I have always been a person who will jump in and take risks. I look at failure not as a barrier but as an opportunity and something to build on. I completed a master’s in biodiversity conservation and management and wanted to start a business that could develop and that was mindful of its environmental footprint. That’s why MIXT started in 2005.
From the get-go, we’ve been about bringing better eating to as many people as possible, getting sustainable, environmentally responsible food to people with a quick-service format in a way they hadn’t seen before. At the time we started, people considered salad to be an appetizer or a side, not a main meal. We’ve come very far in changing that, and it’s been exciting to be a part of that journey.
One of the biggest challenges has been cutting through the noise, because MIXT really resonated. A lot of people have gotten into the same game since we started, and a lot of what makes us unique has been replicated. It’s about cutting through all of that, being who we are, and really focusing on our mission.
First and foremost, even though it seems like it needs to be about loving food, this job needs to be about loving people—loving your employees and your guests, and then, of course, having incredible food.
The pressure and the honor of having people depend on me for their livelihoods has been the most rewarding element; I’m proud of how we’ve built an amazing team and allowed them to succeed and excel in their work. I always point to the fact that the very first employee we hired is still with us.
We are just starting to spread our wings and bring our food to other states aside from our home base in California. We opened a MIXT in Texas this year, are working to open up in other states, and have the goal of eventually spreading across the country and beyond. We are constantly trying to think about not where our customers are, but where they are going.
What was your first job?
When I was 12, I told my mom I wanted a summer job and so I was her assistant for the summer. My mom was the founder and director of a school for kids with learning differences.
What’s your favorite menu item at MIXT?
It always changes, but usually it’s always one of our seasonal salads. We change our menu four times a year and create salads that highlight the best of the season, and I usually get obsessed with one of them.
What’s your favorite cuisine outside of MIXT?
I love Indian food. I went to school in the U.K., and that’s what really kicked off my love of wonderful Indian food.
Who inspires you as a leader?
Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s founder. I think that he has done an amazing job of building a business for good, and that is very much our mission as well.
What’s the best piece of advice restaurant leaders should hear?
The restaurant industry is not for the faint of heart, and there are lots of bumps and turns.
What are some of your interests outside of work?
I tend to be super sporty, so I can water ski and golf and go for a run all on the same day and be really happy.