How I Thrive: To Taste Founder Nicole Jackson

How I Thrive: To Taste Founder Nicole Jackson

How I Thrive takes an inside look at founders, entrepreneurs and leaders and the behind-the-scenes self-care work they do to in order to live balanced, happy lives. Today's edition is with To Taste founder Nicole Jackson, a mom to a four-year-old who fits her self-care in at a spa at LA's Koreatown. 

Name: Nicole Jackson

Age: 34

City: Los Angeles, CA 

Company: To Taste, a website for today's home cooks: We tweak as we go, we make things sweeter, spicier, healthier, our own. 

Role: Founder 

Beyond the role: I'm a mom to a four-year-old son. We both love to cook, bake, read, and play music. I also love to travel, with him and solo!

Morning routine: 

I wish I could say that I wake up and meditate or rigorously foam roll, but the truth is that I wake up to the sound of my son's bedroom door opening. He runs into my room and stands up super tall to prove that he grew overnight. Once he's off to play on his own for a bit, I check emails. One habit that has had an immediate and positive impact on my life is that, post-checking-emails but pre-scrolling-Instagram, I write down (in an email draft or in the notes app on my phone) what the day holds and what I want to accomplish.

This exercise is incredibly focusing for someone who works from home, works for myself, and is very good at adding a bunch of little things to the day. Anything that happens beyond that list is a bonus. Then, I hop out of bed and join my son in the living room. He usually asks for a very specific song to start our day (from his ever-growing playlist on my Spotify—honestly his taste is excellent, I'm very lucky). I'll make us oatmeal or toast with cashew butter or waffles with Greek yogurt and fruit on top, plus a French press for myself. Once the plates are empty, the winding (alternately hilarious and infuriating) process of getting ready for preschool and my work day begins.

The first thing I do after work: 

Since my work is in food, I'll probably have already decided what's for dinner by lunchtime. I'll either set about cooking for us or piling us into the car to go out somewhere. There are times I've cooked all day to test recipes or take photos, so that's when I'll order something for us on Postmates, turn the music back on, and bra-off-leggings-on myself. Most parents will relate to the feeling of there being two ends to the day: One when work is done and you eat and spend time with your child, and the other is when they're in bed. That's when my second glass of wine gets poured and I catch up on my Netflix queue or whatever book I'm reading. And Instagram, of course.

Dinner ritual: 

I cook at home approximately four nights per week, which I love doing and is made easier by the fact that I work from home and work in food. My son is a good eater (I thank my lucky stars all the time), but he has favorites: penne with tomato sauce, scrambled eggs and toast, shredded chicken nachos, roast salmon (seriously); chicken tenders, fried rice and anything served with French fries and ketchup. He also love sushi!

I'll go to dinner with friends or family fairly often (LA's restaurant scene is vast, varied, awesome) and I cook with my sister at her house, too. If I'm eating with my son, it's around 6 PM, or if I'm dining with adults we'll start later. But I've learned to really love the early dinner, it leaves that much more time for wine and lounging.

Nighttime routine: 

I'm a big fan of reading in bed, but it doesn't happen every night. I kick off my winding down process with TV more often than not, which currently means The Crown, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel or repeats of Somebody Feed Phil (often while reading a cookbook, I'm obsessed with food, it's a whole thing). I'll also re-watch romantic comedies I've seen many times before. I'll fit in a bath with Epsom salts and the Goop coconut bath soak, particularly after a day with an intense workout. On nights I have the energy to indulge in some self-care, I'll do a Dr. Hauschka face mask. I'm pretty lounge-y and lazy in the evenings, which means I usually find it easy to not reopen my laptop and keep working.

Self-care guilty pleasure: 

There's a spa in Koreatown in LA that is a sacred land, as far as I'm concerned. I go and get a scrub (which is not luxurious and light, it's painful and legit). I soak in a hot tub, I get a massage, and I leave looking and feeling like a whole new person.

Self-care hack during the workday: 

I write a list of what the day will hold while I'm still lying in bed in the morning and I get very detailed, so that mentally I have a map (it's not a to-do list, that's separate) and it focuses me. When I feel overwhelmed, a walk outside to grab lunch or a coffee is amazing for clearing my head. Lastly, I try to work out two to three times per week, which is as mental as it is physical for me.

How I define self-care: 

Accepting whatever it is you feel and supporting yourself the way you would a friend. If someone came to me and said, "I feel overwhelmed and exhausted today," I would say: OK, let's go item-by-item on what feels too big to handle and then let's get you a cup of tea and a cookie or something. I would not say, "get it together, you're being useless!" Unfortunately, I tend toward the latter for myself. So self-care is first about being OK with my needs and feelings, then simply addressing them.

Favorite childhood toy or hobby:

I grew up dancing and singing, right up until I left for college. I'd perform many times a year through school and private groups, I took classes all over LA, I joined summer programs across the country. I loved it. It was not only fun and creative and expressive, but I credit dancing and singing with helping me get through many of the things I experienced growing up, from big family hardships and smaller adolescent ones. That's why I think working out is still such a mental and physical thing for me, it's a way to focus pent up energy. It was also very confidence-building—I find myself talking so much with my hands and body that I've definitely smacked people by accident mid-story.

State of your (email) inbox: 

Inbox zero. I'm a classic Virgo. My email drafts are an organized section of notes and to do lists written to myself. I also have a whole system of starring, un-starring, archiving. Writing it out like this makes it sound overwrought and it probably is, ha.

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Illustration by Megan Behrendt

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