Nutrition entrepreneur Kara Landau had just moved back to Sydney after four years living in New York, when she met the love of her life in a New York bar while on a quick holiday here. Kara tells AWNY how that night changed her life, how she started her company Uplift Food and shares her tips for surviving the Big Apple.
What brought you to New York?
I’m a Melbourne born, 32 year old world travelling nutrition entrepreneur that originally came to NYC on an exchange program with my Masters in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, yet somehow have been kept here, 7 years on! After a few years here I tried to pull myself out, and moved to the sunny shores of Sydney Australia and absolutely loved it! After a year living in Sydney I popped back to New York for a two week holiday; it was on this trip (3 years ago now) that I met James, the man who has since become my husband. After an extended stay in New York and a visa appointment back in Australia, I packed my Sydney life into a few boxes, and just like that moved back once again to New York. Nine months later I was engaged, and hard to believe, another two months later, I was married! What a whirlwind and adventure this city can bring you if you let it!
Where do you live? Why did you choose that area?
I am currently based in Nolita alongside many of my fellow Aussie friends – we seem to have taken over the neighbourhood, and its funny how having the amazing Australian cafes, and hearing a familiar accent every so often pass you in the street, can have such a comforting effect after all these years away. In my younger days I was an East Village and Greenwich village girl, and at one stage I moved uptown to the UES, but the downtown draw seems to have taken over again, and I feel I am close to making the jump across to Brooklyn based on my constant weekend trips there!
What do you do (for work)?
I am the founder and CEO of a fast growing start up called Uplift Food – Good Mood Food – the brand focuses on how when you nourish your gut with prebiotics, you ultimately can support your mental wellbeing and be your happiest self. As a dietitian this had always been an area of sincere passion, well before it became the hot topic that it is today. I feel taking the risk on starting the brand in 2018, launching the first product simultaneously in Australia and the USA, the Daily Uplifter psychobiotic supplement powder, and now getting set to launch in Jan 2020 the new functional snacking range, Gut Happy Cookies, was the best (and possibly most crazy) decision of my life..but I, as any entrepreneur, wouldn’t have it any other way! I also act as the media representative and nutrition advisor to the Global Prebiotic Association, so that adds another interesting layer to my schedule, travelling around the world educating consumers and industry on the importance of prebiotics, and how to innovate in the gut health space.
What was your biggest win this week?
My biggest win this week was getting the Daily Uplifter live on an e-commerce platform that ships globally from America – I have had so many requests for the Uplift Food products from across the globe, and have been trying to find a way to make it accessible to everyone – I was very excited to see the products now available and for people in the UK, Canada, NZ and more finally be able to reap the benefits like my US and Australian friends!
What do you like/dislike about living in NY?
I absolutely love the people! Being able to have friendship circles made up of people with such diverse backgrounds who are intelligent, open minded, and way too much fun for anyone’s good has definitely been one of the biggest draw cards to life here! Having colleagues who have welcomed me into the industry with open arms has also made a serious difference in my life here, and been a huge positive to life in New York. I love all the different cuisines that we have at our fingertips, outdoor food events, and of course, I love the rooftop cocktail bars in summer! As with many Aussies, I am definitely not a fan of the winters here. As I watch that temperature drop from week to week in winter I get that itching feeling that I need to get out! Lucky for us, Australia is the opposite hemisphere, and home certainly is there with welcome open arms!
What’s your ‘only in New York’ moment?
Oh there are definitely way too many to recall, but I guess the fact that I somehow managed to meet my husband on a random night out in the Meat Packing District while on a two week holiday probably could count as my most memorable and life changing “New York” moment! I mean how often do you find the love of your life from the country furthest from your hometown, on a night out on a holiday, close down multiple nightclubs throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, and end up watching the sunrise over the NYC city skyline? This from a woman who certainly didn’t have only happy memories here! I probably shouldn’t forget the fact that I got to be a part of one of the top food accelerators globally, and end up meeting the new venture arm of one of the largest multinational food companies in NYC, which lead to me receiving the first ever investment from them for Uplift Food…that certainly was an NYC moment, that I know wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t here.
What’s your favorite New York spot?
For a quiet get-away I like setting up a picnic rug on Cherry Hill in Central Park. There is just something about being surrounded by the green, seeing the lake and the Upper West Side high-rises in the background that is quite special. Otherwise I am a huge fan of being over in Brooklyn Heights on the promenade and the parks there that look out at Manhattan – Clearly I like being near green and water!
Favorite NYC brunch spot?
Pretty much any of the Aussie spots! A handful of my favourites include Banter, Two Hands and Bluestone, but Rubys for dinner has me won over too, and I suspect there are more that I just haven’t discovered or had the pleasure of dining in yet! I don’t think I will ever switch the Aussie brunch with a focus on delicious fresh produce, for the drinking focus that is part of the culture here…but I certainly wouldn’t say no to an aperol spritz at an Aussie cafe– that could be my happy middle ground!
What is your favorite NYC cocktail spot & cocktail of choice?
I have definitely become a Margarita lover since moving to New York City, that, and an Aperol Spritz. I think the margarita basically comes down to how well it goes with all the Mexican food on offer. I do love The Cellar downstairs at Gran Tivoli – it feels like a little piece of Melbourne in NYC for me.
Anything you miss about Australia?
Too many to name…there are so many things I miss, but the few that stay with me on a daily basis are the beautiful beaches that were a 10 minute drive from home in Sydney, the great weather all year round that allowed for coastal walks even in winter and autumn, and of course my family and gorgeous puppy that I feel I am missing out on precious time with.
What are your top three tips for friends visiting NYC?
Stay downtown in the heart of the East or West Village and enjoy the atmosphere that comes from waking up in the heart of all the action. Avoid Times Square (am I allowed to say that even when my office is there?!). Say ‘yes’ to that adventurous night out that leads you to all sorts of amazing new places, meeting interesting new people, and leaving you with memories that will last a lifetime!
Have you had any hard times in New York and how did you get through them without your usual support network at home?
I have definitely had some horrible times in New York. The main one that comes to mind was a hard break up I had years and years ago, as well as going through some of the challenges of working through raising capital for a new company at the same time as being in a new marriage. I have to say though, I actually have the most incredible family and support network that I couldn’t imagine my life without them – when I went through the break up, my mother booked herself a plane ticket and came to be by my side for three weeks without me even asking. When it came to the business and marriage set up I was lucky to again have friends, family and peers either here in NYC or home in Australia who I felt I could always turn to and speak through my challenges. This, and of course my own “therapy” of daily exercise, prebiotic mood boosting foods, and simply reminding myself that everything will be okay.
Any advice for people moving to NY?
It’s important to constantly connect with people, you just don’t know who you are going to meet at any time in this City. Be confident and positive, if you do not believe in yourself, others can’t be expected to do so. Keep going, the dots always join in hindsight!
What do you like about being part of AWNY?
I think it is fantastic to connect with other amazing women from the same part of the globe! I have found that there is often an instant connection and mutual understanding between us, which sets us off to a great start for building meaningful relationships and sharing positive experiences with one another.
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