Transcript – Lopa van der Mersch of Rasa on Outlier Academy – EP. 39

Please enjoy this transcript of my conversation with Lopa van der Mersch, Founder and CEO of Rasa, a brand of adaptogenic tonics often used as coffee replacements. From Episode #39 of Outlier Academy.
Last updated
August 4, 2021
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Along with yoga, Lopa practices Kalari, an ancient Indian martial art.
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Please enjoy this transcript of my conversation with  Lopa van der Mersch, Founder and CEO of Rasa. We talk about the challenges and rewards of being a founder, branding and customer love, and energy intelligence). Transcripts for other episodes can be found here

“Right now my question is, is this something that I and only I can do? And I'm prioritizing even more not just for time, but also my energy, and the amount of bandwidth that it takes.” – Lopa van der Mersch


Lopa van der Mersch is Founder and CEO of Rasa, a brand of adaptogenic tonics often used as coffee replacements. Her background in molecular biology and yoga studies led her to seek a healthier alternative to coffee. She founded Rasa in 2018, and the brand now boasts 20 employees, a lineup of eight adaptogenic products, and a $5 million run rate.




Part One: Lopa van der Mersch of Rasa – Creating a Healthier Coffee Alternative

Daniel Scrivner:

Lopa, I am so excited to have you on the show to talk all about Rasa and why coffee is the enemy. So, thank you so much for joining.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Way to set me up like the devil. Hi. Thanks so much for having me, Daniel. I'm excited to be here.


Daniel Scrivner:

I'm super excited to talk with you about Rasa. I drink Rasa daily. I love it. So, I'm really excited to explore the product, the business and just a bunch of cool things about how you have grown the business, how you run the business that I find fascinating. But to start, I'm sure some people listening haven't heard of Rasa, could you just give a quick pitch of what it is, a little bit of background on the company? Just how old the company is, maybe size, stuff like that.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Sure, we do super functional coffee alternatives. We were actually the first adaptogenic coffee alternative to market. And we can get into adaptogens a little bit later on if people are like, what the heck. Super functional, we distinguish as being every single ingredient has a purpose and a function in every single product. We have about eight products across our line. We hard launched three years ago, three years and a few months at this point, April 2018, was in beta for a couple of years before that.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And it's been a wild ride. We're doing great, about 20 people on our team and at a roughly $5 million run rate. Things have been growing fast. And clearly, we're not the only people who think that coffee is evil slash that you need to have a healthy balanced relationship to coffee however you do.


Daniel Scrivner:

Yeah, I think evil is probably triggering, because I mean, I drink coffee. I love coffee. I think a lot of people do.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Coffee is great.


Daniel Scrivner:

It is, but I think talking with you, I mean, we've had some super interesting conversations about what people don't realize that drinking coffee does to your body. And I thought it might be interesting to start there. One of the things that you talk about quite a bit is just energy awareness and being in better regulating your energy. I guess, can you compare and contrast what happens when you drink a standard cup of coffee and how is that different than what happens when you drink a cup of Rasa.


Lopa van der Mersch:

I like to think of coffee as a little bit of a blunt object for your energy. It's going to work, it's going to do the thing. But the reason that you get such a lift from it is that it is directly stimulating your central nervous system. And if you think about it, like a loud bang also stimulates your central nervous system really well. And coffee is kind of similar. So, like, it's a little bit shocking to your system, which is governing and regulating and causing balance in your entire body. And then, it also causes a cortisol release from your adrenal.


Lopa van der Mersch:

So, it's literally stimulating a stress response. And your body has a natural cortisol cycle anyway, so you have basically a peak of cortisol roughly at about 9:00 AM. And then it starts to downfall until about 6:00, which is when your melatonin starts to take in. When you drink coffee, your body starts to get dependent on this cortisol release from the coffee.


Lopa van der Mersch:

If you're drinking it, say before 9:00, then you might have your spike at roughly 9:00, and then you might come down a little bit earlier in the afternoon, say about 2:00, 3:00 when you might crash, I don't know, that's a maybe common crash time. [crosstalk 00:02:51].


Lopa van der Mersch:

Yup. And then you'll probably get another little spike later in the night, which makes it harder to go to sleep. So, it starts to mess with that natural cortisol cycle, which is part of your circadian rhythm. And it also, because you're stimulating that cortisol response a little bit artificially, your body's like, "Oh, I don't need to make cortisol. They're going to do it for me. This coffee is going to come in and do it for me." And so, that's where you start to also develop that dependency.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Additionally, coffee, it doesn't actually make you less tired. It just fools your body into thinking that you are, so it actually blocks. So, adenosine is the neurotransmitter that makes you feel sleepy. And caffeine blocks the adenosine receptors so that suddenly it's like, "Oh, I don't have that sleepiness." So that adenosine actually isn't getting into the receptors.


Lopa van der Mersch:

But your body's smart. And it's like, "Well, I'm just going to make more adenosine receptors because I'm freaking tired." And so, that's where you also ... That's another factor in the whole coffee dependency cycle.


Lopa van der Mersch:

So, it's a very physically dependency forming substance. I like to use the Ayurvedic adage, which is for whom and when. For some people, coffee works great. And you might be listening to me, like, "I don't have any problems with my sleep. Everything's great. She should shut up about coffee. It's perfect." But some people might be like, "Oh, I'm seeing so many symptoms." And it really depends on who you are, the type of constitution that you have, as well as your relationship to coffee.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And so, I'm really big on it's not actually that coffee is the devil, it's about how you use it, just like wine. If you have a glass of wine with dinner, it's a beverage, it's wonderful. If you need two to three, four glasses to be able to feel functional, you got a problem.


Lopa van der Mersch:

I predict that where we're going in some years, I would say maybe 10 years, we're going to start seeing a shift where people think of coffee as similar to alcohol where if somebody said to you, "I need two glasses of wine to get started in the morning," you'd be like, "Oh, you have a problem." But if somebody says you need two cups of coffee to get going, you don't think anything of it.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Now contrast that to adaptogens, which are and are well researched opinion, a much superior way to stimulate and much healthier for your body. Adaptogens are actually overall regulating for your central nervous system and they're regulating. So, coffee is a neuroendocrine disruptor and adaptogens are neuroendocrine regulators. And neuroendocrine, it means your nervous system and your endocrine system coming together.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Those together are kind of the mainframe of your body. They touch every single ... Your neurotransmitters and your hormones govern absolutely everything that's going on in your body at any time. Get that system working well, everything works better.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Adaptogens are a class of herbs. There's four criteria to be called an adaptogen. We call it the four Ns, which is they need to be normalizing, which means they have an overall balancing impact on your body. They help you maintain homeostasis. They have to be nontoxic in normal therapeutic doses. So, normal therapeutic doses means like if you go out and drink three gallons of the stuff, yeah, you might have some negative impacts. But for the most part, they're pretty safe for most people most of the time.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And then they need to be nonspecific. So, they're working throughout the entire body. It's not like, oh, they're just good for the liver. No, they're working. And that actually ties into the fourth N, which is neuroendocrine. They have to have this impact on your neuroendocrine system, where they're actually strengthening and balancing your body's stress response system.


Lopa van der Mersch:

So, we have two main pathways that our body uses to communicate to our adrenal is that there's a stress trigger. And for most of us, these systems are in overdrive all the time because modern life is just stupidly stressful. And that's your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which is HPA axis. And then, sympathoadrenal system, which is your SAS. And those two systems both tell your adrenal is like, "Hey, we have a stress event, we're going to need some cortisol here."


Lopa van der Mersch:

And adaptogens basically, they mimic stress in a good way, like exercise does, and make those two systems stronger, so that like, just think about, if you don't exercise at all and you go to pick up a five-pound weight, your legs kind of heavy. Just like with stress, the littlest thing can start to get you off if you're not strong in those two systems. And so, these herbs actually helps to strengthen those two systems so that a 15-pound weight doesn't faze you in the same way that a five-pound weight. So, like a big stress event just doesn't quite get you as freaked out for as long or as often.


Lopa van der Mersch:

That's why we packed Rasa with these particular herbs, so that you're replacing something that is overall kind of a shock to your system. It might be an exciting and wonderful high of a shock. But it's a little bit like drugs. You know you don't want to do them every day. And then replace that with something that's going to just generally help you to be able to have more cope with life.


Daniel Scrivner:

Fantastic description and super, super detailed. On the adaptogen piece, is the root of that just that it's helping balance, helping your body adapt? Is that where that term comes from?


Lopa van der Mersch:

Yeah, that's where the term comes from. And then people say like, "Oh, it helps you adapt to stress," which is great, but it's very oversimplified because there's actually some really, pretty fascinating mechanisms of action that are going on in the bod. And our chief herbalist on our team is a walking encyclopedia and he can talk all about the glucocorticoids in the brain and how that's impacting your stress response. It's pretty amazing. I'm roughly at the stretch of my knowledge getting into glucocorticoids there.


Daniel Scrivner:

Well, I think that was great for everyone listening. Just to go back to the beginning, hearing you describe that, you're incredibly passionate about it. It's also incredibly intricate and really nuanced just your understanding of it. And I'm curious, how much did you know about adaptogens and herbs before founding Rasa or was there more of an impetus to learn and try something new that sent you off on this journey? Talk a little bit about the founding and how it got started?


Lopa van der Mersch:

Yeah, sure. So, I've been into adaptogens since way before they were cool. They've been really trending in the recent years. And I think I first started taking them 15, 16 years ago, something like that. Basically, when I first started getting into Ayurveda, and king and queen adaptogens of Ayurveda are Shatavari and Ashwagandha. Probably can't say this in front of the FDA, but I swear Ashwagandha really helps to heal Hashimoto's for me. That was an herb that I was working with really closely.


Lopa van der Mersch:

So, yeah, I mean, that's a good place to start is I had a crap ton of health issues of both small and large and hypothyroidism had made me really depressed and just not really able to do anything. And that started to get me into ... I worked both with western medicine as well as alternative options and had kind of equal success in both places in different ways. And so, I got really into herbs. I've always been an enthusiast. I'm not an expert. I never went to school or anything, but I would have jars and jars of herbs in my kitchen and stuff like that.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And then so, Rasa actually started. I would just kind of use herbs in my life however I was so inspired. But then in 2015, I had just a phenomenally stressful year. I now call it my own personal 2020, but included. My husband and I left a cult. I had an emergency back surgery while pregnant, moved across the country, lost a family member, had a major falling out with my family, had a traumatic caesarian birth with my kid. I was just completely fried. I needed something to keep me going. And I had a baby waking me up all the time and was exhausted. And so, I tried coffee.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And I've never been a big coffee drinker. I was actually like, I was a barista in my early 20s, and I was the barista that did not drink coffee and was trying to make everybody matte lattes and stuff. But even my staunch Ayurveda friends at that time, and Ayurveda would genuinely say, Ayurveda, if you're not familiar, is the traditional medicine system of India. And it's depending on who you talk to between 3 and 5000 years old.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And it doesn't tend to look very favorably on coffee for most people, although there are some constitutions where coffee is actually very medicinal. And so, if you're listening and you're like, "Coffee works great for me," you might be that type, or you might be just overriding yourself.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Usually, you have to quit to kind of get familiar with it. But anyway, even my most staunch Ayurveda friends were like, "This is the time that you just guzzle coffee. You're a new mom, just drink all the coffee." I had coffee maybe four times and panic attacks, irritability, waking up at ... It messed up my sleep even more, jitters, all the bad things you don't want, just not worth it.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And so, I tried all the coffee alternatives out there. And it's like, really? This is it? We could put so much more into this. And then I started considering the coffee ritual. And here's this drink that we don't even really question societally that many, many, many people are addicted to.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And I was like, "Huh, so everybody's drinking this. It's a very ritualized thing. We drink it every day." And that's how so many of these herbs actually do their best magic as if you're drinking them consistently daily.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And then the other thing is that coffee is one of the few widely accepted bitter tastes in our society. So, there's generally in our culture, we don't really love bitter overall. I happen to like bitter quite a bit, but it's an acquired taste. But coffee and chocolate are these bitter tastes. And a lot of herbs out there are actually quite bitter, a lot of the really good medicinal herbs. And I will say most adaptogens on their own tastes like shit. They're really not tasty herbs.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And so, I was like, "Wait a second, okay. If we can make a really robust, slightly bitter taste that mimics that coffee ritual and make that out of some really medicinal herbs as well, and then stick all these others in there, we could put so much more into this cup."


Lopa van der Mersch:

It's something that's actually regenerating people's energy and helping them to cultivate what we call energy intelligence, as opposed to using their drink to override their body's signals and just continue to be a cog of productivity for a society that just doesn't give a fuck about them.


Daniel Scrivner:

[inaudible 00:12:44] to that answer. On the energy intelligence, talk a little bit about that. What does that mean? And what does it look like when someone is really in tune? And what does it look like when someone's not at all in tune with their body and energy?


Lopa van der Mersch:

Yeah, yeah. I think for so many of us we tend to disconnect when we feel discomfort. There's a dissonance there. We're like, "Okay, great, I'm not comfortable. So, what am I going to do? I'm tired, so I'm going to have coffee. I'm too revved up so I'm going to have wine. I'm exhausted and so I'm going to binge Netflix." There's so many different ways that we can disconnect from our actual state.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And intimacy with our energy, I think we don't tend to realize how much the quality of our energy impacts the quality of our decisions, the quality of our actions, where in ourselves we're coming from. Am I coming from my best self right now with really wide access to awareness? And I would say from the scientific perspective, from your cognitive executive function, which is the beauty of what makes us human.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And so, often, we're actually overriding all these little signals from our body and really coming from more of our limbic system or somewhere more based brain. And we're not actually making our best decisions from that perspective.


Lopa van der Mersch:

So, we define energy intelligence as consistently making a practice of what's the quality of my energy today, at this moment, and then how can I best support that so that I'm my best self and can give my best to a world that so dearly needs it and deserves it.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And so, I wrote a post the other day where I woke up and I was snapping at my kid. And I was just like, I felt brittle and dry. And I was like, "Oh, here's where I'm at right now. Okay, what can I do about this?" And so, I often look at which Rasa, I make myself eight different products. And so, there's one for different moods and I was like, okay, when I really felt into my energy, it starts with having intimacy with our energy.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And an energy can also be something that can be a little bit and people think of it as woo or what is energy really? It's a feeling state of our body. Emotion is energy. Energy intelligence would be just like a little bit broader of an umbrella as opposed to say emotional intelligence. But it's a feeling quality of like, what is it you'd like to be me right now, when I felt into my body, that day. I was like, doesn't even feel like I have arms. My energy is not going into my arms at all or my legs. And it's like all kind of moving around over here.


Lopa van der Mersch:

So, I drink Calm Rasa. And that really helped to kind of settle things. And then from there, I was able to also start, and this is one of the things too, the magic of adaptogens, no product is going to change the amount of stress in your life overall. I'm not going to be the first to tell you that we're not going to save you from your lack of child care or from societal oppression or any of that.


Lopa van der Mersch:

But if you get that even 5% extra buffer and 5% more access to your cognitive executive function and your ability to step out of the frame of your suffering, and be your own coach, or be your own parent, access your higher self, whatever frame resonates for you. And then say like, "Okay if I was parenting this child right now, what would I say we should do, if I was coaching this person right now."


Lopa van der Mersch:

And so, at that point, I got my feet in the earth. I drink a bunch of water. And then I was like, "I need to get out into nature." Within 45 minutes, I brought my kids out into nature and they're still screaming and wild, but I cared a lot less. I'm just walking you through one personal anecdote of what it was like for me to experience energy intelligence.


Lopa van der Mersch:

So, I started with intimacy with my energy, which then brought out my energy intelligence. And then by the end, I had energy integrity. I was actually working with the energy that I had, and not trying to, like be like, "Oh, well, I hate this and so, I'm just going to watch TV with the kids or whatever."


Lopa van der Mersch:

I was like, all right, what's really going to be medicinal. I have a friend that talks about toxic versus tonic pleasure. So, toxic pleasure is something that you have to recover from. If you choose to drink two or three margaritas because you're just feeling like shit. You know what, I've done it, too, no shade. We all have been there. But that's probably something that you're going to have to recover from. Whereas tonic pleasure is something that's like, "Okay, I'm going to take a bath. I'm going to read something inspiring. I'm going to connect with a friend and reach out because I need help." And that's something that actually gives back to us instead of takes a little bit from the future.


Daniel Scrivner:

That's a fascinating breakdown. As you said that, I could immediately identify, yeah, I definitely have, I'm not always in tune with it. But I definitely notice that there are different forms of energy that I have. And I think some are really short burning, high intensity. Some feel just very calming but I could go forever.


Daniel Scrivner:

And especially hearing you say that, if your job involves a lot of decision making or just getting a lot done in the day, that makes a ton of sense that the quality of the energy you bring to the day really matters.


Daniel Scrivner:

Something I find fascinating that I want to get into a little bit is how much work you do around the quality of the ingredients that go into your product. But before we explore that, just because you touched on it a little bit there, can you kind of map out because I think it would be helpful those eight products that you have today and how those break down because I know there's Elderberry and Cacao and Calm. I don't have the best sense of when I should have one or the other. So, I thought maybe I'd ask you.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Yeah, yeah, great idea. Most of our blends are based more or less on the same formula, which means that, whether you switch every day or whatever, you're still going to be getting a functional tonic dose of the herbs.


Lopa van der Mersch:

So, we have our Classics line, which is Original Cacao and Dirty, which are strictly based on that original 12 herb formula. There's so many different angles. I can go into each one, but Original is 12 herbs. It's a good daily drinker any time of day. We have many people who drink it at night as well. For some people, they would find that too stimulating. So, it really kind of depends on the person. That's a good sort of anytime on, and it has roughly 3,000 milligrams of adaptogen per serving. So, you're getting really functional dose in all of our products.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And that's an important distinction. I mean, I see a lot of products in the industry, we call it fairy dusting, when they just like sprinkle, sprinkle, cool, put it on the label, and then you're not actually going to get anything functional out of that at all.


Lopa van der Mersch:

So, then Cacao is that formula blended with direct trade cacao, Ecuadorian single source, beautiful supplier there. That one tastes kind of like a healthy hot chocolate. And cocoa has theobromine And so, has a little bit of this heart opening impact. It is definitely a mood booster overall. So, that's a good one. It's also freakin delicious. So, I mix that into a lot of different products.


Daniel Scrivner:

It's my favorite products.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Yeah. And then, Dirty is actually mixed with coffee. And we get also really beautiful coffee. We tested dozens of coffees to get one a coffee that wouldn't get all weird with Rasa's longer brew time because a lot of the coffee's getting acidic and kind of acrid if you brew them too long. This one goes perfectly with those blends, sourced only from women-owned farms, which is remarkable and an industry that pretty much excludes women from ownership and leadership.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And so, that one has about one quarter of the amount of caffeine compared to a regular cup of coffee. And that's a great one for you want a little caffeine. You want to get going but the herbs balance out the impacts of the caffeine. It's also a good gateway drug for a lot of people. They're not quite ready to make the leap or they really want that straight up coffee taste. And that's one that I'll often throw a tablespoon into my French press just to give myself a little bit more of a kick.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And then, we have our special blends line. And these are all products that we released to be limited edition products. And we got hundreds of requests to bring them back. I mean, incredible, incredible reviews and stuff. So, we're like, "Okay, I guess they're becoming permanent now." And so, our line expanded a lot faster than we intended.


Lopa van der Mersch:

So, that is our Spicy Rose blend that is a libido supporting tonic and a note on that, so, there's a lot of libido products out there. Not a lot of them work super well is one note. But then the other side, our herbalist was saying, he was like, "I could jack this up with a bunch of herbs to really make people feel something." But the way that we approach things is more from a tonic herbalism perspective.


Lopa van der Mersch:

That jacking up approach is similar to the way coffee does things. And we're coming at it from the perspective of how do we address the deeper issues that are causing people to have lack of libido anyway. And so, that's replenishing these deep stores of energy that you have to feel a little bit replete to feel like you want to get it on. You can't be super burned out and stress.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And so, these herbs really help to address that while also having herbs to help open the heart and just get us out of our freakin heads and also some herbs that will help get things moving and flowing in all the right places. So, I'll say, my husband totally serves that one to me as a come on.


Daniel Scrivner:

Just makes you a specialty.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Like "Hey, I made you some Rasa." Yeah, coffee alternative. But yeah, he'll be like, "I made you some Rasa." I'm like, "Oh, Spicy Rose." And it's definitely something that if we have a big date or something like that or an anniversary, I will often drink for a couple of days, have two or three cups a day for a few days. And then that really help to build things up.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And then we have our Elderberry blend, which is sort of an everything that you want in an immune support. I noticed that it's not meant to be used this way, but I think this is the way that we all tend to work with immune stuff. As soon as you have a little tickle in your throat, then you're like, "Oh, I better drink this." But it's actually meant to be something that you can take all season long to help strengthen your immune system. But it's definitely something that I'll drink two or three times a day. My kids get sick, I'm like busting out the Elderberry.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Anytime that you're in an immune situation or you're like, "Wow, I just had a bunch of exposure in a place where I wasn't sure if everybody's vaccinated or whatever," then that'd be a good time to drink up on some Elderberry.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And then Super Happy Sunshine is just what it sounds like. Sunshine in a cup was what we were going for, has a really beautiful urban at called Sceletium that we get in an ethical partnership with the San Tribe of South Africa. It's a sacred herb to them.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And so often in the world, our globalized world, somebody goes to another country and like, "I found this cool herb." And then they just go and sell it in the west and make a bunch of money off of it and there's no exchange. Not one ounce of this herb from this particular company was sold before there was a formalized partnership with the San Tribe, and they get a revenue share agreements, and they are actually working in the farms as well and have ownership and they're on the board and it's really beautiful.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And that herb if you Google it, it's also known as Kanna, you'll find on like vice.com and stuff, it'll say nature's MDMA. It causes a big serotonin boost in your system. You'd have to drink a fair amount of our four or five cups to really feel anything close to that MDMA effect. And that's on purpose. We're not trying to get people high. And it's also $2,000 a pound. So, we have to be careful with how we use it. But we have the functional dose as 12 and a half milligrams. And we have I think 15 in there.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Going back to Spicy Rose, we've had people tell us they had their first orgasm. We've had people tell us that they're pretty sure that they have a Rasa baby that they're pregnant with, amazing things. And with Super Happy Sunshine, we actually had people tell us that, we released it in 2020, and they came back from the edge, the edge of the cliff, the edge of the building kind of thing. We had multiple people tell us, "I literally think this product saved my life." And we were like, "Okay, we will bring it back. We can't say no to that."


Daniel Scrivner:

It's amazing.


Lopa van der Mersch:

It's a good day. You want to have a happy day, it's usually my Monday blend. That's what I drink on Mondays. Just be like, "Okay, it's going to be a good day. It's going to be all right." I am probably going way too far on these. I love these products. And so, I'm proud.


Daniel Scrivner:

No, this is great.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Okay. And then we have our lux line, which is Calm and BOLD. And these ones are more expensive because they have a lot more extracts in them. So, they each have the equivalent of almost 10,000 milligrams of adaptogens per serving. So, very potent extracts. We have a lot of 10 to one-


Daniel Scrivner:

Four times.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Yeah.


Daniel Scrivner:

Was that three times, a little bit more than three times.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Yeah, exactly. And the BOLD is we were going for like how do we help people feel the coffee thing without the coffee. And I don't think that we succeeded because like I was saying, caffeine has such its own impact. But what we did succeed in was creating a completely different perspective around what really powerful energy can be. And so, it's much more grounded. It's not slightly aggressive, like, I can do anything, like almost cocaine like impact of coffee. It's much more like a grounded open focus.


Lopa van der Mersch:

There's a lot of herbs in there for brain and cognitive flow, performance, athletic recovery, all really some great herbs in there, so that's one that I'll drink. It's also a little bit dangerous in terms of if you have a crap night of sleep and you drink two cups of BOLD in the morning, you'll feel pretty much normal.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And I say dangerous just because you don't want to abuse that and be like, "Oh, I can just sleep six hours." No, you need to sleep. But if you have a young kid, and I drank the crap out of BOLD for a while, I was just like, "Oh, god, I feel halfway normal. And I don't even know how I'm getting five interrupted hours of sleep a night." So, it's great for that and great for when you have that extra push for a deadline or something like that.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And then, Calm is very relaxing. It's relaxing without being sedative. So, for most people, it's not going to put you to sleep. But many people do drink it before bed or drink it as their afternoon thing.


Lopa van der Mersch:

I actually like it the most as a replacement for that after work glass of wine that I got really habituated on in COVID, because there's a very high dose of reishi in there. And just to go a little bit on that one particular herb, there's a bunch of other herbs in there, too. But reishi in Chinese medicine is said to help settle the Shen back into the heart. Shen is your spiritual energy basically.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And so many of us, especially when we're in working mode or decision making mode and all that, we're really kind of like walking heads, talking heads. We exist up here. And when I drink Calm, I really feel it come back down to my heart and I'm ready for family mode. But I also drink it sometimes in the morning. And a lot of people drink it either after work, after dinner or before bed.


Lopa van der Mersch:

So, it's very downregulating, very relaxing. There's a clinical dose of ashwagandha in there. And I mix them a lot, too. Right now, I'm drinking BOLD and Joy together. BOLD and Calm together is a very unique experience. It's like powerful and really relaxed, which is kind of awesome. So, you can have fun with that, too.


Daniel Scrivner:

That was fantastic. So, when we were talking before, I mean something that I think is staggering is that you source 48 herbs across 12 different countries. And you touched on it earlier, but you also literally have a trained herbalist on staff that's coming up with all these combinations, doing all the R&D, and then making sure that every single batch meets your criteria.


Daniel Scrivner:

And I'm curious, if you could talk a little bit about those two things, why they're so important to you into Rasa, and then if you contrast that, because I would guess that that's probably not very common in the coffee alternatives adaptogen space.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Yeah, it's sadly uncommon. I do wish that there were more and more herbalists out there doing these kinds of products. I think in the trending wellness world, there's really a bit of a thing where people are like, "Oh, that's a trendy ingredient, stick it in there, it'll be great." And herbs are powerful. If you have the wrong herb in the wrong context, it actually can really mess up different things. And I don't want to go too far into that. I don't want to scare people, but it is real.


Lopa van der Mersch:

There are different considerations. The way that you formulate something is actually really important. We go out with everything to be like, "Okay, how do we make this the most safe, the most effective and the most supportive for the most people." And I see a lot of products out there where I'm like, cool, you just saw four trending ingredients and then threw them in the bag and call it good.


Lopa van der Mersch:

We actually have four herbalists on staff at this point. We have a thing for hiring herbalists because we end up also doing a lot of education. So, we have herbalists on customer care, and on wholesale sales as well and on social media. And so, that just helps with our overall education. But then, our co-founder and chief herbalist is also our QC manager, and he actually used to buy 10 million pounds of herbs every year when he was a senior buyer at Celestial Seasonings, one million pounds of just chamomile. It's amazing.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And came to us actually when he was just about to get promoted to head of sourcing for Celestial. He just felt like he could do more and have more engagement with sustainability and the supply chain and the ethics and all of that.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And which herbs you choose really makes a difference both in terms of safety and efficacy, as well as sustainability. There are a lot of herbs out there actually that are starting to as they get more popular, their supply chain sustainability and ecosystem concerns. One of which is chaga, which is trending hugely right now. I see tons of chaga products out there.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And chaga, as an example, it grows on one in 20,000 birch trees, and it grows in Siberia quite a bit. But then you don't think about some of these down system consequences. But for example, in Siberia, they're having to go deeper and deeper into the forest to be able to find the chaga, which is actually disrupting habitat for the Siberian tigers, which these are amazing nine-foot long tigers, which are endangered. So, don't get wildcrafted chaga unless you have a really strong need to. It's an incredible immune mushroom. And so, people say that you should save it for cancer patients, for example.


Lopa van der Mersch:

So, having an herbalist, every single herb not only has its own function, the formula but also has its own function in support of and in contrast to the other herbs in the formula. And it's like this, I don't even know how ... Like the herbal math that he's doing is just really incredible, balancing out the different functionalities and making sure that there's synergies when the herbs work together and that there actually is the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And then, he's also a professionally trained taster, as well. He does the whole slurping thing and everything. And he tastes every single batch of herbs that we get. And we actually reformulate the products almost every single time because we're dependent on nature. We're dependent on climate. We're dependent on factors that we don't have any control over.


Lopa van der Mersch:

So, if we get an extra strong batch of, for example, ashwagandha, ashwagandha's name literally means smell of a horse. And it's act. You don't want too strong of ashwagandha in there because people can be, "Ugh." And so, if we get an extra strong batch of ashwagandha, then we have to tone down the formula or balance something else up a little bit. And so, we've probably reformulated each product, where especially our original 40 times or something like that every time we do a batch.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And I'm proud to say we get a bunch of herbs or Chinese herbs come from an incredible supplier and this massive nature preserve out in China. I think people often hear China and they're like a cesspool. And that's not actually only the case. If you want to look at some really beautiful nature pictures, look up Changbai Mountain in China, stunning, stunning place, and genuinely the largest nature preserve in China.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Anyway, our Chinese herbs come from there. And they also supply to some yogi teas and pukka teas and a lot of much bigger companies than we are. And I'm proud to say that we are their biggest pain in the ass clients. Because we have such exact specifications, which is also because our formula is very complex. And so, we have to make sure that everything balances just right and tastes just right. So, yeah, there's a lot of tasting that goes on around here.


Daniel Scrivner:

I want to transition and talk a little bit about just how much customer love you guys have. I mean, you shared a few quotes and testimonials with me and they're just incredible. And I guess something I wanted to talk a little bit about is where you think that comes from? Because I think what I see broadly is people, founders, especially consumer companies obviously want that response. And they try to figure out how to engineer that.


Daniel Scrivner:

Start with the brand and throw on some social media, trying to get to something to be able to elicit that. And I'm curious how much of that do you think is the brand? How much of it is literally just the quality of the product? Just your observations on where that comes from.


Lopa van der Mersch:

It's a little bit of both. There was no engineering here. I do not know what I'm doing. We started out like, I am learning how to build a business while building a business. We're building the plane while flying the plane. I've been a cofounder in a few businesses, but never in CPG before and it's very different being at the helm. So, yeah, definitely not engineered.


Lopa van der Mersch:

I would say there's a couple of things. We definitely underpromise and overdeliver in terms of what the product can do. And people often come to it like, "I want an alternative to coffee. I want something that's going to taste good and do the thing." They might be like, "Well, it seems a little expensive for just a drink."


Lopa van der Mersch:

But then some people go ahead and make the leap or many people fortunately for us. And then they drink it a few times or sometimes they drink it once. We just had somebody review from last night where they were like, "I felt amazing. I didn't have my afternoon crash. My husband loved it. He was able to focus all day in a way that he hasn't." That was their first time.


Lopa van der Mersch:

But these herbs, part of it is the magic of the herbs. They have a cumulative effect. So, the longer you take them and the more consistently you take them, the more you actually feel them. There's one herbalist that says that one of the herbs in our blend, you don't really get to know it until you've been drinking it every day for six months.


Daniel Scrivner:

That's a high bar.


Lopa van der Mersch:

We don't put that.


Daniel Scrivner:

Marketing.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Yeah. But because it's such a habitual drink and because we inserted it into this daily ritual for people, they do get to have that impact. And then, they're like, "Whoa, my life has changed." Or they go out of town, and they realize what changes when they don't have it. So, yeah, I think a lot of it does come down to the product.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And then, I think well part of our brand is there's a transparency and an intimacy and a friendliness that I think is not very commonly seen. We get a lot of people that say they don't feel like they're being marketed to or when they contact our customer care, it feels like they're talking to a friend.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And I encourage people to take that extra few minutes to really make a connection. If somebody gives you a personal detail of their life and you can relate to it in some way, shape or form, relate, just go ahead and relate. Tell them about your experience. Be a person. Don't be a representative of Rasa. I think that that's another thing that has engendered a lot of brand love.


Lopa van der Mersch:

But I had to really put it on there, I'd say it's probably 80% the products and what it can do this. These herbs really work. And for many people, liberating themselves from coffee, I actually had a customer use that phrasing to me, like "I feel liberated." It actually is a very profound and very life changing impact.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And then, we've gotten people that say that they're more patient with their kids, feel better with their spouses, and we actually had somebody tattoo a Rasa cup. It looks like a coffee cup, but it's a Rasa cup. We get pictures from kids and we've gotten people writing us poems and songs. And I mean, just incredible stuff. We feel very, very blessed.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And I think the other thing, too, is we really walk our talk. We don't bullshit. I don't know how else to say it besides that. And I think that people can feel that fundamentally. They feel like, okay, we have a reason for the things that we do. We are willing to let them into that reason. We are a lot more transparent than most businesses and all that engenders more and more trust.


Daniel Scrivner:

Yeah. And unfortunately, I mean, all those things you described here, they all require effort, they all require more time and energy and attention spent. So, they are too rare. So, I'm not surprised, but I think that's incredible.


Daniel Scrivner:

I want to talk a little bit about your journey as a founder. And I mean, what's fascinating is one quote that I'm really fond of, is just this notion that there is no such thing as learning business, that every business is hyper unique. And so, I think in some ways, every founder can relate to what you said. Every founder is, in many ways, learning how to build the plane while they fly the plane.


Daniel Scrivner:

But I want to know a little bit about your experience. And I'm curious, maybe to start just to think about it through two lenses, and one is what's been infuriating, challenging? What's been the side of the job that has been most challenging? And then what are the things that are deeply rewarding, and what are the things that keep you moving forward?


Lopa van der Mersch:

People and people.


Daniel Scrivner:

Typically, the case.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Yeah. Getting the right team has been a challenge. Although at this point, we have a fantastic team. So, it was years of hair pulling learning. And I think now, we're in the place where it's like, "Oh, wow, this is really working. We really do have the right people in the right seats doing the right jobs for the most part."


Lopa van der Mersch:

I think another thing that has been just infuriating and challenging is we're doing what I would say so much in the right way. We're painstaking in the amount of care that we put into almost every single detail and decision and all of that. And I think now, I'm starting to see that we've maybe under indexed on some of the things that might have gotten us the recognition that I feel like we deserve for that.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And so, I see some of these other brands out there getting tons of press and tons of this. And I'm like, "But we have the ... Come on. We're pretty PR-able story, I think." I try not to get too comparative about it. That's not helpful. But then there's also I ended up kind of reflecting like, "Well, am I doing something wrong?" And then I'm like, "Well, maybe it's just because we haven't dumped $10,000 a month into PR because we're more focused on, is our supply chain really tight." We've been bootstrapped up until this point.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And so, we didn't go out and raise a bunch of money, and then just be like, okay, great, go ahead and get the super expensive PR agency and that sort of thing. So, all of our PR has been organic. And I shouldn't complain. We've been in Forbes. We've been in Daily Beast and some other great ones, but I just feel like we deserve more.


Lopa van der Mersch:

So, sometimes that's infuriating, seeing some of the other practices that other companies get away with, or I feel like they're cheating, and we're really not. We put so much value into the product. Instead I had this rant on my Instagram the other day where I got this box in the mail, and I was like, "The box cost $10, guys. I know this. I know how much these things cost. That's a $10 box. The value is not in the product. It's in the box." But people like that.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And so, I think some of it is not quite uneducated, but needing to be more educated consumer base in general about some of these things. And then, things like fairy dusting. Adaptogen washing is something that also drives me freakin bonkers. We've coined that term, because we just saw it happening so much where a company will say that something is adaptogenic and it's actually not.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And there's scientific criteria. And there's a whole body of scientific research that's continuing to progress where they're doing more and more studies on these different herbs. But there is a relatively small class of herbs that actually fall into the class of adaptogens. And it's about 30 herbs, depending on how generous you are in your scope. Some people would say it's just nine or 10.


Lopa van der Mersch:

They're like adaptogenic everything and I'm like, "Zero adaptogens in that product. What the hell are you doing?" And like, I know you're just charging more because you're like, "That's adaptogenic," and the market will take it.


Lopa van der Mersch:

So, all that kind of drives me nuts. People issues are always just kind of the worst. If we have a personnel issue on the team, that's where I'm losing sleep and can't unlock my brain from whether I do something wrong. Maybe it's the process of the company and how do I fix that, just all of that. So, all those are infuriating and frustrating.


Lopa van der Mersch:

I think the other thing that drives me nuts, thanks for giving me a chance to rant, this is so therapeutic, is there's so much in the founder entrepreneur world, like "I'm killing it. Another win, we close the deal. We hit this milestone." It's just all good, good, good. And people don't share. I'm crying at night because we launched this thing. And we really thought it was going to do this and this and it didn't. Now, I just feel like I'm just pushing a rock up a hill.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And I actually posted something about how I started crying in our leadership retreat. We had an annual planning leadership retreat about a month ago. And within the first hour, man, I was crying in front of our entire team as they were saying all the things that were wrong with the business. Like here's what we're not doing well and I just took it way too personally. I was like, "It's all my fault and I'm causing suffering."


Lopa van der Mersch:

And I posted about it, because I was like, people need to see that this is real and this happens. And I got a bunch of people that were concerned about me in a way that they shouldn't have been concerned about. It was like, dude, those 10 minutes of my day. My business is actually killing it but this happens, and we need to normalize this a little bit more.


Lopa van der Mersch:

It is a constant level of tremendous amounts of work and of holding an entire system that nobody except for somebody who's been an operator and has been a founder or been CEO is going to really understand how much that the totality of that is. And I mean, it's tremendously rewarding too, going into that side of it.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Our customer reviews are the number one thing. Anytime I get down on the business, we have a reviews channel on Slack and we post the great reviews there. And I just peruse through those and I'm like, we're doing a good thing. We are changing people's lives. That is a common phrase that we say that this is life changing. It's game changing.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And we have really beautiful customers, too. I mean, they're just great people. And I don't know if it's because partially our transparency and how we communicate and stuff. But people write us these really creative and funny reviews and stuff, really put time into them. And so, that's definitely the number one.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And then, we have a great team. We have a lot of fun. I actually just went through and edited our employee handbook to throw in a bunch of jokes and make people actually want to read it. Our HR consultant was like, you're going to send this to a lawyer. It's like, no. And he was like, 10 out of 10, it's great. And totally, people are going to want to read it. But the lawyer is just going to want more legal ease in there.


Lopa van der Mersch:

We laugh a lot. It's really fun. And I think one of the things I'm really jazzed about right now, too, is actually, we've been running our business, actually, the book right next to me on Traction, or EOS, the entrepreneurial operating system, I was a little bit haphazard about it for maybe the last year. It's a good system, but it's like a little rigid, and is it going to fit our specific business, blah, blah, blah.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And then I started to realize that a lot of the problems that we were having were actually process, not people. And I started getting more rigid about how we enforce and roll out traction, and OES. And oh, man, I'm high on this right now. I'm like, we're going to just follow this book to the tee. Because it's a really good system. I see it as sort of the infrastructure or the hardware. And then, we bring in the cultural software into that. And that cultural software is infused with things like conscious leadership and Brené Browns, their lead work and stuff like that.


Lopa van der Mersch:

But Traction really has the brass tacks, this is how you run a business kind of thing. And it's been just really great to have that feeling of like, "Here's 20 people, and they're all pointed in the same direction. And what can we do with that? That's amazing." I'm hot on that one right now.


Daniel Scrivner:

I've heard of EOS. I've never read Traction. So, for anyone listening local, literally pick up a book that says Traction on the front. So, make sure we link to that in the show notes. I want to ask one follow-up question on that, which is in what ways do you think you've grown the most? What has been exciting and rewarding for you personally about going through this journey?


Lopa van der Mersch:

Oh, man, a lot. Entrepreneurship and parenting feel like unparalleled in terms of what they can actually do in terms of personal growth. Intimate relationship also has that capacity, but with business, you kind of are bringing together parenting and intimate relationship and creating something in the world all together. And it's a pressure cooker, man.


Lopa van der Mersch:

I mean, some of the big takeaways, some of the big lessons, on the people front for a while I was underselling myself and the business and the opportunity. And there was some deep uncertainty in me about whether I in this business deserved the best people possible for example.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Some of that we justified on a surface level of like, "Well, if we get less trained people, less experienced people, then it's cheaper, and we're bootstrapping. And so, then we can train them up." And then, of course, wasn't doing the math on how do you train something to know to do something that you don't know how to do yourself? That was a big learning of just seeing this opportunity and this business is really worth investing in. And that I as a leader worth having that level of support.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And I think that ties into another one of, I think this is a common founder journey is I went from doing everything, every single customer response to packing the boxes, all of it, to having to get myself more and more and more out of the weeds. And then this last year, there's been a real process of we tripled our team last year. And so, there was a lot of cultural change in how do we build all these processes. And we're all on Zoom for most of the last year as well. And so, how do we have a killer company culture in this remote context?


Lopa van der Mersch:

I'm still in the journey of right now my question is, is this something that I and only I can do? And I'm prioritizing even more not just for time, but also my energy, and the amount of bandwidth that it takes. If somebody makes a one-on-one with me and doesn't put in an agenda, and there's part of my brain thinking about, well, what do they want to meet about. And I spent, I don't know, like, probably eight minutes over two days thinking about that and wondering about it. It's eight minutes and energy and bandwidth that I actually don't have.


Lopa van der Mersch:

So, I need to be really freakin judicious with how I am allocating the bandwidth I have and really looking at what is it that I am uniquely suited to do and that zone of genius perspective. And then, I think another one going into energy intelligence, they all kind of dovetail together in a way. But the quality of energy that I bring to the business ripples out without question.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And so, for the first three years, I took almost no time off, including weekends. I mean, I was just powering through. And then, I've got two kids, young kids, and you know how not relaxing that is?


Daniel Scrivner:

Yes.


Lopa van der Mersch:

I get off my first job and then go to my second job, and then go back to my first job after the kids went to sleep and everything. My nervous system, it's almost like Rasa becomes an extension of my nervous system. And so, how regulated I am really ripples through the business and the quality of my energy really ripples through the business.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And I've really just been finding that the times where I most feel like I can't take a break or where I most feel like I don't have the time to spend thinking about a big issue or go meditate so that I have the bandwidth to do that. When I really feel like I can't is the time that I most have to, when I'm trying to instill that in my leadership team, especially as well like, go ahead and take a break. You're pushing a rock up against a wall here, you need to take a break on this. So, working with my own energy and knowing that if I am inspired, spacious, grounded, that my company is going to be more of that too.


Daniel Scrivner:

I think that's a fantastic insight. And I've never heard it said that way where it's about energy, it's about your presence but it's super, super, super powerful. Well, thank you so much Lopa. But we're going to wrap this part of the interview now on this question. We'll move to the second part of the interview in just a second. So, for anyone listening, we're about to go behind the scenes a little bit to talk about how Lopa shows up her best self every single day. If you're curious, stick around.





BONUS Lopa's Habits, Influences, and Life Lessons – Lopa van der Mersch of Rasa


Daniel Scrivner:

We're back with Lopa from Rasa. And I'm super excited to get into this second portion of the interview with you. The first question I want to ask, which kind of ties is and we talked a lot in the last interview about being aware of your energy and really recognizing that as the CEO of the business, your energy is going to ripple out into everyone else that works with you, works alongside you.


Daniel Scrivner:

The question I typically ask to start is things that you do, can be daily, weekly, monthly that help you show up as your best self every day, and you can take any direction you want.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Sure, yeah. First and foremost, right now I practice an ancient Indian martial art called Kalari. It looks like Kalari, but it's pronounced it Kalari, super intense and I absolutely love it.


Daniel Scrivner:

How did you find it? I've never heard of that style.


Lopa van der Mersch:

It's kind of been underground, but it's having a little bit of a renaissance. I think that you'll start seeing hearing about it more and more over the next couple of years. There's some folks that do martial arts training all around the world. They travel and do YouTube videos about it. And three hours of Kalari was more intense than six hours a day if shaolin kung fu. It was pretty hardcore. And I found it through a friend.


Lopa van der Mersch:

So, I actually have a history of through most of my 20s, I was studying in an Indian lineage was initiated. That's where I got my name. I was meditating three, four hours a day. It was a central focus of my life. A friend of mine there just happened to post a Facebook like, "Hey, my friend in India is doing this online Kalari course." And I was like, "Yeah, I want to try that." And I've been doing that since October.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Right now, it kind of feels like my entire life revolves around making sure that happens every day. It's one of these instances of you spend energy to make energy. It's a very regenerative energy cycle for me. I absolutely love that, really into intense physical practice right now as a way of just sweating out the shit. All this stuff that bogs us down, pretty similar to yoga, which I've also practiced for about 20 years.


Lopa van der Mersch:

I'll do some yoga poses kind of here and there throughout the day. I'm just trying to get into a consistent rhythm with a seated practice. Again, just because kids really make that kind of challenging. But when I can sit for an hour, an hour and a half, but that's like I need to get up before they get up. And right now, my sleep is kind of sketchy. So, I'm prioritizing sleep. I'm actually going on a retreat next week, which I'm very excited about.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And so, getting little bits of unplug time when I can is really important. I'm going to try and at least do one day of retreat per quarter, totally offline, just meditating as much as I can in that day.


Daniel Scrivner:

So, not even an active day, like you don't set it aside to think about stuff. It's literally a day to not think and just disconnect.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Invariably, I will think about stuff. And I actually did a couple of days, I tried this out what I now call a CEO retreat. I maybe did that like a month and a half ago. And I meditated for four hours a day, which was awesome. And put me in this really spacious frame of mind. But then I also brought a bunch of books.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And so, then was just kind of like cycling between meditation and reading and writing, and you're getting a lot of inspiration so that I would also like to try and start doing it at least once or twice a year, sort of like Bill Gates does with his think weeks. Yeah, just having a little bit more formalized structure on that.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And then, of course, drinking Rasa helps. I'm also really into tea and tea ceremony. And that ties into the meditation away for a bit. So, drinking tea out of a cup is great. But drinking the right kind of tea ceremonially in my experience, it's like it puts my body in a meditative state. And all I have to do is show up and can literally be like that wide open space of like, I've been on retreat for four days. And so, yeah, tea ceremony is a really great way for me to have access to more spaciousness.


Lopa van der Mersch:

So, I would say a lot of what I'm going towards is more energy and more spaciousness, more awareness, cultivating more awareness. And then a practice that I do as much as possible throughout the day that is easy free and I would recommend to anyone is what's called second attention practice. And that is right now my primary attention is on talking to you. But you can cultivate another layer of attention kind of underneath that.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Like as I'm talking about this, you could be listening to me and have your primary attention to me, but you could also be thinking about your right foot at the same time. Amazing, right?


Lopa van der Mersch:

We've all had this experience, too, when we are driving somewhere and we get to our destination, we're like, "Wow, I don't even remember the last 10 minutes of the driving." And that's because your thoughts became your primary attention. And driving became the secondary attention.


Lopa van der Mersch:

And so, having your primary attention on whatever it is that you're doing in your day, but having a secondary attention that connects you to presence. And that can be your breath, breath is easy, free and cheap and regulates your nervous system as well. That can be an affirmation that you're working with. It can be awareness of your body. It can be awareness of your energy. It can be a mantra. It can be any number of things, visualizing something that inspires you or what you're going towards.


Lopa van der Mersch:

But you just kind of keep coming back to that all day long, as many times as you can throughout the day. And I'll say at my worst, I might not remember it for a week and be like, "Oh, shit, that was Tuesday. And now, it's next Tuesday. And I completely forgot about the entire time."


Lopa van der Mersch:

But on a good day, I'll remember a hundred times and just kind of keep coming back to it, keep coming back to it. And then that muscle get stronger and stronger. And then you're more rooted in something that gives you that little bit of separation between you and your reactivity, gives you a little bit more awareness so that you're, again, making better decisions and not coming from a narrow frame of mind.


Daniel Scrivner:

It's fascinating. When you talk about something that grounds you to the present, is it touching a chair you're seated on. I guess any recommendations for what that could be?


Lopa van der Mersch:

Well, I mean, breath is a really great one. Definitely recommend what could just be awareness of your breath. I happen to do a mantra that I work with, but it has to be something that kind of works for you. Bodily sensation, I think is a really, really good one for a lot of people. And full body sensation might be tricky to accomplish.


Lopa van der Mersch:

So, it might be like just awareness of your heart center or something like that, that's just going to help you get I think so many of us are just really stuck in our heads all day because of the way modern culture impacts us. So, awareness on your heart or even sometimes, I'm on my computer and I legitimately forget that I have feet. And so, having awareness on your feet-


Daniel Scrivner:

Or legs.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Yeah, exactly, could be another great one. Just be like my feet are on the ground. I am connected to the earth.


Lopa van der Mersch:

When you're first starting out with it, you can play with different things. I would pick one thing that day and just try and see, does that do the thing where it tethers me to something deeper? And then if that doesn't work, I skip around and then stick with it for months at a time once you find your thing and be like, okay, this is my thing, and I'm just going to really drill a groove in my neural pathways to focus on this one.


Daniel Scrivner:

Okay. I'm going to ask a couple quickfire questions. First one is a book worth reading?


Lopa van der Mersch:

Hunter, Gather, Parent.


Daniel Scrivner:

I have no clue, but I'm fascinated by the title. Question worth asking?


Lopa van der Mersch:

How am I feeling right now?


Daniel Scrivner:

Piece of advice worth passing on?


Lopa van der Mersch:

Don't get caught up in what is my purpose, just do something.


Daniel Scrivner:

A cause we're supporting?


Lopa van der Mersch:

Sustainable food systems.


Daniel Scrivner:

An activity worth doing?


Lopa van der Mersch:

Meditating.


Daniel Scrivner:

A word worth knowing?


Lopa van der Mersch:

I'm actually going to go with something a little bit more basic, freedom, but in the way of being really intimate with what it means for you.


Daniel Scrivner:

Last one, quote worth remembering?


Lopa van der Mersch:

How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world, Ann Frank.


Daniel Scrivner:

Okay. And last two closing questions we ask everyone, do you have a favorite failure?


Lopa van der Mersch:

Oh, man, there's so many, what a wide expansive potentials to draw from, overindexing on compostable packaging. This is a Rasa a specific failure. When we started out, I was just like, compostable packaging is the thing that exists so we're only going to ever have compostable packaging.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Little did I know that that would require us to change packaging seven times and invest probably $100,000 in multiple different packaging iterations and all the rest. And actually, currently, we don't have compostable packaging because we had an emergency situation where the supplier backed out and all of that.


Lopa van der Mersch:

So, it was a failure in the sense that I really stuck to a value and was pretty obstinate about it. And it actually cost the business money and expansion, and it just wasn't actually the best approach where we should have parallel paths.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Here's a recyclable packaging. And then, we're going to work on our final results compostable packaging, which we will now be launching I believe, at the end of this year, if the supplier move their shit together.


Daniel Scrivner:

I love that answer. That it's a compostable packaging. The closing question we ask everyone, your definition of success.


Lopa van der Mersch:

Living what you are uniquely here to do in integrity with that, because if you're doing that, you're not going to burn yourself out. If you're doing that, you're going to have the impact that you're meant to give in this world. You're doing that you're taking care of yourself, et cetera.


Daniel Scrivner:

These were amazing answers. So, thank you so much, Lopa. This has been an incredible interview. It's been awesome to sit with you and chat with you this whole time. So, thank you.


Lopa van der Mersch:

It's been a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me, Daniel.




On Outlier Academy, Daniel Scrivner explores the tactics, routines, and habits of world-class performers working at the edge—in business, investing, entertainment, and more. In each episode, he decodes what they've mastered and what they've learned along the way. Start learning from the world’s best today. 

Explore all episodes of Outlier Academy, be the first to hear about new episodes, and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform.

Daniel Scrivner and Mighty Publishing LLC own the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of the Outlier Academy podcast, with all rights reserved, including Daniel’s right of publicity.


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