In this next Community Spotlight, I had the honor of interviewing Scarlett Leung, the Co-Founder and CEO of Sugarbreak, a Public Benefit Corporation dedicated to finding innovative solutions in blood sugar regulation. Throughout her career, Scarlett has pursued business opportunities that have addressed critical wellness needs in her community. In fact, Sugarbreak was in large part inspired by Scarlett’s desire to help her friend healthily navigate his diabetes. Before launching Sugarbreak in September 2020, Scarlett was a founding team member of Trellis Health, a women’s fertility clinic in New York City that emphasized each woman’s agency in planning her future family. In January 2017, she also co-founded Boita Bag, an eco-conscious accessory brand with the hope of encouraging more people to consider sustainability in their consumption. I learned so much from Scarlett as we discussed the depth and breadth of her interests and experiences. I’m particularly in awe of her mental health advocacy, entrepreneurial drive, and commitment to changing the world for the better. So, without further ado…
Scarlett, how do you prioritize wellness in your life?
Prioritizing wellness is a work in progress. Recently, I've been very intentional in shaping my life around my wellness needs. I incorporate wellness activities into my schedule so that I make time for them. By building these routines, I'm more likely to maintain healthy practices. One of my best wellness investments has been focusing on my mental health. Once I became a C-suite executive, because I knew that it would be lonely at the top, I really wanted to be in the best mental and emotional shape possible. Going to therapy has become as important to me as taking care of my skin. In order to maintain clear skin on my face, I have to keep up a regular facial routine. For me, mental health is similar. When I go to therapy once a week, it forces me to put myself first and talk about what I need for an hour. It’s been absolutely life-changing. I love telling people that I go to therapy because I want to set an example. Therapy is something that I believe everyone should think about trying. Overall, mental health needs to be destigmatized and people should feel like they can reach out for the help that they need.
As a founding team member of Trellis Health, you helped launch a women's fertility studio. What inspired you to get involved in this effort?
All of my business ventures have actually been prompted by solving a problem that was impacting someone I cared deeply about. For Trellis Health, I was encouraged by two of my very close friends who had really horrible heartbreaking experiences in their fertility journey. They pleaded with me, saying that I couldn’t let another woman grow through what they did. Because of my previous experience in customer service, I was able to take the lens of the customer first. This really helped me to appreciate the stakes of thinking through these decisions as a woman and to actively destigmatize fertility services. Providing great healthcare services and honoring a woman’s agency at every stage of the process are crucial, which is why being involved in Trellis Health was so important to me.
As a co-founder of Boita Bag, you are intentional in promoting sustainable and eco-conscious accessories. How much does sustainability shape your day-to-day wellness decisions?
Just as a quick fun fact, Boita is actually the last name of my friend Adam, who was also the person who was diagnosed with diabetes in his late 30s and was the inspiration behind Sugarbreak. I started Boita Bag because Adam, who made the decision to transition to vegan products, mentioned that he couldn’t find a vegan, eco-conscious, or sustainable bag he could take the work. He said I had to do something about this. Well, I did something about it.
Launching Boita Bag helped me be more cognizant of sustainability in multiple areas of my life. I am intentional in making sure all my skincare and makeup are clean and sustainable. Also, I make it easy for myself to recycle. I have a small bin in my bathroom that collects everything from my contact lenses to my skincare packaging. I send everything to TerraCycle, which is an amazing company that even recycles very small items. When I shop for clothing, I look for sustainable fabrics too.
On the Sugarbreak website, you share that you believe that Herbal Medicine can play a critical role in blood sugar management and health solutions at-large. Do you think herbal treatments will continue to permeate throughout the wellness industry?
I think they definitely will. For centuries, herbal treatments have played integral roles in wellness traditions across a lot of cultures. I've grown up with both Eastern and Western medicine, and they have a synergistic relationship. Herbal medicine seems to focus on optimizing your health baseline. Comparatively, Western medicine is more reactive in addressing specific symptoms. I think both are important. I’ve noticed that CBD has really paved the way to change people's minds in the Western world on the efficacy of using herbs. I'm sure that as more people try natural solutions and they see positive results, it's going to have a positive snowball effect and herbal remedies will be all the more prevalent. The clinicians that I work with are being more receptive to herbal treatments. Even a few years ago, they might not have been open to ideas like this because they were educated to use pharmaceutical drugs for helping with any sort of disease or sickness. Now, these doctors are hearing from their patients that they want to try something natural before they go on to pharmaceutical drugs. So, there’s certainly a trend for the growth of herbal treatments across the wellness industry at-large.