She's Empowered Spotlight: Morgan Lerner of GoNanas
We're so excited to be highlighting the Chief Banana Bread Officer herself: Morgan Lerner of GoNanas! Learn more about Morgan below!
Tell us a little about you!
Hi hi! I’m from Houston, TX and went to school at University of Michigan where I met my best friend and business partner today - Annie Slabotsky! We lived in Chicago together where we started to scale GoNanas and then I moved to Portland, OR to be with my partner and represent the West Coast, so I’ve really been all over! My mom owned a catering company so I’ve always been passionate about food and baking since a young age.
What was it like starting GoNanas? Tell us about your professional journey.
It was wild! I went to college thinking I would be pre-med, but it turned out, after spending most of my time with the food club on campus, that I was interested in people and organizations, specifically in the food industry. Annie was also in that club and in that first year of college, we started GoNanas out of a lack of healthy baked good options on campus. We spent 3 years combining familial banana bread recipes with an allergen free twist, to make the best banana bread in the game. After selling our banana bread to foodservice, we decided to pivot and launch at-home mixes during the COVID-19 pandemic in the summer of 2020, when banana bread was really blowing up. The mixes quickly went viral on social media and soon after quit our jobs to focus on the business full-time. I never thought it’d be my full time job, so to be here is again, WILD!
How do you stay motivated?
I love this question, because just because it’s my company doesn’t mean it’s always easy to stay motivated, especially when there’s so much work to be done. But I do it by staying incredibly close to my purpose and mission. For me, that’s in community building, storytelling, leading my team, and innovating. I love sharing our story on social and connecting with our consumers and ambassadors nationwide. I love inspiring our team on this journey together and bringing truly innovative products to market in new ways, that bring joy to our consumers.
Do you have any advice for someone who is interested in becoming an entrepreneur?
Yes! Notice what makes you light up, whether you think it’s career related or not. As long as you stay curious and follow those passions, you’ll end up doing something that gets you in the “entrepreneurial spirit.” I was the girl that took every flyer at the college fair and that led me to following my passion for food, growing organizations, and inspiring others. It’s how I met my business partner and ended up baking one day and making the first ever loaf of GoNanas. It’s not always linear, so I think following your passions is the essential first step.
What are your favorite ways to #spreadgood in your community?
I think sharing the realities of our day to day, rather than just the highlight reel, is really important to me. It shows the humanness behind our entrepreneurial journey to hopefully show and inspire others that they can do the same. Also a big part of our growing mission is to reduce food waste because you use spotty bananas to make our mix that would otherwise go to waste. You’ll find us next to the bananas in a lot of our stores for just this reason.
Who is one person who inspires you and why?
Whitney Wolfe Herd, CEO of Bumble because of how bold she is. She co-founded Tinder, left the company, sued over sexual harassment. Fueled by the injustice, she co-founded Bumble where women make the first move. In another leap of faith, she took the company public and became the youngest female self-made billionaire. As a young girl, I doubted my capabilities but over time grew confidence to chase after my dreams and use my self doubt as fuel. Whitney is an inspiration for me to continue to be bold and believe in myself.
How do you work to stay centered and practice self-care in your busy day-to-day reality?
This is always a work in practice, but I’ve been building more of this into my mornings. Typically that involves some combination of working out, making my morning matcha, stretching and meditating or journaling. I take breaks as I need to re-center myself. My body also SPEAKS to me, so If i’m overdoing it, I sometimes just close my laptop for the day. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m always working on this area because as a sensitive yet hardworking person, it can be challenging to know when to stop. I’d like to think i’m good at compartmentalizing work from my regular life, so that’s been crucial for me!
What do you like to do for fun, when you aren't making banana bread?!
I love to do pilates, dance, cook, travel and lately I’ve been into painting! I also LOVE a good romantic or mystery book.
What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy GoNanas & Ground Up?