We had the good fortune of connecting with Ruth Elnekave and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ruth, every day, we about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
The story of JOYÀ’s coming to be was one of a personal experience making me aware of a gap in the market, and knowing I was the person who could fill that gap. Until my late 20’s, food and wellness were driving forces in my life that you would have thought would inspire my career choices. Yet I took what I was advised was a “practical” route and studied business and law, which led to a career as a corporate finance lawyer burning the candle at both ends: working nights and weekends, not enough sleep or movement, and often skipped meals – a lifestyle that wore me down.

When I finally left the law, I had discovered a one-year program in holistic nutrition, and as I’d been so disconnected from food and wellness for so many years, I dove in with no intention to pursue a career in this space, but rather just to feed my soul. Just as I began the program, not even 2 months after leaving the law, I began to experience debilitating health issues which I soon realized were the result of a body shut down due to chronic stress. While it’s never a good time to get sick, the saving grace was that my studies in holistic nutrition introduced me to various forms of traditional medicine and the healing and strengthening power of certain botanical ingredients – and these became the very modalities that helped me heal.

The problem was that at the time, all of the medicinal herbs on the market tasted medicinal and bitter or required you to pop numerous pills, and you couldn’t find truly efficacious, robust herbal blends. So I had to concoct my own, and this sparked my eureka moment: we don’t stick to wellness practices that we dread.

Armed with the knowledge and experience of how stress can impact every aspect of our bodies’ functioning (immunity, cognitive function, digestion, energy and more) and what a powerful role the right herbs can play in helping to maintain optimal health, I pulled on my herbal medicine and culinary expertise (I’m a classically trained chef) and founded JOYÀ to help make people’s wellness routines easier AND enjoyable. Out of this experience came our adaptogenic botanical supplement blends that are savored as food, without all of the synthetics, fillers and sweeteners found in many supplements and functional foods.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
What we’re doing and creating at JOYÀ is so tremendously exciting not just because we make products that can significantly support the quality of people’s lives, but also because we’re changing a stale – and frankly broken – industry.

There are so many problems with conventional supplements. Many herbs are more effective as whole-plant extracts than when a single compound is isolated from the herb, as research shows that even the non-medicinal compounds play a role in making the medicinal compounds available to our bodies to absorb and use. Yet most supplements contain only specific isolated compounds from a plant. (Lesson: nature is smart, and we shouldn’t mess with it!) Further, most supplements contain filler ingredients and even synthetics that are not health-promoting. At JOYÀ, we’re building a botanical supplement platform that is based on whole-herb extracts that are 100% pure (zero fillers, additives, preservatives or artificial ingredients). And we don’t stop there. We also combine several synergistic herbs in each product that when combined, deliver multiple health benefits (think stress, immune and cognitive support all in one scoop) and can also deliver a more enhanced effect than when taken individually.

This is super-clean, truly holistic health support. And all delivered in a way that you can savor in your food and drinks every day instead of popping hard to swallow pills. I’m beyond proud that JOYÀ is part of the industry’s much needed clean-up, all while supporting people on their wellness journeys.

I’m still relatively early in my entrepreneurial journey, and it definitely hasn’t been easy. We launched just before Covid hit, so we’ve been thrown a fair number of pandemic-related challenges in addition to the expected challenges building a new business. There are days and even weeks when it feels like a boxing match in which you’re pummeled a good few times for every hit you get in! I don’t think that there’s any one simple answer with respect to overcoming these hurdles. As the business grows and conditions change, there will always be new challenges, and I believe that successfully navigating them is more about grit and attitude than doing (or not doing) something in particular. A few of the key lessons I’ve learned are to never get too comfortable and always be ready to change your approach (or even your offering), ask mentors, colleagues and peers for guidance and feedback (often the answer is in someone else’s experience), and on that note, continuously grow your network and nurture your “external team”.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m not from LA, but have been down numerous times visiting family and on vacation and can’t stop coming back. I’m a hot weather, ocean girl at heart, so perhaps I should move down from the North-East!?

I prefer nature to city vibes, so I’d take my friend to the beaches (paddle boarding and surfing in Malibu, soaking up some sun in Santa Monica and people watching in Venice), and we’d definitely squeeze in a couple of hikes (Runyon Canyon Park, Angeles National Forest). And all that would work up an appetite, so we’d hit up farmers’ markets (the Santa Monica farmers’ market is one of my favorites I’ve ever been to) and do a culinary tour of my favorite cafes and restaurants including Gjelina, Gracias Madre, Cafe Gratitude and The Butcher’s Daughter.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
It’s difficult to choose one as I’m so blessed to have many people in my life who’ve been a source of unconditional support, invaluable guidance and mentorship. But there’s one person without whom I don’t know if – or when – I would have discovered the path that I’m now on.

While I was still practicing law, I worked with a brilliantly talented executive coach Rachel Weinstein (https://coach.weinstein.to/). She pushed me to look deep inside and be vulnerable, and helped me uncover aspects of my true being that I’d become oblivious to because I was so all-consumed with my career. My life-changing work with this coach made me realize that nothing brings me more fulfillment and excitement than helping people in ways that bring them well-being and true joy. Legal work was not accomplishing that. Yet, without the guidance and friendship of this coach, I may have never left the law.

Website: joya.ca

Instagram: @thejoyalife

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/joy%C3%A0

Facebook: @thejoyalife

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.