OMGoodness last Thursday & Friday were a whirlwind. But in all the best ways! NOW foods took me and about 20 other influencers on an amazing trip that was educational, eye opening, and so much dang fun!
(Be on the lookout for my second post and a HUGE giveaway worth $520 of NOW products!!!)
This post was sponsored by NOW Foods. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience. For more information, see my disclosures here.
I’ve been very open that the NOW foods trip is my first ever blogging trip. Sure I’ve worked with many brands in smaller capacities, but this felt huge compared to my partnerships before. They were flying me out and sponsoring the whole trip so that I could have a chance to learn about their company and the quality they stand for.
Why I chose to work with NOW foods
For me personally, working with brands has always been about quality over quantity. I’ll never recommend a product or brand I don’t use and trust myself. NOW is a company whose products I’ve had in my cupboards throughout the years. Everything I’d previously purchased from them had seemed to be pretty good quality. So, when the opportunity came to work with them and learn more about NOW foods & supplements I was all in!
48 hours to become a believer
This trip was quick! But don’t for one sec think they didn’t pack value into every friggin second of it. I told Travis when I got home it felt like I was gone for a week. We learned so much it was hard to believe I was only out of state for two days. The CEO, Jim Emme, asked us in his goodbye speech, “After everything you saw and experienced in your time here, do you trust us?” And we all shook our heads an unequivocal yes.
My flight out was at 7am Thursday morning, and I have to admit something: I’ve never flown by myself! This was a first. I’ve taken my share of flights, but it’s always been with family or friends so I was a little nervous flying the skies solo. Travis dropped me off at the airport about 5:30 and I made it through security without issue. (phew!) The flight to my connection at the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International (MSP) Airport was just under three hours. It went off without a hitch.
At MSP I had a hour layover and was connecting with three other bloggers, Sarah H, Sarah C, and Lindsey to fly the last leg of the trip. First off either NOW simply knows how to pick them or 99% of bloggers are super nice, but it was an instant connection with these ladies. We chatted away. I remember specifically on the ride to our hotel one of the girls asked what I did besides blogging and I said, “I’m just a stay at home mom” and they all piped up, “Never say just a SAHM! That’s enough in and of itself.” And I knew right there these were my people.
We arrived at the hotel one of the last groups and were greeted by Alana, the PR Specialist for NOW foods. She had us sign in, gave us our room keys and a small goodie bag, and sent us to our rooms to unpack and relax for two house before we were to meet downstairs for our evening activities.
They had us all staying at Eagle Wood Resort & Spa. It’s a beautiful resort located about 23 miles outside the city of Chicago. The grounds are amazing with a pristine golf course and secondary building that housed the huge workout facility, pool, and even a bowling alley!
We each had our own room and upon opening the door I spotted two huge orange bags sitting on the table. (Bags that you’ll have a change to win in post #2 of my NOW trip!)
I wanted to sift through them so bad, but decided a shower was in order first. Wash off a bit of the airplane gunk.
Nice and clean, I took a moment to sit down and relax. These two hours were literally the only time during the trip that I had a moment to let it all soak in. I sat on the balcony, and enjoyed the beautiful weather for a few minutes before heading back in and going through the NOW swag.
After being utterly blown away by everything in the bags, I grabbed the Raw Energy Nut Mix and started chowing down. Dinner wasn’t for another three hours and I was starving!!!
I met up with Lindsey whose room was a few doors down from mine, and we headed downstairs to check in with Alana. We all got in a bus and headed out our evening adventure. On the itinerary it said Iron Chef session & Welcome dinner. Originally when I saw Iron chef on the itinerary I was extremely nervous. A timed cooking contest did not sound fun to me! I was actually pretty nervous.
We arrived at Cooking Skills Academy and were instantly greeted by Dan Richard, Vice president of Global Sales & marketing (and part of the original family who started NOW), and Jim Emme, CEO of NOW. It’s crazy how this company brought out the big guns to meet us, and yet they were so down to earth and unimposing.
We were offered wine and other assorted beverages, some appetizers, and allowed to mingled a bit while everything got set up in the adjoining room for the nights activities.
We were summoned into a room set up with 5 cooking centers and each given an apron, they had five colors that separated us into teams, four people per team. Paul Guerrero, the culinary director of the Cooking Center, was there to get things started.
After a welcome from NOW management we were introduced to Kasey Brown, aka @powercakes on IG, who shared a healthy protein chocolate donut recipe. Guys, I’m still drooling over the donuts. I get the recipe in a few short weeks and will link to it for you as well!
The Iron Chef Challenge
After we consumed our donuts it was time for the challenge. We were given 25 minutes on the clock, and told to come up with a savory or sweet dish using NOW foods products and other miscellaneous ingredients they provided. (chicken, tuna, yogurt, veggies, etc.)
I was paired up with Monica, Katrina, & Elli. The hardest part was coming up with what to make. Thank goodness I had partners! We decided on a savory breakfast parfait and although we didn’t place in the top three, we still had a blast losing! 😉
Dinner & Chats with the CEO
After the challenge it was dinnertime! We were provided a gluten free, dairy free dinner that had me wanting more, even though I was completely stuffed. Sacrifice flavor when eating healthy is not a thing! The best part of the meal was having CEO Jim Emme at our table. What a wealth of knowledge! He sat down and said, “Ask me anything you want” so we proceeded to pepper him with tons of questions. Questions about products, future plans for NOW, and more.
One of biggest things I took away from our conversation what not just about the quality of NOW products, but about the commitment to their employees. I’ve worked retail all my life up until having Tyrion and employee satisfaction has always fascinated me. What are some companies doing wrong getting such high turnovers, and why do some companies have such long standing employees.
A fact I found fascinating: NOW has never laid off an employee since it’s one and only time letting six workers go in 1960. It was not a practice the family ever wanted to do again. To this day, not one employee has been laid off. They also have a great benefits package and quarterly bonuses. That means a lot to me, coming from a retail background. Knowing how a company treats its employees. That says more about a corporation than just about anything else.
Not to mention they were willing to bring bloggers from all over the U.S. to their headquarters in Chicago, entertain us, and teach us about what they do and why they are so passionate about supplying people with quality health products. No one has to do that. But this company chose to, because they value people and their personal opinions. NOW realizes word of month is a far greater tool than any commercial advertising they could come up with. How friggin cool!!!!
With dinner over we were shuttled back to our hotel. Alana told us to meet her in the lobby at 6:40 the next morning to head out for our workout. I went to bed and slept hard!