FOUNDER- Susan O’Brien’s Story
Susan O'Brien’s story started on the island of Maui where she fell in love with Superfoods and the Raw Foods lifestyle. For the devoted daughter, wife & mother of three boys, this new way of living seemed like a natural progression from her decade long yoga practice.
The origin of food is in her DNA given that her grandparents were farmers growing heirloom vegetables and fruits in the small East Texas town of Grand Saline. Her uncle (whom she adored) would continue the family farming tradition growing citrus fruits near the Mexican border town of McAllen Texas where she frequently visited as a child and has fond memories of picking fresh fruits from the trees.
College would take her to UT Austin where she studied design and was a regular customer at Whole Foods Market at the original location on Lamar. Her design skills and professional career of designing clinical laboratories would serve her well as the owner of a food company specializing in the unique techniques of food dehydration rather than typical baking.
Upon turning 40 years old, Susan wanted to explore ways in which she could look and feel better as a sort of birthday present to herself, so she adopted the raw foods lifestyle entirely for 9 months and as a result, never felt better. She studied the popular raw food chefs of the time and even trained with the famed raw foods chef, Juliano Brotman, of Santa Monica.
In Dallas, she would later turn her home and back cabana into a test kitchen for these raw creations vowing to make them taste better than what she could find on the market. She wanted her Hail Merry snacks to not only be functional but they had to taste good as well. She sold her products into a few local health food stores and quickly gained a devoted following of people who were also seeking better for you good tasting snacks made with pure ingredients. Susan trained her children’s nanny Lorraine (who is now Hail Merry’s Chief Mixologist), how to prepare the food and package it all so that she could spend her time selling and marketing the brand.
GAME CHANGER- Sarah Palisi Chapin
Susan would then be introduced to Sarah Chapin now her partner and CEO at Hail Merry while still producing in her home Cabana. Sarah was literally a dream come true for Susan and her husband Steve, who serves as Hail Merry’s Chairman. Sarah brought 30 years of big food company thinking & expertise in investment banking to Hail Merry while allowing Susan to continue pursuing her passion for creating great tasting recipes and marketing the brand to consumers and retailers.
Also joining the Hail Merry team as partner and CPO in the early cabana days was Alison Brushaber. Alison a food scientist and culinary trained chef, is also a food industry leader with 30 years experience in commercializing food for large brands. The movie Food, Inc. had a very profound effect on Sarah, Alison and Susan. Together they would vow to use their big company experience and skills to help bring about vast industry wide change to the food supply.
This powerful trifecta of women now leads Hail Merry with Conscious Capitalism as the core of their mission and value system for the company. They also bring their innate skills as intuitive and passionate females who excel at nurturing the company culture to help their own employees find a healthier path in life.
Susan, Sarah and Alison continue to grow Hail Merry so that more people have access to their unique and great tasting products that do not exclude anyone.
WHY: Hail Merry exists to help people achieve higher health.
HOW: By creating truly great tasting snacks using our award winning recipes. Our pure ingredients are consciously sourced and prepared in innovative ways, while also meeting the needs of those with special dietary restrictions.
WHAT: Hail Merry is a category redefining snack-food company born out of the yoga culture that is owned and led by women who seek to nurture each other, our employees, our partners, our families and our customers.
ORIGIN OF “HAIL MERRY” & THE QUEEN
Hail Merry® is a symbol of purity and the Hail Merry Queen is an artful & cheerful expression of the power that the female holds within to nurture and express love.
When I was first developing the idea of the company and brand, my three boys were playing chess often. I have always loved how much power the queen possesses in the game of chess, thus the Hail Merry Queen is a wink and a nod to the power that all women possess. The Hail Merry Queen icon was designed to resemble a chess piece in the vein of the wooden doll series created by the great American born architect, Alexander Girard.
The name ‘Hail Merry’ is hopefully both memorable and thought provoking. It is meant to be a delicate play on words, evoking a feeling of merriment. Yet also an important reminder to be grateful for the beautiful foods this planet has to offer so that we may live and love longer.
There is of course the Catholic connotation, and being Catholic myself, I respect and admire my faith very deeply. Building any business can be challenging at times, thus the name ‘Hail Merry’ sparks daily inspiration for me.
Hail Merry is ultimately about the journey to higher health and the unique path we each must take to achieve our goals for a happier healthier life with friends and family.
Peace & Light,
Founder, Hail Merry
A NOTE FROM SUSAN, our “Raw” Avis
ra•ra avis- noun. Origin: Latin. Definition: A rare bird.
Hail Merry is a brand that was born out of the yoga culture. The essence of the brand was formulated over thousands of hours spent on a yoga mat in moving meditation. A spiritual awakening transpired over how to make us feel more connected to our natural surroundings and appreciative of the foods given to us by Mother Nature.
What I love most about Yoga is the inclusiveness that permeates the culture. No one religion is professed to those who seek the practice of yoga, but everyone is asked to come to their mats with an open mind and a willingness to tap into the powers of their own inner strength – wherever that strength comes from in all its unique and beautiful manifestations.
Transformative power is generated when we collaborate in harmony with positive intention. We become sensitive to each other and respectful of the value of diversified voices and perspectives. Sometimes in yoga class a collective “OM” is chanted three times to begin yoga meditation. When everyone in the room chants the “OM” together the sound that is created in the room reverberates in different harmonies until it eventually becomes one unified voice. This practice of chanting “OM” at the beginning of class unites positive intention for everyone in the room and it can be very powerful to behold.
All levels of physical and mental abilities are always welcome in yoga. In fact, as one evolves in his/her yoga practice, it becomes less about the physical aspect and more about the mental skill. Yoga is an ever-evolving connection of mind, body and spirit. We are all on our own journey towards optimum health, and Hail Merry seeks to be inclusive of everyone.
Yoga masters will invoke you to look within and not at the people around you when you’re on your yoga mat - “inward reflection, not outward projection”. I encourage each of you to begin your own moving meditation practice, whether it’s running, long walks, biking, tennis, swimming and yes, of course, yoga. Really commit to it, and watch yourself grow!
When Hail Merry was still operating out of our home, I was introduced to our CEO and now partner in this business with me, Sarah Chapin. Sarah brings a spirit to Hail Merry that is above all else about healing and bringing about change in the world. While her abilities to manage the day-to-day operations of growing a start-up company are like that of a fortune 500 CEO, at the end of the day Sarah has one of the most charitable hearts I have ever witnessed. This beautiful sense of purpose guides us every day. We end every week at Hail Merry by saying “it’s always a good week at Hail Merry”. I am so proud to say that because it is true. We seek to help people through nourishing foods and knowledge while seeing to it that our employees are fulfilled on every human level. Sarah is our champion for this deep purpose and commitment.
Our other partner in Hail Merry is Alison Brushaber, who rounds out our Woman-led business status. Alison’s nurturing soul permeates our culture. As women, we possess powerful intuition and instincts for nurturing a loving work environment. Sarah, Alison and I feel that if we apply these skills as leaders, our employees will flourish. Sarah and Alison bring vast food industry experience and are a powerful force for implementing sweeping change to our industry, which is desperately needed. There is a need for change in the US food supply and Alison and Sarah have the experience and the passion to make it happen on a large scale, which is simply awesome to watch.
It is truly inspiring to see how cause-oriented we have become as a nation. So many companies are practicing Conscious Capitalism by giving back their time and profits to make the world a better place. The core tenants of capitalism are changing in America and those companies who put purpose and core values ahead of profits will be the most successful. Companies like Tom’s Shoes, Whole Foods Market, The Container Store and Patagonia work hard to liberate and help their employees, vendors, suppliers and all the many stakeholders who contribute to the success of a company. As a result, these companies will attract life -long customers who are deeply committed. When purpose and core values are put in front of profits, the universe will conspire to ensure a company’s success. We work hard to model Hail Merry after these core tenants of Conscious Capitalism.
Hail Merry is ultimately about the journey to higher health and the unique path we each must take to achieve our goals for a happier healthier life with friends and family. After all, this is truly what we all want in life. Neither fame, fortune, nor the trappings that go along with it all will bring you true happiness. True happiness comes from loving one’s self and being truly loved.
Honor yourself daily and watch the world around you transform.
Namaste’ - Susan
SOURCES OF INSPIRATION
One of Susan’s Favorite Quotes:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~ Marianne Williamson
“Wear your diamonds on the inside” – Susan O’Brien
This mantra was created to be a reminder and a source of inspiration for Hail Merry.
For those who seek Purity,
For those who seek to Love More,
For those who seek to Nurture,
For those who seek to Inspire, Hail Merry.