Jessie Dahling, Lisa LaFon and Anne Trauter are three best friends and moms to toddlers who founded People for Greens, a food company launched in October 2019 that sells to-go salads. These meals boast zero preservatives and are sourced from Arizona-based purveyors.
“Everyone seems to be missing a salad that is nutritious, plant-based and has actual real greens in it, not just iceberg lettuce and rubber chicken. We decided since we couldn’t find anyone doing that, we would do it for ourselves,” Dahling said.
Between the three women, they have five kids, all under the age of four.
“Our lives are crazy; we need convenience, but we are also health-conscious and foodies, and we want to eat good food,” LaFon said.
The women each have a niche they fill: Trauter oversees finance and operations, Dahling is the “creative arm” focused on branding and packaging, and LaFon is dedicated to the “people part,” like communications.
“We have a great working dynamic because we have different strengths, so it works well for us,” Dahling said.
All three women have been friends since they met at Chapman University in Southern California. They’ve lived together and have now started businesses together.
“We’ve been very intertwined in our lives for a very long time,” LaFon said.
Trauter is from Phoenix. She graduated from Chaparral High School and returned to Arcadia in 2006. Trauter and Dahling started a food brokerage company together 10 years ago, which helps get brands onto grocery shelves. Dahling later married a chef and owned two restaurants with him here in the Valley.
Trauter introduced LaFon to her future husband while she was living in another state. The ladies joke that it was all part of Trauter’s master plan to get them to all move to Arcadia. The women live within a mile and a half from each other, which helps with managing the business.
The group recently landed a deal with McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park to carry their salads at Hartley’s General Store at the park and are also working on adding new prospects.
“It is not lost on us how lucky and blessed we are to have our friendship,” LaFon said.
The women say that balance and respect is the key to making it all work; making time for themselves with and without the kids. They say their deep bond is what differentiates their partnership and makes them successful, along with taking things “one day at a time” and “a lot of wine,” Dahling added.
“We’ve come to discover that what we have, not everybody has. So we work hard not to take that for granted and look at it more as how fortunate are we to not only be best friends but be able to see each other every day, and work together every day, face challenges together, enjoy rewards together. It takes a lot of work, but I think we’re so fortunate,” Dahling said.
People for Greens salads are currently available at Basha’s and AJ’s.