Jessica Sepel, founder of JSHealth and JSHealth Vitamins, is a 3 x best-selling health author. She is passionate about empowering people to give up dieting and nurture their bodies naturally – for life.
Jess has always believed in the transformative power of vitamins and nutrients and, in JSHealth Vitamins, her aim is to bring science-focused formulations in specific doses, with the intention of nourishing wellbeing and confidence from the inside out.
What started you on your wellness journey?
I come from a background of health-conscious women and always knew that I wanted to be a clinical nutritionist. An interest in the interplay of health, body and mind was deeply instilled in me from a young age.
That said, I had some setbacks. My family moved from South Africa to Australia when I was in my early teens and that was the beginning of a disordered relationship with food and my body. I think this was partly due to the culture of the time – magazines portraying so-called ‘heroin chic’ and new fad diets coming out all the time – but also because of relocating at such a critical age. Partly, there was an element of feeling out of control, and trying to gain control over whatever areas of my life I could, and partly, it was being the new girl and having to establish myself all over again. Being ‘thin’ was like a ‘way in’; a way to attract attention and make friends.
Did these habits continue even once you were studying nutrition?
Oh yes – but over the course of my five years of study, and learning more about nutrition, I slowly began to question more about common perceptions of ‘health.’ I also started therapy, which helped me to heal my relationship with food and my body and, as I started a process of ‘undieting,’ nourishing myself properly, it was impossible to ignore the fact that I was feeling better, both physically and mentally. I was developing healthy recipes, eating delicious food, and no longer weighing myself obsessively. In 2012, I started to blog my journey, really exposing my vulnerabilities and issues and soon amassed a large following, which led to a bidding war for my first book – The Healthy Life – with two more books following.
How did JSHealth evolve from a blog to the nine-figure business it is today?
The success of the books really gave me a platform from which to expand, and I launched an eight-week programme and a Smartphone app, both of which helped to establish a dedicated JSHealth community. I was also working in my private practice, seeing first-hand the issues that my clients – primarily females – were struggling with. My fascination with the power of supplements to really transform people’s lives, health and confidence was what led me to develop and start my own range in 2018, using my savings of just AU$40,000. We’ve recently launched in the US and are available in over 3,000 retailers worldwide, including Boots, Selfridges and Harrods here in the UK.
As a clinical nutritionist, do you encounter scepticism from people thinking that a balanced diet should be enough to promote optimum health, without the need for supplements?
Oh, absolutely – and of course, as a clinical nutritionist, I am absolutely passionate about the power of food to provide nutrients. But supplements are there to provide extra support when needed – and there are certain vital substances – probiotics, for instance – that food simply can’t provide enough of. The value of supplements is not to replace a healthy diet, but to deliver medicinal therapeutic doses, which provide a solution to a pain point.
The wellness market is flooded with supplements: has this been a challenge for you and how do you differentiate your product?
There have been a few hiccups along the way with copycat products, branding and so on, but you just have to take it as a compliment and not give it your energy, really. At the end of the day, I have great relationships with most of our market competitors and I know that our product is unique because it stems from a genuine desire to help people and to deliver precise, targeted, transformational formulations – and the results from our clients speak for themselves.
What’s your customer return rate and best-selling supplement?
We have about a 65% return rate and our best sellers are Hair + Energy – the first supplement we ever created – along with Skin + Digestion and Detox + Debloat.
This obviously gives some insight into the issues most commonly faced by your customers.
Yes, digestion is a concern for many – and, of course, studies are providing an increasing awareness of the link between the gut microbiome and mental health. Anxiety, low mood, poor sleep, skin, hair loss and loss of libido are other key concerns for many JSHealth customers.
So, aside from being mindful of the gut-brain connection, what are some of your other tips for managing stress and its impact on our health?
Learn to say ‘no’ and set boundaries to reduce overwhelm. Ensure you move your body for at least thirty minutes a day – it doesn’t have to be a HIIT class; listen to your body and move in the way it wants to, rather than putting it under undue stress. Switch your phone off a few hours before going to bed to ensure a restorative sleep, and take time to breathe deeply, right into your belly, to stimulate the vagas nerve and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes rest, relaxation, and good digestion.
You speak of switching off your phone – how do you see the role of social media in the wellness space?
It’s a double-edged sword. Obviously, it’s a powerful marketing tool and many businesses probably wouldn’t survive without it. But at the same time – and with my own history of disordered eating – I’m conscious that it can promote harmful comparisons, intrusive thoughts, and anxiety. As far as our own social media presence is concerned, I hope to get across the message that JSHealth is a brand that cares about you and how you feel, not about how you look.
What are some of the key lessons you’ve learned, both personally and professionally, on your JSHealth journey?
To not be afraid of challenges, because they will always open new doors and present new possibilities. They’re an opportunity to grow. For instance, my disordered eating gave me JSHealth – and the challenges I’ve faced in my personal life have made me strong enough to manage the ones I’ve encountered professionally.
Where do you see yourself long term?
Back in private practice – it’s what I genuinely love doing; having those positive and transformational relationships with clients and seeing, first hand, how their lives improve, and their confidence grows. I started JSHealth, not to make money, but because of a genuine desire to help people.
The Successful Founder Magazine is the go to feature-rich magazine for founders on all stages of their entrepreneurship journey .