Mollie Chen is the VP of Brand and Customer Experience at Hungryroot, a direct-to-consumer food company that makes it easy to eat healthy. Mollie is a cofounder of Birchbox, the beauty ecommerce site, where she built the brand, community, and content strategy for six years. In addition to her current role, is an advisor to early stage consumer companies, including Collective Retreats and Misfit Foods. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter, where she spends an inordinate amount of time thinking about food and general life optimization.
What is your typical day like?
My husband and I are up around 6 or 6:30am, when our daughter, Lilly, wakes up. We both love working out in the morning so we switch off days—on my days, I love going to Equinox for classes. We also try to have coffee and breakfast together, which is one of my favorite parts of the day. I get to the office around 9:30 and try to catch up on emails before my first meetings start. Depending on the day, I might be in 1:1’s with my team members, or doing planning around our key objectives, or weighing in on an upcoming photo shoot. It’s a cliché but there is no typical day. I leave the office around 5:45 in order to get home for Lilly’s dinner, bathtime, and bed—then after that, Rob and I make dinner for ourselves and debrief on the day.
Which parts of your day do you find stressful, and how do you manage those moments?
There’s very little downtime when you have a toddler, and I find myself constantly trying to figure out how to get more hours out of the day. The mornings can feel a little insane with trying to squeeze in exercise, real breakfast, and household stuff, and I often feel like I’m a chicken with my head cut off—I counter that by trying (trying!) to listen to podcasts on my way to and from work instead of staring at my phone, and by fitting in exercise whenever I can. If I’m having a particularly insane day, I force myself to leave the office and catch my breath.
What are your usual self-care habits?
Exercise is how I stay sane (and balanced), and always has been. It helps me clear my mind, get out the anxiety or stress, and start fresh—on the days when I can’t work out, I try to get in extra steps by walking the long way to and from the subway, or going out for a walking meeting during the day.
What is the most transformative book you have read?
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande changed the way I think about aging and end-of-life care. It also made me appreciate what my body can and does do each day, and grateful for the time I have with friends and family.
If you find out you only had a week left to live how would you spend it?
Oof. I’d spend it with my family, probably eating and drinking delicious things and getting outside for walks and adventures as much as possible.
To you, where is the most fun, interesting or cool spot in your city?
I wouldn’t say it’s the coolest but I love my little corner of Brooklyn—Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill. I’ve lived here for eight years now and it’s the perfect blend of low-slung beautiful brownstones, leafy streets, and great bars/restaurants/yoga studios/shops. It’s also a quick walk down to Brooklyn Bridge Park, which just keeps getting better and better.
What is one helpful and informative Instagram account you would recommend following?
I’m a big fan of Bon Appetit and they consistently have great cooking inspiration on both @bonappetitmag and @healthyish.
What is your favorite hearty recipe?
I don’t eat a lot of super rich food but I do love all sorts of grains, pastas, and things on toast. I make a lot of grain bowls with brown rice or wheat berries, roasted vegetables, nuts, and tahini sauce, and also love pasta with sauteed kale or broccoli rabe and sausage. When it’s crazy cold out, my husband makes the Serious Eats classic Italian meatballs. So good.
What is The One Thing you do daily, that keeps you balanced and in check?
Kiss and hug my daughter approximately one million times. That, and try to move my body in some way and eat a good breakfast.
Images provided by Mollie Chen.