Before going to college, business administration senior Sophia Shapiro was diagnosed with several eating disorders, as well as anxiety and depression. With few people talking about their mental health, Shapiro felt no one else was going through what she was.
It wasn’t until she began posting on social media about her journey that she realized she was not alone.
“Everything that no one was really talking about, I started opening up about and I had so many of my friends be like, ‘I’m having the same issue,’” Shapiro said.
Coming to the realization that many people were going through the same struggle as her is what inspired her to create SNACKWITH — a place not only to find ways to eat healthy but also normalize mental health issues.
Shapiro launched the business in September 2020 as part of Cal Poly’s HotHouse Summer Accelerator program.
The business sells three different subscription boxes: the mini which includes six snacks for $11 per month, the standard which holds 13 snacks for $25 per month and the premium with 15 larger snacks for $50, according to Shapiro.
Shapiro said she is “super picky” and only sells products with whole food ingredients — to Shaprio, this means unprocessed foods without chemicals or preservatives. Her interns, in charge of taste testing, only select products that they rate at a 9.5 or higher out of 10 points.
“[I] don’t focus on calories or the macros behind it, I literally just care if it’s good for my body,” Shapiro said.
Her team consists of other college students from around the country who get class credit in exchange for interning.
“I’m also still in recovery from an eating disorder and I think that’s really important to make note of,” she said. “I am by no means 100% recovered and I think that’s totally okay and I actually celebrate the fact that, as a team, we’re so open.”
Shapiro said her main goal for SNACKWITH is that it becomes a “resource for young women” where they do not feel ashamed of what they are going through.
“I want people to know that no matter what’s happening, that they have a place to turn, whether they buy my product or not,” she said. “I want them to know that there’s a community out there that supports them.”
According to Shapiro, eating disorders are a large issue at Cal Poly. This year, her company is hosting a “sisterhood chat” event with Cal Poly’s Chi Omega where influencers will discuss mental health, she said.
“Literally all I want to do is to inspire people to get the help,” she said. “It’s just crazy how much normalizing it can really do.”
The company partners with sororities across the U.S. and hosts a #nofilter event twice annually.
The #nofilter event hosts multiple Instagram influencers who speak about mental health issues, eating disorder recovery, self-care, managing stress, “intuitive eating” and female entrepreneurship, according to Shapiro.
“Depending on the season, we lean in towards questions and topics that a lot of young women would face,” she said.
With summer right around the corner, for example, this year’s event will address the topic of the “perfect body.” During the fall, the event discussed Thanksgiving food and the triggers that can come with it, Shapiro said.
Communication studies sophomore Jordyn Cohen works as a marketing and community outreach intern for SNACKWITH. She found the company after attending an in-person #nofilter event.
Cohen works on sorority events and enjoys working with different event planners around the country.
“I feel like it has the potential to be one of those really young and trendy businesses that just gets really really popular,” she said. “I love the product and everything, but solely why Soph started the business, to help other girls. I see it being very successful.”
Recreation, parks and tourism senior Ashley Wilhelm is a marketing and brand strategist for the company.
Wilhelm said she likes working for and with other students. She also enjoys going to the store and seeing the brands that she collaborates with.
“It’s really cool to put a face and a name behind a brand,” she said.
Wilhelm said she sees the business continuing to grow as they form more relationships with brands and create new products.
“In terms of college, everyone loves snacks,” she said. “It’s a really awesome idea.”