New Jersey is home to many ambitious and talented women who juggle family, career, and home. A select few of these women are also extremely busy building their own companies to help better manage the balance of work and family. At NJMOM, we want to highlight these extraordinary women building New Jersey businesses, and learn the secret to their success.
Fit With Flavor Owner and NJMOMpreneur: Leah Fairchild
Leah Fairchild is the NJMOMpreneur and owner of Fit With Flavor, a made-to-order meal service that packs in the flavor you crave, without the added calories and fat. Fit With Flavor brings the highest quality clean eats to your family with the goal to prove that healthy eating can be rich, delicious, and diverse. In addition to Leah’s experience in some of New York City’s most highly regarded restaurants, she is also an NPC Nationally Qualified Bikini Competitor and certified personal trainer. She didn’t let her love of food conflict with her training by changing the way she cooked, and now she shares her life-changing secrets with North Jersey (and we mean life-changing…just ask her clients!). NJMOM had the pleasure of learning more about Leah’s journey towards chasing her passions, running her own business, and her favorite things to do in New Jersey with her family.
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Leah: We offer our clients exciting gourmet, healthy prepared meals that are low calorie, low fat, low sugar, yet bursting with flavor. It’s almost like magic! They’re perfect for “on the go,” “in a pinch,” or simply, “what the heck am I gonna eat tonight?!”
Being in a field saturated by men, what separates Fit With Flavor is it’s unique cooking style with a woman’s attention to detail. You can say the food is made with “love”. Sounds corny I’m sure, but each dish is prepared carefully with fresh ingredients that infuse an abundance of flavor without the added fat, calories, or sugar. FWF is vastly different from its competitors, as we’re attempting to really make a difference, and prove that healthy eating can be extremely enjoyable. Our mission: “Changing lives one delicious bite at a time.”
NJMOM: What inspired you to come up with the idea for your business?
Leah: Being a personal trainer by trade, I often watched my clients “hamster wheel,” training day in and day out. This means they would annihilate their workouts, and leave feeling sweaty yet victorious, only to completely screw it up with bad food choices. It’s enough to stay exactly the same no matter how hard you work out. Unfortunately, this was something I was all too familiar with, until I decided to change my way of eating.
About two and a half years ago, I convinced a client-couple to let me cook for them Monday through Friday for just 30 days to see if I could really make a difference. Not only did he go down two belt loops, and she a pant size, but the reports of energy levels being through the roof were incredible. It only took a few days for another client to say “What’s that? Well I want food too!” Before I knew it, I was cooking for almost all of my personal training clients as an added service. Every week they were raving about everything I made, and texting me pictures of the number on their scales going down. Suddenly, I was a genius! Both friends and clients insisted that I take my food to a massive scale; And here we are.
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Leah: I’d have to say my favorite parts are the testimonials. Whether it’s a client who is completely wowed after first trying the food, a regular client experiencing weight loss and telling me I’m their hero, seeing dramatic before and after pictures, or someone receiving a better health report from their doctor. Getting to hear that what I’m doing is changing people’s lives, making them happy, boosting their confidence; it’s incredible. I feel blessed to be able to work my passion, and it’s what keeps me going to keep trying to top the last “masterpiece.”
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Leah: Well, I could lie and say that I’m a culinary expert and that I spent years in culinary school, perfecting my craft, or I could tell you the real story…I am foodie, plain and simple. I really love food, and if it tastes amazing, I’m so happy. Sounds kind of silly, huh?
My love affair with food began at 19-years-old while working at a well known four star restaurant in New York City. The experience of exceptional flavors, beautiful plates, and romance in every bite sucked me in. This set the tone for my whole life, and nothing would ever be the same. My friends constantly referred to me as a “food snob” and never wanted to pick a restaurant or make recommendations, because I’m about as critical as the Top Chef panel. From that moment, any great dish I’ve ever had, I needed to figure out how to recreate at home by trying, tasting, modifying, and basically refining my palate. My favorite thing in the world was entertaining by having dinner parties that friends came to refer to as getting to have, “Leah Food.” To this day, I’ll never know if they were there for me or my food.
I always wanted to take my passion further, but after marriage, three children, a house, and a dog, it never seemed fair to spend that much money on myself. Eventually, as my marriage began to fail, and home life became practically unbearable,
It wasn’t until I changed my way of cooking that I learned first-hand that diet is 80 percent of progress.
My separation left me feeling liberated and oddly adventurous, I guess because at that point, what did I really have to lose? So, what the heck! I decided to quit my job, leave everything I knew, and follow my passion of being in the fitness field. Even though it was a struggle of late nights and ungodly morning hours, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I was quickly in the best shape of my life at 38-years-old, and most of the food I made was clean enough to help me land 1st, 3rd, and 5th place in my first ever NPC bikini competition. Might I also add, it was in an arena where most competitors were almost half my age. Yup! Boom! This of course gave me oodles of credibility, confidence, and lead to people wanting to know what I was eating, and therein lies the birth of Fit with Flavor. It happened so fast. It started with personal training clients, then friends, then friends of friends, and friends of their friends. I would receive random phone calls from people I didn’t know who were name dropping, then asking if they could “have some too.” It was hilarious, I felt like a dealer pushing some secret new product which lead to the nickname “Flavor Junkies” for my clients.
NJMOM: Who is your role model?
Leah: I have two role models: my grandparents, who were basically the most amazing people that have ever walked this earth, for the time that we were lucky enough to have them. They were beautiful, generous souls who found each other later in life, for their generation. They were bold and daring to mesh races during a time way before civil rights. They taught me unconditional love, to always help others in need, and to believe in what you believe with absolute certainty. They passed away in 2005 within a few months of each other. I miss them so much. They were my foundation and have become the voice in my head. I’m so grateful to have had them in my life.
NJMOM: What’s the best piece of advice a role model ever gave to you?
Leah: It takes a really strong, secure person with inner wisdom to know when they are wrong. Never be afraid to apologize or admit fault. Mistakes are human, and inevitable. If we assert ourselves the right to make a few mistakes, we continue to grow and move forward learning valuable lessons. Growth is the only evidence of life. If we stop growing, we are as good as dead.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by?
Leah: “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.” Any 80’s kid will understand that one. This is story of my life. It’s been a bumpy ride, and I won’t bore the readers with too many details, because this article would turn into a book. I’ll just say my knees were scraped, there are a few bruises, but I’m still standing even stronger than before.
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Leah: Every Mother’s Day we go to Six Flags. We’re season pass holders and love rollercoasters. My children have become tiny adrenaline junkies. In the summer, we go to Sandy Hook Beach (arrive before 10:00AM or you’ll wait until 1:00PM to park), Long Branch Beach, lunch in Pier Village, afternoon refreshments at Red Mango, and various parts of the Jersey Shore for boardwalk amusement park play and water fun. #jerseystrong
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Leah: The best part is watching someone you couldn’t love any more than you already do turn into a tiny individual with opinions, similarities, and different interests. I’m never ceased to be amazed, proud, entertained, and made to love them even more. Getting to be completely silly without any judgment is pretty cool too!
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Leah: My daughter loves Sky Zone or the “bouncy place” as she refers to it. Nonstop giggles. My favorite place in New Jersey is Met Life Stadium. I live a stone’s throw away and I bleed blue…New York Giants, baby! The Great Pumpkin Festival at Heaven Hill Farms is a great time with hot apple cider, wine tasting, hay rides, a corn maze, pig racing, and food! As for restaurants, I love Chakra in Paramus for delicious, upscale, and trendy food, and Scala del Nonna in Montclair for eye-roll-worthy deliciousness, and my past workplace and home away from home, Hudson Blue Bar in Weehawken for the breathtaking New York City view with delicious Robbogni sushi.
NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Leah: We live in Lyndhurst, about 20 minutes from the city by bus or train, an hour from the beach, and we have everything we need right here. It’s a great little community. We love going to the beach for day trips or weekend stays, and would go every weekend if it were possible.
NJMOM: Anything else you would like to tell moms in New Jersey?
Leah: Never be afraid to follow your dreams. Just because you’re a mom doesn’t mean that you need to “pack it in.” If being a mom is your dream, then congrats to you! You’re amazing, you’re getting to live your dream! But if there was something else that you had hoped to do or accomplish, please go for it. It is possible to juggle both family and career, and your children will respect you for it. As long as you have love and support along the way, you can make it happen. Only then will you be able to matter of factly tell your children that they can be anything that they want to be. Good luck to you!