You know those humans you feel genuinely privileged to meet in this lifetime? Tess Ulvesund is absolutely one of them for me. Not only is she a kick-ass female entrepreneur and founder of raw dessert business Wellness By Tess, she is also the most positive, happy and self-confident goddess gracing the streets.
I feel so privileged to have a space to able to share her with you and may her divine Swedish wisdom and love of ‘nakedness’ rub off on you.
Let’s kick off with a bit of a catch-up on how Wellness by Tess came to be the thriving raw snacks and dessert business it is today…
It all began as a small-scale hobby, where I cooked at home for family and friends. I’m pretty sure it was the Protein Truffles that made word spread, and after a while we rented a commercial kitchen space and began cooking for local cafes. The idea of being a full-time cook sure outweighed my corporate finance-job, so I took a leap of faith. The rest is history really. It’s a combination of hard work, a bit of luck, passion for wellness, having a good network of friends and being in the right place at the right time.
Now that we’ve heard your inspirational story, what kinds of things inspire you?
Nature, being outside, the ocean, music, crossfit, surfing, family, friends and art are the things that inspire me on a day-to-day basis. On a business level I draw inspiration from people who dare to change their lives if they’re unhappy, and have the courage to step out of the box to find or fight for their passion in life. It makes me want to work hard on my business, every day.
If you were to look through my social media-feed you would probably be surprised to find very few food-orientated photos there. My mantra is “stop competing and become the competition”. You would instead find a myriad of nature imagery, artists, and actors, authentic and good people who likes to make a difference in the world. Looking at those things simply makes me happy.
I am constantly inspired by your raw creations (especially those cake flavour combos), where do you draw your flavour inspiration from?
We are having so much fun creating new recipes. Being able to be creative like that must be one of the best parts of the business, no doubt. I usually play a bit of word-mash with the names, they get “Tesstified” as we call it. For example, Banoffee is Tessoffee, Tiramisu is Tessamisu, Nutella is Nutessa, Salt water Taffy is Salt Water Tessy and so forth. The inspiration comes from trying to make healthy versions of old-school recipes but I tell you what, some of the best recipes I’ve created have come to life by mistake. There is a lot of trial and error in the kitchen. Luckily sometimes the errors taste great too!
What foodie mentors inspire you?
People who choose real food and who get back to basics in terms of cooking are generally the ones who inspire me. It’s so important to be able to cook from your own kitchen. My friends and I have almost made a sport of not-dining-out. Not only is it cost-effective, it’s also social, therapeutic and great from a sustainability perspective. I went to a food-trade show recently and what dawned on me whilst being there was that there is so much “astronaut” food and meal-replacement options out there, that we have almost forgotten about good old-fashioned home cooking.
You have the most authentic and genuine body confidence and self appreciation of any woman I know (honestly). Where does that come from? And why do you think so many women struggle to feel the same about themselves?
My thoughts about myself and body-image generally, without a doubt, stem from what my parents taught me when I was growing up. They taught me not to be so vain and showed me to see beauty in people, not in bodies. We basically come from a naked family – not in the sense that we ran around in the nude all the time, but nakedness was never shameful or strange. If you had a chat to any of my flatmates today they’d probably say, “Yep, Tess sure is nude a lot!”.
My family also never owned a scale, and whilst my dad (who is also tall) told me to always walk with my back straight and my head held high, my mum never dieted and imprinted early that “looking healthy” comes in many shapes and forms. How your parents look is your genetic predisposition. You can either fight it, or accept and love yourself the way you are.
Boyfriends and lovers have been strong and confident characters who have embraced my vava-voom, and who have been very vocal about it. Actually, one once told me he thought I was perfect but only from the waist-up. Needless to say, I didn’t keep him around for very long.
There is a lot of pressure to fit into a mould these days, both for men and women. We are so exposed to media and marketing telling us to look and feel a certain way. Unless you have a good head on your shoulders, it’s almost impossible to not get affected by that. Brands and personalities with big reach have to take responsibility for what they put out there. It is accessible to thousands of people who may not be able to filter some of the images. At the end of the day, it’s not rocket science, owners of busy social media accounts are also mainly driven by ‘likes’ and self-gratification which in the end is quite sad and stems from low self-esteem.
I want to make sure that I am a good role model, and that I pass on a message to my nieces and my own kids, when I have them, saying ‘You’re beautiful the way you are, you don’t have to try so hard”.
Mindful eating plays an integral part in The Inspired Table in what ways do you practice mindfulness?
Mindful eating for me means only consuminallyg foods that are truly nourishing. It’s the basic idea that food is fuel, and your body is your most precious vehicle. I practice mindful eating by eating foods as close to their natural state as possible. Ethically, I’d love to be vegan, but unfortunately it doesn’t work for my body. I do however only buy free-range meats, organic as often as I can – and also make sure it’s locally grown.
There are different ways of interpreting mindfulness. For me it means being in the present here and now – it’s something I think about every day. It’s the ability to stop at any given moment and see the beauty in everyday life. It may be consciously observing objects or people that you wouldn’t normally notice. It may be stopping for a minute and listening for sounds that you usually don’t hear because of generic background noise. Life can be overwhelming and throw you curveballs at times, that’s when it’s important to be able to stop and say “Hold up for a minute, this is now, this is all I have to worry about. Everything else will be okay”.
If you could only pass on one piece of advice for optimal health and happiness, what would it be?
Only one? But I’ve got so many. Jokes aside, a healthy mind and a healthy body go hand-in-hand.
Firstly, learn to love yourself. It’s the most important thing. Read up about self-love, and do lots of it. You deserve it. There is only one of you, and you’re unique, a limited edition.
Secondly, be a good person. If you’re feeling low, do something nice for someone else. Random acts of kindness where you expect nothing in return are the best ones. The joy, love and gratification you receive back from a friend or a stranger far outweighs the cost and effort of the actual task at hand.
Thirdly, don’t obsess about things – even being too healthy is unhealthy, if you know what I mean. Any obsession is a disorder. Just use your common sense and I promise you will be alright.
Can you name three people that inspire you?
I am going to keep this close to home, and say my friend Phoebe. She is the most positive, generous, level-headed and kind-hearted person that I know. She gives so much of herself to others, expecting absolutely nothing in return. Seeing that and being around her is so refreshing.
My mum and dad. They left the snowy slopes of Sweden for the sunny shores of Australia to be close to my sister and I. I mean, how am I ever going to beat that?
What’s your favourite inspirational quote?
“The meaning of life is to find your gift and the purpose of life is for you to share it” – Pablo Picasso
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