Baking with local, wholesome produce- the old-fashioned way, lights a primal spark in our hearts. It engages our senses, involves our mind, body and spirit and takes us on a meditative journey, connecting us with our ancestors and providing nourishment to the people we love. It’s a giving and receiving!
And it’s easy to see why entrepreneur, and mum, Helen Marshall has taken this primitive yearning and community-centric model and made it into a successful business in Australia. Not only is she dynamic, smart and effervescent, she has a passion for wanting to make others feel good and she has been doing just that for the last five years with her business, ‘Primal Alternative’.
Helen’s entrepreneurial flair was noticeable from an early age and at twelve years old growing up in the U.K, she started making friendship bracelets and hair scrunchies and selling them to her friends. She said while most of her ideas were great, they were not really taken seriously and so she had to wait until later in life to create the business of her dreams.
But things didn’t show up in the way she thought they would. At the age of 37, Helen experienced a health crisis after years of suffering with sleep and digestive disturbances and agoraphobia which restricted her travel for ten years. She said, “I didn’t see the point in carrying on when I felt so bad and when I mentioned this to my husband he was very concerned.” He encouraged Helen to go to the doctors but after a variety of blood tests were conducted, they couldn’t find anything physically wrong with her.
Then the Universe stepped in…and out of crisis came opportunity! Helen had an intuitive download and was guided to change her diet and go gluten free. Then a colleague suggested looking into the paleo approach. And Helen being an action taking, ‘two boots in’ sort of woman, meant she put all her energies into adopting this new way of living.
Her new findings and healthy lifestyle was a revelation and breath of fresh air. At the same time, it was initially confronting! She had been working for years as a personal trainer and health coach, encouraging people to adopt the traditional food pyramid diet and then when she opened the door to this new lifestyle and way of eating she thought, “Oh my God, I have been telling people the wrong thing”. Her new learnings meant she turned the food pyramid on its head and started eating a high fat, high protein diet. She shared this new information with interested clients who went on to get great results but they found the preparation involved with this new way of living a bit time consuming. So enter Primal Alternative: a way to make it easy for people and families to stay on track with their health!
And it’s not about depriving yourself either! Helen shared, “I’m all for feeling good and kicking health goals but if the food is not delicious as well, what’s the point?”
Helen suggests when you feel like a Tim Tam, swap it for a Primal Alternative chocolate chip cookie, and instead of take-away pizza, what about making a delicious healthy pizza using a low carb base? And you can ditch the sugar laden cereal, for a delicious, healthy nuts and seeds granola. The list of yummy Primal Alternative creations just seems to grow: low carb wraps and bagels and even gluten and grain free pastry that can be used to make pies, lasagne and Naan bread.
Helen said this new diet and lifestyle really agreed with her in a short amount of time, “As I cleared up my gut health, my intuition and energy increased tenfold.” This created an abundance of energy in order to get Primal Alternative off the ground and give it a good go. “I felt it was an intuitive nudge or divine download. But if I hadn’t done it, someone else would have. It was time for the idea to be born into the world. But to take that leap and have that faith is a big thing, especially given I had no food industry experience and I am not a chef!” she said.
She eventually went on to collaborate with top chefs she had admired for years and created a back to basics business model, cooking from home and making food for other people. “It’s one of the oldest ways to trade but in our society we have handed it over to big companies that are more interested in shelf life and profits.”
Primal Alternative uses healthy, local produce, with sustainable, ethical practices: no plastics, no excess wastes and no excess carbon footprint. Helen has skilfully grown her business and trained over 210 ‘Primalistas’ which comprise her baking network/licensees around Australia. They turn their tried and true recipes into yummy creations to sell to their networks. “Many Primalistas find being in the kitchen is a stress buster and it’s their happy place. And they are already cooking for their family, so why not extend and then help other people and the community too. And they can contribute to their family’s income without it taking them away from home.”
But it hasn’t always been a bed of roses creating a business from scratch, and Helen is quick to point out that 80% of creating a successful business is working on yourself and your mind-set. She said that fear of someone tapping you on the shoulder and saying ‘you haven’t done it right’ and then feeling not good enough, can be the thing that derails or even stops a lot of people. Helen explains, “limiting beliefs are a bit like fine fishing lines or trip lines and you don’t really see them until you do a bit more work and then they become like red tapes and you think OMG, I was going to get tripped over by that but now I can see it.”
Helen shared candidly, she has recently started working with a big national marketing team to further expand the baking network. “They have looked at my whole process and it’s a bit like having the rug pulled out from under your feet. I can’t believe how I weaved in limiting beliefs to stay small or to sabotage myself and you don’t even realise you are doing it until someone points it out.”
The other big ‘aha moment’ was realising in order to not take things personally, she sees Primal Alternative as an entity in itself, rather than making herself the whole business.
She loves empowering others and wants entrepreneurs to know, “there’s going to be good days and unmotivated days and customers that love what you do and some who complain. Some days you want to throw in the towel and then the next week you get a new, fresh motivation and you turn it all around. It’s a bit of a roller coaster ride in the beginning but that’s normal! I know now it’s a marathon, not a sprint and I’m in it for the long-haul.”
So what’s next for Helen?….well, a Primalista in every town of course! And while she is blinkered on Australia, she is also entertaining overseas markets and people to connect with (N.Z is the next obvious region).
Helen’s enthusiasm for what she does and her desire to keep expanding is dare I say the word in these times….contagious! She inspires all the Primalistas to keep growing and creating and for everyone she comes in touch with to experience the full, primal experience of well-being!
“The biggest three things you can do with your human life are: growth, contribution and experience. Having your own business is the biggest growth process ever. If you can do that with a group of women who are non-competitive and collaborative with similar limiting beliefs as yourself, it can be hugely beneficial, healing and a wonderful experience.”