the vice president of satellite systems for an aerospace company. As a young child, I saw attributes of leadership that I admired in him, and I think I have grown to be a leader who has some of those traits.

What’s the best piece of advice restaurant leaders should hear?

Be authentic. It’s so easy to get swayed by what other people are doing. I believe that through authenticity, vulnerability, and humility, you can build a team around you that’s going to do great things.

What are some of your interests outside of work?

Outside of work, it’s all about my family—my two boys and husband. We love just doing things together: eating great food, traveling, exploring history. I also just love a quiet night at home watching a movie with my husband.

Business Advice, Fast Casual, Story, The Little Beet