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Haute Nature

GEM would like to send out a big thank you to Stephanie De Gasperis, founder of HUSK, for providing our GEMgirls with a wonderful Valentine’s Day giveaway featuring natural beauty products and healthy treats for their special day. Continue reading to learn find about Stephanie’s take on entrepreneurship, natural beauty, and healthy living.

Based on the lessons you have learned and the challenges you faced, what do you think it takes to become a thriving entrepreneur?

It takes vision, positivity and faith as well as hard work in the form of attention, focus and being present.  I think as women we need to continue to pay attention to self care and balancing work with our home life as this will help keep the passion of your work alive and keep you energized.

Did you encounter any difficulties setting HUSK apart from other natural cosmetic boutiques? If so, what were they? 

I think it’s a fairly new and small industry. Since all-natural is a newer concept and people are more familiar with bigger brands available at pharmacies, I knew it would take some time to convince people that these products are not only a better alternative for our skin and overall health, but effective and truly beautifying.

What impact did your background in nutrition and fitness have on the creation of HUSK?

It showed me the importance of taking care of ourselves, each other and the planet. Learning about many of the man-made toxins that have made their way into our skin care products and our environment was quite eye opening.  When you realize your skin is your body’s largest organ and that everything you put on it has a good chance of making its way into your blood stream, it really makes you stop and think.  Many of these chemicals are new and scientists are just discovering their harmful effects, such as being carcinogenic (cancer-causing) or endocrine-disruptive (changing the way our hormones naturally work). However, when I saw the fabulous things that all-natural brands were capable of, I realized there was hope.

What methods and exercises do you practice regularly which help you create harmony between mind, body and spirit?

I think a more holistic and balanced approach to fitness is the most effective and sustainable tactic for long term well-being.  With work requiring much of my energy, I have found that constantly moving, making the right food choices and checking in with myself every day through meditation, are the most important things in keeping my mind and body in good shape.

Could you tell us more about your favourite green food with beautifying benefits and how you incorporate it into your daily eating habits?

I think almonds are truly beautifying for many reasons.  They are high in the top most beautifying nutrients – such as heart-healthy Omega-9 fatty acids (same that is found in high quantity in Olive Oil) and skin healing Vitamin E.  Because they are rich in healthy fats, they help keep us satisfied longer and provide a sustained source of energy.

In a world where our eyes remain glued to a technological device for the most part of a day, what is the importance of devoting quiet time solely to eating a meal without any distractions?

With so much constant stimulation around us via technology we quickly forget to be mindful and present.  When eating, it is especially important to remember to chew your food.  Remember that your stomach doesn’t have teeth and the more you can break food down in your mouth, the easier you can digest.  This has effects on your whole body.

What was one obstacle in your life which seemed most impossible to overcome and how did you tackle it?

One of the obstacles that I faced was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. I was the only female in the group and I had to make it up the difficult climb. On the second last day, when it seemed near impossible – getting through the hardest part where you want to give up or turn back – I saw the light at the top of the Summit.  The feeling was one of sheer joy, a sense of confidence and accomplishment.


Stephanie De Gasperis founded HUSK in the fall of 2013. As a fitness specialist and holistic nutritionist, she has always been inspired by her own quest for health and balance – and has now created the perfect way to share this knowledge with others. Stephanie is passionate about simplicity, tradition and the beauty in the Earth’s elements, and has brought her aesthetic vision to the HUSK shopping experience. Stephanie has travelled the world to source the cleanest, purest and most effective products for the skin and body. All the ingredients she uses support optimal wellness and positive transformation. Her support fro local producers is also very important, as you will find Toronto-based and Canadian brands throughout the HUSK store. Stephanie and her team have a mission to introduce the very best non-toxic and healthy self-care alternatives for women, men and children so they can lead cleaner, more vibrant lives.

Your Daily Dose of Joy

What is Joyous Health?

Joyous Health means feeling and looking beautiful, having energy for exercise, a positive mental attitude and good digestion. The Joyous Health blog has hundreds of inspiring articles and delicious recipes to teach people that healthy & delicious aren’t mutually exclusive.

What advice would you give to someone pursuing a career in nutrition?
Do plenty of research and make sure you choose a school that you feel good about. There are many different nutrition philosophies and opportunities for learning. I first thought that becoming a Dietician was the best route for me. When I learned more I realized it really did not jive well with my intuition and my philosophy. I’m glad I pursed the path of holistic nutrition.

I read on your blog that you suffered from hormonal imbalance, anxiety, and digestive problems growing up. Can you share how that impacted you?
There were many times I felt “hopeless”. I went to many specialists and no one could offer a solution other than prescription medications. This was ultimately what drove me to become my own health advocate. I gave up dieting and began living! Being unwell has inspired me to continue to take good care of myself and stay on this wellness path. The truth is – you are the best person to take care of you.

What is the best snack to have while taking a study break and why?
Something with protein, good fat and complex carbs. Most people snack on carbs and sugary treats which spike your blood sugar and cause a crash.  Carbs and sugars make you cranky, crave more and ultimately it does not provide the body with what it needs. A smoothie with berries, banana, spinach, protein powder and almond milk or sliced apple and almond butter or my carrot cake balls is a great alternative. My carrot cake ball recipe is provided below.

What are foods that energize you?
Green smoothies, nuts and seeds, vegetables, whole fruits and the avoidance of refined carbs i.e. cookies, chips, crackers.

What is a common nutrition myth that you can dismiss?
Diets don’t work because deprivation is not sustainable. Not all calories are created equal – so if you focus on whole, high quality foods your body will thank you.

Where did the idea of Toronto’s first ever integrated nutrition and yoga program, Eat Well, Feel Well, come from?
Eat Well Feel Well is a 6-week holistic nutrition and yoga program designed to help people create a healthier body and mind in a peaceful and loving environment. We created this program because we felt and still feel that people need more self-care. This program teaches you, (without being preachy) how to take good care of — YOU!

Joy McCarthy is a Holistic Nutritionist, author of Joyous Health: East & Live Well without Dieting, professional speaker, nutrition expert on Global’s Morning Show, Faculty Member at Institute of Holistic Nutrition and co-creator of Eat Well Feel Well, Toronto’s first integrated nutrition and yoga program. For more information visit her website at www.joyoushealth.com

Joy's Carrot Balls Recipe

(Click Photo to Enlarge)

Selina McCallum is a GEMgirl in the 2014/15 cohort,  student at Marc Garneau C.I. and a Digital Journalism Intern for GEM.