Updated: Jul 24
The Filipina Feminists spoke to Roanna Medina of the Humble Market to ask her advice on how to start a business and embrace a more environmental lifestyle. How does she make environmentalism a more personal issue? As a successful business owner, what tips can she give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
If you know us personally, you would know that we've both wanted to switch to more eco-conscious lifestyles for a while now. Through the years, we've made simple changes, like using metal or bamboo straws instead of plastic, bringing our own reusable cups when we buy coffee, and taking tote bags with us to the grocery store.
But there are still a lot we can do to make our lives less damaging to Mother Nature. On a daily basis, we use soap, shampoo, and cleaning products that are made of chemicals. When we buy items from online stores, we unintentionally contribute to plastic waste because of the packaging material that sellers use to protect their products during transit. Every month, we also use menstrual products that are obviously unsustainable.
There are so much more we can do to protect and preserve Mother Nature! And so we figured: What better way to learn how to become more environmental than to ask someone who runs her own eco-friendly and sustainable brand?
In the midst of the enhanced community quarantine, we hopped on Zoom and spoke to Roanna Medina, founder of the Humble Market, The Healthy Row, and Seeds of Life PH, to discuss how she started her business and why she's chosen to be more eco-conscious in life and in business.
Roanna is a practicing Integrative Nutrition and Functional Medicine Health Coach. She graduated from the world's largest nutrition school for health coaches, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in New York City, and completed a coaching program from the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy (FMCA), which was in collaboration with the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM).
If you've had a chance to speak to Roanna, you'll be able to tell that she's really passionate about her business and advocacy just by the way she talks about them. And it's understandable because, for her, environmentalism is a personal issue. When we asked her about her inspiration for creating an eco-friendly business, she shared with us that it all started when she was diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease.
Hashimoto's disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid glands. In particular, it causes hypothyroidism, and it affects more women than men. After her diagnosis, Roanna started changing her lifestyle to keep her body healthy. The doctors also told her that this disease can be cured in three years with the proper medication.
However, as her three-year mark came closer and closer, she didn't get the results she was hoping for. She was told later on that she had to live a life of medicine dependency. That's when she started looking for answers elsewhere.
Roanna turned to functional medicine and found a new world of healing where her health, lifestyle, and the environment are all interconnected. "As I was learning these things, I was already down a rabbit hole," she told us, laughing. Her health was the starting point of her journey towards environmentalism.
In fact, this is how the Humble Market came to be. Through the Humble Market, Roanna aims to share her holistic lifestyle and make it more accessible to other people. She believes that by supporting the environment, we can achieve better health. Conversely, if we take better care of ourselves, we are also taking care of the environment. "If we’re healthy, then the world can’t be sick because that’s how strongly connected we are," she said.
She noted, however, that "because of the norms that we’ve grown accustomed to, it’s difficult to make changes in your life when [you] feel like the problem is so huge." The Humble Market also addresses this issue. Because people have better access to more eco-friendly and sustainable products, starting the change towards a more environmental lifestyle, no matter how small or humble the first step is, will be much easier.
Given her eco-friendly business, we asked Roanna if she considers herself an environmentalist. "Yes," she told us, "but we can address environmental issues through different ways." She further explained by reminding us of this turtle with a straw lodged up its nose:
Roanna pointed out that some people who saw this video were inspired to make changes to their lifestyle because they have a strong personal connection to the ocean, while others may not have been as moved, like those living in urban spaces.
"We live in Metro Manila, the largest city in the country, where there's more concrete than natural spaces. For majority of people here, I don't think they have as strong of a connection to marine life as those who live in the provinces."
Aside from her autoimmune disease, her environment (or urban setting) is one of the reasons why Roanna chose to focus more on health. While nature can be seen by some as an external, disconnected thing, health is always a personal issue because it directly affects people.
"The way I'm doing it is through health because health is personal. And as I mentioned earlier, everything is connected. So no matter where we start in addressing certain issues, it creates a ripple effect... If we're able to help people understand that to improve their health can also improve the health of the environment, then we believe that it's a much more impactful way of doing our work."
You can find all-natural, organic, and vegan products at the Humble Market. Not only do these products improve your health, but they are also good for the environment, which is what Roanna was talking about.
But aside from making environmental issues more personal, we wanted to know if Roanna has other tips that can help us and you, our readers, to shift to a more eco-friendly lifestyle. We were expecting her to give us a list of the things she does on a daily basis to help Mother Earth. But instead, she answered our question by giving us five actionable steps that everyone can follow:
1. Make a choice.
Roanna: The first step is to make a choice. Set the intention. What is it that you really want to achieve? Is it better health or a cleaner environment? Or is it, like, no plastic in the seas? Because sustainability is very broad, you first need to understand what that means to you.
To illustrate, let's say that you want to decrease your plastic waste, so you can make a choice to lessen your consumption of unsustainable plastic products. This is your starting point.
2. Observe your habits.
Roanna: Once you know what you want to achieve... The next step is to start looking at your habits. Try to observe your routines day to day, and take stock of what things contribute to your goal and what things don't. Then, slowly make those changes and do them one by one.
If your goal is to decrease plastic waste, you can take note of all daily activities where you're using unsustainable plastic products. Do you buy coffee everyday? What container is used for that? Do you order food regularly? Does it come with plastic utensils? When you shop, do you bag your groceries in plastic?
3. Start simple.
Roanna: The important thing is to just start. That's the reason why the name of our business is Humble Market. We're trying to push for the idea that to make any changes, you just have to start small. Humble, right? Start simple.
Like, if you're the type of person who brushes with a plastic toothbrush, then maybe that's one thing that you can change. Maybe switch to a bamboo toothbrush...
4. Suspend judgment.
Roanna: Another step that I add to the list is just to suspend judgment towards yourself and towards others. I see a lot of people not do this step and that's actually what hinders them from moving forward.
For example, when you go to the supermarket and you forget your reusable bag, it's so easy to beat yourself up because like, "Oh no... Why did I forget?" That mentality is gonna discourage you from working towards your goal the next time. Because that mistake remains in your mind.
So I think it's important for us to suspend judgment and to forgive ourselves for those mistakes because nobody's perfect. The important thing is that we consistently work towards our goal, no matter how small the action is.
5. Have fun.
Roanna: You have to have fun. It has to be a fun process; otherwise, you're not gonna sustain it. And I think it's a very simple idea, but it's very essential because... If you're gonna try something and you don't like it, then you're not gonna keep doing it. But if we're gonna change the norm, if we're gonna make sustainable living the new norm, we need to do little things consistently. And we can only do that if it's fun for us.
While we had Roanna on Zoom, we also wanted to talk to her about business. In particular, we asked her these questions:
1. As a female entrepreneur, did you face any unique challenges when you started your business? How did you overcome them?
2. Do you have any advice for women who want to start their own businesses?
It was so interesting to hear Roanna talk about why and how she started her business. In fact, we were both surprised to hear her story because we had the same motivations when we founded The Filipina Feminists.
"Well, I am where I am today because of my upbringing. I grew up with three brothers, no sisters, and I grew up in a family where I was reared to become a housewife. And I hated that," she told us. We laughed when she said this because both of us are only girls, too. And we can also relate to her upbringing, which—we're sure—a lot of you do as well.
"What I heard growing up was, 'Learn how to cook so you can cook for your husband.' Like, I'm always the first one asked to clean the dishes or do the chores, versus my brothers who I think had a more comfortable life even though we lived in the same house."
Roanna laughed as she looked back at her younger years and what it was like to live as a girl in a patriarchal family. However, taking a more serious tone, she said, "There was always an expectation that I was going to be a housewife." She wanted to rebel against this idea.
"I knew that it wasn't the life that I wanted for myself. I knew that it wasn't right to be treated differently from my brothers... That environment created a fighter in me and really pushed me to be an overachiever because I felt like I had more to prove than my brothers."
We know the feeling.
But like Roanna said during our conversation, our generation—the girls who were raised to be housewives but rebelled against this traditional gender expectation—is now creating opportunities for ourselves. "That's how it's supposed to be. If there are things that we want in our lives, we really have to have that fire to go after it no matter what. And if it's not available, then let's create it."
As for her advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, Roanna simply said: "Just start."
"Anything you want to achieve, including starting your own business, you just have to start somewhere because you can only get better with practice."
She wants to remind everyone that no entrepreneur found success overnight. You must continuously learn about your business, be present as much as you can, make mistakes and then learn from those mistakes. According to her, the most important thing to remember is that,"If you want it, then you can achieve it."
We want to thank Roanna for spending time with us and sharing her thoughts on environmentalism and entrepreneurship. We learned so much from you and we're very grateful! Please check out her website and follow the Humble Market on Instagram.
This post is sponsored by Simula PH.