FOUNDER, CONSCIOUS COCONUT
ALMA MATER: University of Florida
AT THE OFFICE: After her “dream job” in investment banking turned out to be less than idyllic, Conte booked a one-way ticket to Bali. There, she was introduced to coconut oil, used both as an ingredient and as a skin treatment. Her life changed. “I started piecing together that my energy was higher than it had been in years, my face cleared up at 28, and my skin was significantly softer than it had been in the past.” When she returned to the United States, she founded Conscious Coconut, which produces organic, Fair Trade USA-certified, hand-pressed coconut oil. Conscious Coconut products are carried everywhere from small Tampa boutiques and spas to Whole Foods and hotel brands like the Four Seasons.
“More importantly, we’re carried by amazing local retailers like Armature Works, Buds, Blooms & Beyond, Sand Surf Co., Bella Prana Yoga, Spa Sudeva, the Epicurean Hotel’s Spa Evangeline and the Sandpearl Resort, to name folks that have supported us since day one,” Conte says.
GIVING BACK: Conscious Coconut sources its coconuts from the Southern Philippines and works with its farmers to ensure sustainable practices and clean waterways. Once the products arrive in the U.S., they are packaged and shipped at the MacDonald Training Center in Tampa, which employs adults with developmental disabilities. Finally, the company donates one meal to Feeding America for every product sold. “Since our launch six years ago, we have fed over 500,000 kids through our one-to-one platform,” Conte says.
WHEN I’M NOT IN THE OFFICE, YOU CAN FIND ME… Chasing two babies on North Beach, Clearwater, or in downward dog at any of the inspiring yoga studios across Tampa Bay.
WHEN I WAS A CHILD I WANTED TO BE… A business owner! Both of my parents are entrepreneurs, so it was natural for me to follow their hard-working and creative examples. They have always encouraged me to start something special even when it seemed far fetched to others. My husband’s family members are also entrepreneurs, so I’m deeply grateful for his constant support and encouragement.
DO YOU HAVE A MOTTO OR PHILOSOPHY YOU LIVE BY? I wrote this in my Berkeley senior yearbook, and I didn’t realize at the time how this would guide me towards becoming the person I am now. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Also, I live by the words, “One Love.” We are all one and doing the best we can despite how it seems from the outside. It’s not for us to judge, it’s for us to love. And, when you put love out to the universe, it’ll come back and topple you over.
WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED? I was encouraged by Judith Destasio, the CFO of MacDonald Training Center, as well as both my mother and mother-in-law, who are also local business owners, to honor and respect where we are every morning. I try not to set lofty goals. When you do, and you don’t meet them – you feel this sense of failure. Instead, I set small, achievable goals so that I feel a sense of accomplishment every day. I also try to not be hard on myself or create unnecessary stress. We’re selling coconut oil and helping people; this isn’t brain surgery! I quickly learned the success of Conscious Coconut is directly related to my personal health, happiness and self-love. I also recognize that I don’t want to rush our growth. I’m building a brand, feeding kids, making friends, and having a great time doing it.
THE BIGGEST LESSON I’VE LEARNED THIS YEAR WAS… To continue diversifying our retail footprint. Half of our sales come from hotels, resorts and small retail shops. Those are slowly picking back up after being shuttered all summer, so we’ve refocused on our relationship with Whole Foods. We have also strengthened our online presence due to the current retail landscape.
MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT TAMPA IS… Tampa is such a fun mix of a friendly urban environment and relaxing beach community. I love how casual it all is and that you can drive 20 minutes to find nooks and crannies on all sides of the bay, from Hyde Park to Madeira Beach, Tarpon Springs to North Tampa, Dunedin to Belleair. After college, I moved to DC, New York and throughout Southeast Asia. Everytime I come home, especially walking through Tampa International Airport (isn’t it perfect?!), I know this is where I belong.
MY SECRET TALENT IS… making people laugh (although my family would disagree!)
THE BEST THING I WATCHED THIS YEAR WAS… My husband and I loved watching Madam Secretary all summer! She’s such a positive role model, and we couldn’t get enough of learning about international diplomacy and alliances, but mostly that two parents with demanding jobs can put family values first. We’re also loving Bob Woodruff and his son Mack’s new series, Rogue Trip. It shows how countries like Colombia and Ethiopia coped during challenging times and are finding happiness in their new normal. It also gives us a big dose of wanderlust!
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM VACATION? Anywhere I’ve never been! Especially with my amazing husband, Andrew.