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Cusa Crew Spotlight: Laura Allen

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Growing up in Asia, tea was in my DNA. I started drinking Chinese tea whenever my family went out for dim sum. After moving to America, I slowly but surely started expanding my tea collection. I am confident to say our house has the widest tea collection in the neighborhood. 

What is your favorite Cusa flavor?

Hands down Everyday Wellness, then other flavors started to grow on me like Blueberry Chrysanthemum, Immune Bost and Slim Savvy. Now, Dirty Chai is now my regular go to.

You’ve done some cool things with Cusa products – can you tell us about some of them?

I try to give out samples whenever I can during my vending events. Occasionally, I would include some sticks into my variety box as a little surprise.  This year, I had the opportunity to start a “Tea Corner”, and CUSA is the only tea on the menu. Customers are still surprised about no hot water is needed and enjoy the taste profile of the tea.

Laura's Tea Corner

How do you use Cusa?

If I could bathe in CUSA tea I would, but for now, everywhere, and anytime, I CUSA.

What do sustainability and wellness mean to you?

As a business owner, sustainability is tricky and sometimes hard to practice. Intention matters: I am very transparent with the ingredients I use, and I am constantly changing to cleaner and better ingredients when I can. If I can source materials from smaller company, I will. Since last year, I have transitioned out of plastic bag packaging completely and continue to research for more sustainable materials. Don’t laugh, but when I print out my promotional materials for display, I use recycled paper.

What do you do for work, and how did you get where you are?

Marketing and project management had been my career path. Then motherhood changed my course. After taking a corporate break for a decade, I started my baking and business consulting businesses. Connecting with people either through brainstorming ideas, solving problems, or feeding them treats. I am never an inside the box thinker/doer. I like constantly improving process or creating new items/ideas.

Did you take on any new hobbies during the pandemic?

I wish I did. I ended up cooking and baking more. 😊

What do you do in your free time?

Dreaming up new treats! I am also trying to get back into working out regularly, and I miss hot yoga.

Laura with her latest creations

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I could literally sleep anywhere: airplane floors, theaters (while the movie is playing), in concerts (symphony or rock), and even once while standing in a bus ride. Decades ago, I designed a regional magazine back in Asia for almost 10 years. At one point, I was a contributing writer to a local Chinese newspaper for a couple of years.

Tell us about HER Kitchen! How did you start it and what inspired you?

My baking journey started when I went into the 3rd trimester with our son. I was nesting big-time; I just wanted to bake.

Initially, I just wanted to bake for my family and friends; now I want to bake for people who would like to share the same values as me. Every bite has my best intention in it. I want to share and connect these values with the world through my treats.

Fast forward 4 years: we decided as a family to adopt a vegan diet. My husband also discovered dairy was not good for him. WOW, that made eating and baking a very interesting challenge: flat pancakes, unfluffy scones...etc - and I thought egg replacer was my only vegan baking friend!

Then fast forward 6 more years: we learned my husband was gluten intolerant. So, baking needed to be completely gluten-free for him. Rather than baking something gluten for me and my son, and another batch gluten-free, I slowly but surely switched to 100% gluten-free baking at home.

Laura's Baked Goods

Since then, being a stay-at-home mom has given me more opportunities to experiment.

My friends loved my chocolate and baking often ask, why not turn it into a business?

HER came from my original branding HealthiER chocolates/treats, but part of my journey was learning about how to turn my dream into a business. During the permitting process, I hit some roadblocks with the word “healthier,” so I had to skip that claim to get the process moving.

On August 2, 2018, I launched HER Chocolate: vegan and gluten-free dark chocolates.

That December, HER Kitchen was launched to serve vegan and gluten-free baked treats. Since then, we have expanded not only cookies, but oat bars, keto bars, brownies, and lemon bars. We would like to eliminate the stigma of gluten free baked goods are blend. Also, to build healthy communities, one sweet bite at a time!

Laura at her table

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