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Necia Gates, Queen of Kale

Queen of KaleWhat inspires you to show up at work every day?
The gift of being able to be creative and channel self-expression, inspires me to show up and produce everyday. The fact that I can truly express my core values, people love what I am doing and can contribute to my family’s future, is more than enough.

How did you determine your career path?
Since I was a little girl, I have been connected with my soul. Not sure if it’s a good or bad thing, I have followed a few of my passions to arrive at this particularly sweet spot. From music to art to food … everything flows together to fulfill my restless and colorful spirit. This movement coupled with my desire to eat clean, whole paved my path to kale chips.

What other industries connect to your career choice?
There is a major shift happening in our country. There is a new, broad awareness to about eating properly. The good thing about what we do is, we can provide those healthy options. The connection is to every other industry. It is a basic human need to live and treat ourselves well.

Describe the skill sets that are essential to future business leaders and innovators.

  • The ability to sit in the center of friction and heat and still deliver guidance, encouragement and focus.
  • Communication and Vision: to not only have a great idea, but be able to articulate and implement it.
  • Resources: know where and who to go to and how to get it done.
  • Clarity and grounding: the more connected you are with who you are, the more you recognize your power, the more you will see what others may not.
  • Be prepared for less sleep!

Describe the skill sets that are essential to future business leaders and innovators.
One Innovative method being applied to our business is the production of equipment. We are in a fairly new industry, so there are certain types of equipment that have not been created yet, but would make the process a lot easier. We are working on creating some of that equipment. Just as QUEEN OF KALE customers are incorporating our current product line in their diets, I am busy in the kitchen crating new, robust flavors and other offerings. Stay tuned!

Who do you consider peers in your field? Who is setting a great example of best practices?
Since we are newbies in the field, and have spent most of our first year in the “dehydration cave” we have not made many relationships, yet. Although, one company that has shown tremendous support and interest in what we’re doing is Back to The Roots. Talk about visionaries, they truly define the term ‘one mans trash…’ They took old coffee grounds and transformed them into fresh local food … mushrooms. In the area of growing and producing our own supply, they offer lots of knowledge. A favorite for inspiration and friends of the brand.

Name your favorite role models for success in two industries.
I cannot say that I have any specific role models, there are many characteristics in many different people, that I find inspiring. I love Kobe Bryant’s mental toughness as he continues to train tirelessly as though he were a rookie trying to break into the league. Being a mother of three myself, the tightrope between work and personal success is a trait I aspire to achieve. Finally, the ability to disconnect from everything external and be quiet, regardless of what’s happening in your life is a truly admirable trait — any one for which I am currently with advice.

I guess my role model for success would be the person that has all of these things.

Names three books that changed how you saw life that you would recommend to others.
The Essential Rumi, The Alchemist and Siddartha

Explain why lifelong learning is important to you.
Once you stop learning, you stop growing. I feel that as long as we are on this Earth, we continue to evolve into the person we are supposed to be. Every experience, challenge, victory or disappointment shapes who we are. The goal is to learn the lesson in each situation. The goal is to learn the lesson in each situation. So, as long as we live, we learn … as Alanis Morissette would say.

Describe the voice of success that you hear in your head.
The voice of success in my head reminds me to always stay connected to what is positive and good. Always be open to accepting blessings and messages that are bigger than what I know. Stay focused on my goal and take advantage of the detours…learn from them, and jump back onto the road. Complete the journey. If we make progress, even if just a little, at the end of every day, we are successful.

Community success based on what you do in the community means what to you?
One of the most important goals for QUEEN of KALE is helping to deliver sustainable, nutritious food options to people who would not otherwise have them. Eating well should be accessible and the basics to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds. We are new kids in the neighborhood but we have lots of plans and ideas about getting our tasty teachings and offerings to every corner of society.

What role does technology play in your daily life?
I am not an advanced techie person, but its almost impossible to not be an avid user of technology and have a successful business these days. There has been a major shift, and I have had to jump in. If you can imagine playing double-dutch and its your turn to jump. If I am not in the kitchen, I am on my laptop or cell phone, taking and uploading pictures, updating the website, posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and internal team communications. It does not stop. Yes, technology is the other member of our executive team.

How do music and cultural events define your self-identity?
Man, I wish I could play you the soundtrack for my life. When I cook, I play music. When I feel some type of way, I write music. When I run, my heartbeat and footsteps becomes a drum machine. Music is unifying and represents a universal language. I am proud to say I am multi-lingual: including food, designing, art and music.

Describe your favorite vacation spot.
Ocean. Clear sky. Great food. Tequila. Music. Quiet. Hikes. Rustic-Mediterranean

If you could change one thing about the world, what would you change?
Awareness. I believe that awareness of self and others make us treat ourselves and everyone we encounter better. I am currently blessed to be doing my part … one kale chip at a time.

Define your personal culture.
Music and creativity, family and holiday, Birkenstocks and long skirts, spiritual communities, cross country roads trips, empowerment of all people, universal and unconditional love.