Danielle Harper has transferred her zest for life — and her knowledge of cuisine (she’s a personal chef) — into a subscription box service built around healthy foods.
Harper, of Carmel, New York, battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2012. A strong belief in “food as medicine” got her thinking about how she could help others with boxes of items that were both nourishing and good.
Zestbox, which launched in November 2019, is all about organic, non-GMO easy meal preps and snacks such as veggie chips, protein bars, oatmeal cups, marinades, spices, bone broth and more to keep folks immunity strong.
As a trained chef — she’s a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and has run Your Culinary Experience personal chef business for 16 years — Harper has spent her career looking for products that are not only healthy, but taste good. She’s also passionate about supporting smaller companies that you may not find in stores.
“I go over all my products with a fine tooth comb to make sure texture-wise and flavor-wise they taste good and meet all my criteria,” she said. “To be included in my boxes, all the ingredients need to be clean, meaning they have no additives and are organic and/or non-GMO.”
The goal, she said, is to offer customers superfoods that boost the immune system and heighten vitamins, fiber and proteins. Customers can buy a one-time box, gift box or subscription service.
Each box contains up to 13 products and ranges in price from $29.99 to $49.99.
While her company follows a similar model as other subscription services, her mission — and the story behind her one-year-old-company — are anything but ordinary.
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Her boxes are more than just a meal.
“For me it’s not so much the sales but about the community I’m trying to create,” she said. “I want to help educate people about how to live a wellness lifestyle.”
She also wanted to honor her renewed appreciation for life.
Zestbox shipped its first box last January.
A portion of sales are donated to Alex’s Lemonade Stand (ALSF), the Pennsylvania-based charity that raises money for childhood cancer (founder Alexandra “Alex” Scott who passed away in 2004, had neuroblastoma like Harper’s nephew, Brody). So far she’s raised almost $8,000. She’s also tripled her sales since selling her first box last year.
In addition, Harper has extended her fundraising by organizing fitness classes, a silent auction, lemonade stands with subscribers and asking for donations from Zestbox vendors to donate directly to ALSF.
“It’s so important to get the mission out and the word out, especially as we’re all so much more aware of our health during this pandemic,” she said. “Together, we’re greater.”