Talk about bada$$…Heather Howell is kind of, well, amazing. By day she serves as the brilliant (and beautiful) C’TEA’O of Rooibee Red Tea company (not familiar? you should be! Naturally caffeine free, organic, gluten free tea with insane flavors like watermelon mint and vanilla chai…delicious) By evening you may catch her at the volleyball court coaching her kids’ team, making dinner with her husband or having cocktails with colleagues to unwind after a crazy day that she would just consider a typical Thursday. Heather thank you for allowing us a peek at your fabulous life, you are an inspiration to women everywhere and for that we are GRATEFUL!
1. Name, age, location
42 years wiser
2. I know you grew up in Columbus, OH and competed as a Division I college athlete. How does your background in small town America and collegiate athletics transfer into your life as RRT’s C’TEA’O?
My role as a Chief Tea Officer is much like sports. My collegiate sport being volleyball – On a vb court you have the best lineup – hitter, setter, server, passer/Libero
In my office – I have the best teammates. I surround myself with people who are strong where I am weak.
In VB – you need to practice and hone your skills. At RRT the history is critical and the day-to-day learning makes one understand how to grow quickly and avoid unnecessary errors which can be costly.
As for small town America. I think our story is relatable. That’s what people love- to take something from a farmer’s market…nationally. Anyone can do this with passion, a quality product and perseverance.
3. Would you take us through a brief history of your career? Your most recent role prior to RRT seems very corporate with Humana, quite a leap from your start up endeavor with RRT. How did you land where you are right now?
My career reads like this –
I graduated from college at EKU
Moved to Florida
Was the volleyball coach for University of North Florida
Realized I was a much better player than a coach
I went to speak with a recruiter and was hired by the Executive Search Firm
I was then poached from the Search Firm to work in recruitment at Humana
Spent years in HR and began working in different segments of the business – at the time, our interns were studying obesity and the profound effect on children! Kentucky is the fifth most obese state in the country…
It was then…that I began researching food – and Rooibee Red Tea beckoned me
Scary? Yes! I left the safety of a pay check, employee benefits and resources to take something good and make it great.
Now RRTCO has national distribution and is coast to coast.
We just launched Rooibee Roo (a children’s line of healthy organic Rooibos tea’s for kids!) and will be placed in 480 Target stores for Back-To-School this coming Aug!
4. Your company prides itself on health, inspiring wellness, and combatting childhood obesity among other things, do these priorities transfer into your personal life? What is a typical eating day like for you…sun up to sun down!
Oh – wow!! My typical day and my team know that I don’t eat a lot! I eat to live; I don’t live to eat!
My morning stop is Starbucks – love Howard Schulz’s story.
I love CSA’s and cooking. I have children so I try not to make things out of a box. My in-laws do canning and grow veggies we eat year round. I love the crock pot and family meals! We always have greens and my children eat Indian, Chinese, Japanese – due to our hectic schedules – we have favorite local jaunts.
I made kielbasa sausage with sautéed corn, squash and red onion…I also made meatloaf burgers with hidden veggies for the kids this weekend….
5. What is always/never in your fridge? Pantry? What are your food splurges?
Never – lunchables or processed foods
Always – Rooibee Red Tea
Always – cucumber and veggies and fruit!! Applesauce – String cheese and applesauce and yogurt!
Also Eggs—and not because of the bunny!
No – we do lunch meat – but I buy organic – it’s worth my family’s health!
6. As a frequent traveler how do you stay on top of your health game? What do you order from room service? In restaurants? On the go?
I don’t order room service – it’s rare unless I don’t feel safe and it’s late! I pack stuff in my bags and fuel up at local jaunts! I love Mexican and find it a safe food to eat when traveling. However, if I am on the coast, I will order seafood!
7. Clearly, you are into fashion and always look fantastic! What bag are you carrying right now?
It’s an Archetype bag – see photo! Made in my hometown – Louisville and a gift from my hubby.
8. When you make time for cocktails, what are you having? Where are you and who are you with?
I am with my business colleagues and friends! I love gin and tonic with green olives! I love to talk about work and just life with my husband or fellow board members. It’s fun and life is short!!
9. With so much business travel, where do you escape to with your family? What are you most likely to be doing on vacation?
I love to go to see my family in Ohio and escape to my parents home cooking and hospitality. My nieces and nephew, brother in law and sister are a ton of fun. I love to see my kids play with their cousins. There is something to be said about also escaping to Bowling Green, KY to see my in-laws who live on a farm. It’s peaceful, quiet and the simplicity makes my world of deadlines and stress of business melt away. I love being a traveling businesswoman, each trip makes me so fortunate to see all the corners of the world. It give me perspective. I recently took a trip to Charlottesville and was blown away…beautiful drive and amazing university.
10. Any advice on how to best balance a growing family, a thriving career, and a personal life without letting your health slide to the bottom of the pile?
I make time for what is important! I never sit idle. I don’t watch television. I don’t worry about things I can’t control. I stopped judging myself. I don’t attend PTA meetings because I can’t – instead, I give back in other ways! I coach my kids volleyball teams – I sit on two boards And I am passionate about women in business. I have two children and that’s my job – to raise them and to be a good friend to others. I am also hugely involved in giving back to my community. As for my health – I need to do better – I planned my first ever spa trip. Can’t wait…
11. Is there anything else we should know about Heather Howell??
I can’t explain in words how much women need to continue to encourage, sponsor, mentor and refer one another. We need to set an example for our future women to support one another and lift them to greater heights. I watch men do this with ease. I try each day to set an example for my daughter and my son. I’ve watched more women do damage to other women in their careers or otherwise; I hope to live my life watching and changing this vicious cycle. Women have enough challenges, we need to support our own.
I told you she is amazing! Heather, you ROCK!