Q&A with Darby Jackson of Apres
The first time I met Darby, I was awe-struck by how genuine she was. It's a bit nerve-racking meeting Instagram friends IRL (you never know what you're gonna get), but I was immediately put at ease by how down-to-earth and open she was. She co-founded Après, and is super busy kicking all the ass and taking all the names.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hi there! My name is Darby Jackson and I am the cofounder of a beverage company called Après. Fun fact, Spanish is actually my first language in reading and writing and it was my major at Berkeley. After college, my first job was as a translator here in SF for the Argentinian soccer team. So random, I know. My point being, I was nowhere close to where I am now career wise. My plan was always to go into the peace corps and live abroad using my Spanish. But, some unexpected, not-so-pleasant life events were thrown my way and I pivoted. Several years later I found myself studying to become a health and wellness coach and then eventually, started Après. I've learned that sometimes it's those unexpected, really tough times that are thrown your way that open doors to the most incredible opportunities.
What was the inspiration behind apres?
Both my cofounder Sonny and I were inspired by different moments in our lives but our vision and goal for Après is one in the same - create a beverage that gives back to your body so that you can move forward and own whatever comes next in your day.
My inspiration specifically, came during my career as a health and wellness coach. I had my own practice here in San Francisco prior to starting Après and worked directly with women to help them repair their relationship with food and their body. While working with my clients, I continued to get the same question, "What should I have after I workout?". My clients were busy professionals doing early morning spin classes and then running straight into work, meetings or to take their kids to school, so there was limited time for a full meal right after a workout. They needed something clean and convenient that would buy them an hour or two until they could actually sit down and eat, but I couldn't find the perfect solution. All of the ready-to-drink protein shakes out there screamed bulk and biceps and the ingredient lists were terrifying - my clients weren't hardcore enough to grab a protein shaker and shake it up with water and powder (gross). So, long story short, Sonny and I came together in Summer of 2016, after noticing the same gap in the market, and designed Après from the ground up ourselves!
What was the transition like from office job to self-employed?
My transition from office job to self-employed started with my health and wellness coaching job and it was not sexy! I think that a lot of people put this halo around the "jump" from an office job to the job you love, but it can be ugly and full of really tough, lonely days.
To start, I didn't just cut and run from my regular job like most people think you do when you start your own gig. My transition was gradual and very thought out. I started off by seeing clients before and after work and then also on the weekends while still working full time. I even used to sneak away at lunch time to meet with clients. Slowly, as my client base grew, I moved to part time, then into a contractor role and then finally I completely left my full time job. Shortly there after, Sonny and I began working on Après.
There are a lot of unsexy stories in there like, learning how to get my own health insurance (nightmare!), pulling all nighters to build my website, and ultimately deciding to leave my health coaching business and clients behind to start Après. Lots of tears and terror but ultimately so much gratitude and happiness for the opportunity I've been given. Side note: if you start your own gig or work from home, don't work in your pajamas! It's the worst habit (I know from experience). Get dressed!
What do you love most about your job?
I love the community building aspect of it. Après was inspired by the health and wellness community (my clients, friends, fitness gurus, health coaches) looking for a clean and convenient solution post-workout. Sonny and I worked closely with our communities to design the ingredients, nutrition label and packaging for Après to make sure that it spoke deeply to our consumer. We also started our Instagram account 1 year before we even launched so that we could have open lines of communication with women interested in what we were building. Since then, we've been able to grow this really strong community around the brand with really honest, open lines of communication. We host events with boutique fitness studios, partner with influencers in the wellness community and I get to meet wonderful, inspiring women (like you!) building businesses of their own. Plus, I love where the wellness community is going right now. There is such a strong focus on female empowerment and body positivity. It's wonderful.
What do you love about yourself?
I'm terrified ALL the time doing this job, but I think I'm pretty good at staring that fear down and getting comfortable in uncomfortable situations. For example, we had to raise capital last year to get Après off the ground, which meant raising money and pitching investors. I'd never done anything like that in my life and was so scared that people would laugh at us, think we were unqualified, or worse - hate our idea. I had to work really hard to pump myself up and walk confidently into those meetings knowing that what we'd created was badass. It taught me a lot about myself and how to gain confidence in uncomfortable situations. I'm really proud of myself for facing that fear and making it a strength.
Take us through a day in the life of darby. We want all the deets!
I'm a total morning person. I grew up playing water polo so I was always in the pool by 5:30am everyday. Mornings are my jam. So, I'm normally up around 5:15am.
First thing, I drink a big glass of warm water with lemon (the hype is real!) and take my supplements. Right now I'm taking magnesium, chlorella and Vitamin D. Then, it's on to coffee! I brew a special kind of coffee made by Foursigmatic called mushroom coffee and then I mix it with additional Lion's Mane mushrooms. I am really into the power of mushrooms and the effects they have on the body and brain. Look into Lion's Mane if you haven't before, it's incredible.
After some coffee, I do a quick 10 minutes of meditation with Headspace. This helps me feel less anxious and more creative throughout the day. After morning meditation, I get dressed and head to a workout. I like to alternate between weight workouts at the gym and then different classes in studios. There are so many phenomenal boutique fitness workouts in SF so I bop around between them all. Right now I'm particularly loving Basecamp.
Post-workout, I head straight into our office and get started on work for the day. Right now, it's only Sonny and I full time, so we are doing nearly everything. It's a ton of work but so much fun. I'm visiting studios, hanging out with fun people in the fitness and wellness world and trying to build a brand around a community. It's fast paced but so rewarding. I normally leave the office around 7/730 and walk home. Luckily I only live 15 minutes from the office! Nights are spent cooking and hanging out with my wonderful husband Brett. Given my long hours at work and his full time job we don't get to see each other a ton, so this is a really special time. I (try) not to look at my phone for at least a little while, and fully engage in cooking a healthy meal and catching up on Brett's life. After dinner we might dive into a show (we LOVE Black Mirror right now) or read a book (I'm reading Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferris). Normally lights out around 10PM. That's my weekday in a nutshell!
What's on the horizon for apres in 2018?
Things are really starting to take off for the brand! We launched 2 months ago into a market that was really ready for us, so demand for the product is high. We are expanding into more boutique fitness studios, partnering with some really inspiring, powerful women in the wellness industry and also developing some new Après flavors! The most important thing for us this year is to keep the lines of communication with our community open and authentic so that we can continue to provide a product that really makes them happy and feel fantastic!
And lastly, what makes you feel like a kween?
Sleep! While I am a morning person, if I don't set an alarm, I can sleep for 12+ hours. I'm like a teenager. Sleeping is the most wonderful thing on the planet and makes me feel very kween-like. I also have to say my husband, Brett. *Insert corniness* There's nobody that loves me more and makes me feel more like a kween than him :)