“What you do is only ever as good as why you do it.”

Sixteen years ago, I was teaching middle school English at a public school in Atlanta. Then life happened - which involved two-pound twins born three months premature. Medical issues were part of our daily routine with this preemie duo (not to mention trying to maintain our sanity while raising two babies).

One of the biggest problems my husband and I faced in the early years was one of the twin’s inability to eat and drink due to severe reflux and a paralyzed vocal cord. Our daughter, Eliot, was fed for three years through an eight-inch tube that was inserted into her stomach. When she turned fifteen months old, and wasn’t attempting to talk or crawl, I was suspicious that her strict diet of sugary Pedialyte was the reason why. I began reading everything I could about whole foods and the healing power they can have on the mind and body.

Armed with research, I went to her doctor, and begged him to let me work with a dietician to put her on a new plan full of the healthiest foods available. I saw it all as an opportunity to help her - so into the Vitamix went liver and oatmeal and blueberries and quinoa and kale (hold your nose!), and when she began talking and crawling one month into her new diet, the way we looked at food had forever changed.

When Eliot and her twin brother, Owen, turned three years old, we welcomed our third child into the world (a big, fat, colicky one – which was not the baby we ordered, but oh well!), and we moved from in-town Atlanta to urban Memphis, Tennessee. While there, I enjoyed working for a local magazine writing food articles and sharing with readers everything I had learned about super foods. The idea of GoodGate - which originally was a healthy frozen breakfast product - was born in our kitchen in Memphis. And just when I had almost convinced my super business-savvy husband to go “all in” with me and my (not super well thought out) plan for GoodGate, he was offered his dream job working for a small healthcare company in Connecticut. (Y’all - he would have been crazy to follow my rather risky business idea and not say yes to this job.)

So, after three short years, we packed it all up again, and made another move - this time, to a small town in Connecticut. I began working for a health and fitness group where I wrote recipes, took photographs for their online publication, and consulted on nutrition and exercise. 

I took pictures of food daily, and as soon as I felt brave enough, I volunteered with the local business district to shoot photographs in nearby restaurants and bakeries. I was still honing my amateur photography skills, and just when things began to click (ha!), my entry level DSLR and trusty kit lens went into the moving box again - yet ANOTHER move for this party of five. 

Crazy enough, we came full circle this time, and ended up back in Georgia, where both my husband and I had grown up, and where all three of our children were born.

Over the past ten years, GoodGate has remained a part of our family’s conversation - changing and morphing and keeping us just curious enough to keep the hope and idea for the business alive. I believe the research I did many years ago to aid in my daughter’s health paired with my work as a health food writer, my work as a nutrition and exercise coach, and my experience in the art of food photography were like little breadcrumbs leading me back to starting my own natural foods company. Antique wooden kitchen tables, the bins of whole grains and seeds at local markets, organic farmers smiling while holding their stalks of wheat in the field, and the joy of feeding my own sweet family . . . these things will always inspire me. 

And that little miracle child? She is now a thriving sixteen-year-old. She tells the craziest jokes, loves to be at the barn riding her horse, and ironically, is quite an adventurous eater. She has a scar on her stomach from her feeding tube that looks like a second belly button, and she proudly calls it her “best story.” And she will tell you that her favorite food is her mother’s Oat Cakes (because she loves to eat healthily), but I know it’s really a Keebler Fudge Stripe cookie. 😉