Nadine Joseph is the co-founder and CEO of Peak and Valley, a brand that creates adaptogenic blends to manage stress while supporting skin, mood, and mind. Hailing from a Haitian/Italian background, Joseph has an everlasting love for neuroscience that informs her company and products. She is currently based in Seattle, Washington—where she is still becoming accustomed to the rainy weather.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and what inspired you to start Peak and Valley?
There was a period of several years in my life where I was living an unsustainably stressful lifestyle. I started noticing changes in my body - ever present fatigue, a lack of focus, and an overall sense of anxiety. Even when my life slowed down, I still experienced these symptoms. When I told my physician what I was experiencing, I was prescribed a typical anti-anxiety medication. But I really wanted to look into other options - was there something else that I could do?
Ironically, I was studying the neuroscience of stress at UC Berkeley at the time, so I was well equipped to answer that question. I delved into months of personal research, one Pubmed article at a time, trying to find something that may be helpful. The day I discovered adaptogens, I remember being instantly captivated - the fact that they could actually adapt to what your body needs, and didn’t have any side effects? It’s amazing.
I started scouring the internet for places that I could source adaptogens (I had started with ashwagandha and reishi mushroom). Because I had a science background, I had pretty strict standards that I wanted to be met in the quality of the herbs and mushrooms that I bought. What was the percentage of beta glucans in the mushrooms? What about the concentration of withanolides in the ashwagandha extract I bought? No company really answered those questions. So I started sourcing in bulk from actual farms and manufacturers, because they provided me with all of this missing information. You can imagine - I had huge 5 kilogram bags of reishi mushroom extract and eleuthero root powder in my kitchen. I slowly incorporated several adaptogens—reishi mushroom and ashwagandha—into my daily smoothies and warm drinks. Within a short amount of time, I found that my energy levels, brain fog, eczema, and overall well-being improved immensely.
And, informed by the research I had done, I slowly started experimenting with blending different herbs and mushrooms together for maximum bioavailability and ease of use. And I came up with the three blends that we have offered at Peak and Valley today.
What does your typical day look like, especially when you’re balancing as many things as you are?
Usually I do a lot of email answering, communicating with our social manager, sometimes a few phone meetings. Every day is different!
What was the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?
The worst? Growth at all costs. I’m devoted to quality and to doing things well.
What does success mean to you and has that changed as you became older?
I used to believe that success is about accomplishing an end goal - completing a PR, getting a promotion, acing a test, etc. My view surrounding success has become more holistic, in that I think it’s a continuous journey. Success is when you look back on your life and are content with what you’ve done.
In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
I’m a huge fan of stoic philosophy, and over the years I’ve found myself applying many of the principles to my life, especially in times of adversity. Realizing that many things that happen in life are temporary, and aren’t personal has gotten me through quite a bit. I also try to shift my mindset from how awful any given situation is to how this situation can be an opportunity to become stronger (or to learn). That mindset shift can be really hard for me, but taking the time out to contemplate on this has always been pretty helpful.
Do you have any morning routines or evening rituals to help you stay balanced?
My morning and evening routine changes from day to day, just depending on how I feel and how much time I have, though I have 2 constants.
The first is that I make sure to take my dog out on a twenty minute walk around the greenery that surrounds my house. Being surrounded by greenery and natural elements always has a calming effect on me. It makes me feel safe and grounded and makes me feel at home.
I always incorporate some sort of adaptogenic drink in my morning and evening routines. My go-to lately is a hot cocoa with our Balance My Stress blend in the morning, and a golden milk with our Nurture My Skin blend in the evening.
We love that Peak and Valley prioritizes sustainability when it comes to sourcing ingredients for your blends. Why is sustainability important to you?Put simply, we only have one earth. It’s our responsibility to care for it and protect it and preserve it, in any way that we can. It nurtures, supports, nourishes, and holds us. We need to do our best to care for it in return.
As someone with a science background, what was the most difficult part of starting your own business? What tips or resources do you have for others who want to build their own company but may think it’s difficult because they do not experience running a business.
In academia everything is planned. When you’re conducting research, you always have a well thought out plan for the flow of your experiments. There is no such plan when you’re an entrepreneur. You’re constantly learning new things, and if things go wrong, it’s up to you to find a way to fix it. Making that mindset adjustment was pretty challenging for me - not everything is going to go according to plan, and it’s important to practice self kindness when you fail.
Tips: Find a mentor, utilize Google, don’t be afraid to ask questions
If you liked this interview, you might like our recent interview with Karen Danudjaja, Co-Founder of Blume.