A New Day, A New Dawn

A new professional organization paves the way for gender-equality in business.
by Cara Lucas

A clean slate, a fresh beginning, and a new start—these are gifts we receive every morning as we commence a new day. Human nature, no matter what level, inherently seeks out opportunities for growth and development. It’s instinctive to want to achieve more.

Reserveage Organics CEO Naomi Whittel knows how to take advantage of an opportunity and through her new initiative to help women succeed in business, is determined to give future female entrepreneurs a leg up in executing their dreams.

Whittel recently launched DAWN (Developing and Advancing Women in Naturals), which provides professional guidance, resources, and networking opportunities for women in the natural products industry. It also stresses the importance of sustainable and socially responsible business practices.

“There are a number of reasons why I [created] DAWN,” says Whittel. “The natural industry is really focused on women. [But] I look around at my peers and my friends in this industry, and I’m really disappointed there aren’t more female leaders. They are working at different levels within the industry, but they aren’t at the place that I know they can be. There are small changes that [DAWN] can make to create a different environment for these women. I believe, based on my experience, I can share a lot of insight [that can help].”

It’s obvious why this just makes good business sense. Women are the main supporters of the natural products industry and thus women leaders, one would think, should know exactly how to support their clientele. But according to Whittel, it is easier said than done.

“There is a Harvard business study that looks at all of the key qualities of leadership; women are powerful in almost all of those except for this one called ‘envisionment,’” explains Whittel. “Envisionment is the ability to see how to move a project forward on a larger scale. This is something I believe we can teach [these women].”

And Whittel is doing just that. Aside from workshops and newsletters, she leads by example, with her company’s successful startup speaking for itself. Reserveage Organics’ sales jumped 64 percent in the first year alone, and held 30 percent of the resveratrol market share as well.

Part of the appeal of Reserveage is its commitment to sustainable business practices, along with a socially responsible business agenda. Whittell founded the company based on the principle that their products should not only nourish the body but should also protect the planet and preserve traditional cultures. They harvest their top-of-the-line products from an organic vineyard tended by seventh-generation farmers in the south of France.

“We are actually able to offer a superior product to the consumer (better quality, better price) by partnering in a greener way,” says Whittel. “To me, it’s just smart business.”

It’s a smart business that she hopes to impart to other women in the industry. To shed the negative, often-attributed persona of a woman CEO, Whittel is hands-on, compassionate, and engaged with every level of her company. She touts female-associated skills such as kindness, assertiveness, and empathy as an advantage to provide gender-equality in the natural products arena.

“I think that the natural products industry is designed to lead the way for women,” says Whittel. “It’s just part of our DNA. The amount of care that goes into our industry gives us that advantage.”