Anne Swain

Changing your work-life to welcome more freedom and fulfillment is a process and a journey. Here, every month, we will share stories of women who are doing it. Real stories, real transformation. This is a virtual treasure chest -- full of the challenges, struggles, lessons and insights of others -- which you can use to enrich your own path.

This month’s featured “woman on purpose” is Anne Swain, a former marketing manager working for various multi-national companies. She’s now a Certified Nutrition Health Coach and co-founder of a healthy food business, The Whole Kitchen, in Singapore.

Describe the big shift you’ve made in your work-life. What led you to that change?

Three years ago, I decided it was time to change my career and follow my passion for nutrition. At this time, I was working as a Marketing Manager with a multi-national consumer goods company, an industry I had worked in for 8 years. While there were parts of my work that I enjoyed, I didn’t feel like it was aligned to my true self. I felt I had more to offer, more to give and wanted to feel a greater sense of purpose.

I have always had a passion for healthy living. It was through my active lifestyle that my interest in nutrition developed. And I saw firsthand the importance of properly fueling the body for its optimum performance and overall wellbeing.

Making my career shift has been a journey. I started by enrolling in a yearlong nutrition coaching course, which had flexible hours so I could study while still working at my corporate job. This allowed me to test the waters. To see if I enjoyed nutrition as much as I thought I would, which I did! After graduating, I started working as a Nutrition Coach for UFIT, the largest independent fitness company in Singapore.

I realized during this time that there were still limited healthy options for busy, on-the-go people, especially for breakfasts and snacks. And many so-called “healthy options” were still high in sugar, artificial additives and lacked real taste.

After meeting Susan, a professional chef who is also passionate for real food, we decided to bring our skills together to create wholesome, healthy and gourmet food without compromising on taste. With this, The Whole Kitchen was born. We now have a central kitchen and a full range of granolas, energy balls, nut and seed snacks and healthy cakes, all naturally gluten free, refined sugar free, made from premium whole food ingredients and all focused on having low natural sugar levels.

What were you most fearful of in making that change?

Change is scary. It takes us out of our comfort zone, but needs to be faced if you want to grow. I was most fearful of giving up everything I had worked for over the past eight years for the complete unknown. Will I like it as much as I think I will? Will the grass be greener? Is it too late to make a change? What if our idea doesn’t work out? These were all regular thoughts I had. But what helped me was by turning these questions around and asking, “What is the worst thing that can happen?” I quickly realized there was no answer good enough to stop me from trying.

How is your experience of life different now?

Life is completely different now! Running a small business means I have to wear multiple hats every day. From marketing to packaging, logistics, finance and sales all in a day. No two days are the same. It is hard work and can be very challenging at times, but is also extremely rewarding to be making a positive difference to people’s health and wellbeing. I am grateful to have such an amazing business partner to create our vision and share the ride with. I am also grateful for our growing strong team and a big network of like-minded people to gain inspiration and learn every day.

What’s your biggest concern in this moment?

Trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Even when you are doing something you love, you still need to switch all of it off to recharge and connect to the people who matter most in your life.

What are you most excited about going forward?

Taking The Whole Kitchen to the next level! We have been in market for a year and a half now and have been so overwhelmed by the support and encouragement from all our amazing customers, consumers and friends’. It gives us confidence to continue to create healthy and delicious products for everyone to enjoy within their busy lives. We have some exciting new products in development, so stay tuned for more exciting updates from us soon!

If you could travel back in time, what’s one piece of advice that your current self wishes that you could tell your former self?

Follow your passion not just your head when it comes to your career. We spend so much time at work so it is important to enjoy what you do and find your purpose within it. If you don’t know how to get started, start researching – you might try asking people around you, volunteering or studying in your field of interest. The most important thing is to JUST START, even if they’re baby steps. You are never going to be fully prepared for the challenges you will face along the way, but if you don’t start, you may never have the chance to go on the journey of your lifetime.

About Anne Swain

Anne is a certified Nutrition Health Coach and holds a Bachelor of Commerce from The University of Sydney. She has worked in various sales and marketing roles within multi-national companies prior to retraining as a Nutrition Health Coach, where she worked with hundreds of people to make positive changes to the way they eat for optimum health and vitality. In 2015, she co-founded the health food company The Whole Kitchen, a natural gluten free, low sugar real food company based in Singapore, created to support people’s health through convenience within their busy lives. She is passionate about nutrition and is on a mission to share this message with everyone.