Meet Alexa, our co-founder
Hi, I’m Alexa, one of the co-founders of the Zippy Pantry.
I was born and raised just outside of Philadelphia (great food, not so great sports fans). Dad is half Italian, half Irish, but the Italian side informs his culinary repertoire. Mom is half English, half Ukrainian, and makes mean comfort food. Neither one passed their cooking skills on to me. But I did get their profound appreciation for food.
When I think about the role food played when I was growing up, I remember things like never ending plates of pasta with meatballs on Football Sunday, scathing hot bowls of hearty soup, cookie baking marathons all holiday season, and weeknights with blue box Macaroni & Cheese. Summer was filled with snack packs eaten on the beach and pizza dinners on the Ocean City Boardwalk.
As I got older, a lot of this stayed the same, supplemented by awesome meals at Philadelphia restaurants (everything from iconic Stephen Starr to understated classics like Steve’s Prince of Steaks).
When I went off to college, most things stayed the same – on the surface. I gravitated towards the pantry centric dishes – the comfort foods that reminded me of home – or I’d go out for a meal with friends to satisfy my craving for connection.
Underneath, feeling pressure to fit in and also driven by my perfectionist tendencies, I began silently battling an eating disorder that would forever change my relationship with food. My behaviors spanned from restricting to binging to purging and all things in between. It made it impossible to enjoy the foods I once loved without feeling guilty, and because I tried to keep it hidden, it meant food kept me isolated from others rather than connected to them.
Most friends and family knew what was going on, but few knew how to bring it up, or how to encourage me to get help. So I continued to pretend, convincing myself that I had it under control, when in fact I didn’t at all.
In my mid-late 20’s, I moved to a new city away from my core supports, and felt more isolated in my silent battle, and I made the decision to go to an in-patient treatment center. There, I learned to form healthy habits and redefine my relationship with food. My diet became a combination between snackatarian and vegan, but I could never get myself to give up eggs. Even today, I still have trouble eating certain things, but what helps is when I know I’m getting maximum nutrition that will make my body strong and my heart happy. We’ll come back to recovery and establishing normative eating habits later.
Flash forward to 2020 and the COVID-19 crisis.
Me, alone, in my Brooklyn apartment. Cooking for one is hard. Cooking for one with a history of disordered eating during a global pandemic is near impossible.
Pre-crisis, I rarely keep a lot of food on hand, but now it seemed necessary to stock up on essentials that would help me form new good habits. But what were my essentials?
Scarce shelves and unreliable online options made them difficult to find. For ones that I did find, I felt like there weren’t a lot of things I could make with them or I didn’t know how to pair them together. My pantry was still an uninspiring hodge podge, my meals were still boring, and I felt old urges coming up more frequently. Something had to change.
After years of working in beauty and wellness industries, I knew there was a market for foods that were functional, and I felt like this was truer than ever now.
After doing some homework (speaking to a few founders in the food space who were struggling to find distribution and reach this audience), I saw the solution: a co-op of brands that came together on a single platform so that consumers could discover them.
I needed a partner to bring this dream pantry scenario to life, which is when Ericka, co-founder of the Zippy Pantry (and colleague from the beauty and wellness industries), joined forces with me. Together, we chatted about the assortment needing to work hard but also be fun. The qualifying term we landed on was “joyfully functional.”
And with that, the Zippy Pantry was born.
We’re a new kind of community for functional foods – one that’s inviting, trustworthy, inventive, smart and fun. We’re here to empower your lifestyle and be a mode for you to discover the brands that will inspire you to do your thing, your way.
We’re so happy you’re part of our community, and we hope you’ll keep us on our toes.