TNTP’s Neontrepeneur series is back! This time, I interview Sylwia Wiesenberg, the kick-ass creator of Tonique Fitness and, most recently, Dope Naturally, a line of all-natural ingestible beauty powders that will make your skin glow and your energy levels soar! I was lucky to meet Sylwia at a recent event to promote her powerful new products and I immediately fell in love with her vibrant spirit. (It also didn’t hurt that she shares my love for pom poms. Within minutes of being introduced to her, she was already giving me ideas for pom pom-adorned baby furniture!)
Sylwia is a total girlboss through and through. She worked her way out of Poland by way of Australia (!!) to obtain a dual degree from Notre Dame…an education she funded for herself with a side hustle. NBD. Sylwia then went on to land jobs at high-powered companies before deciding it was time to pursue her own dreams in the fitness and wellness space. Her drive and call-to-action is why I’m so thrilled to introduce Sylwia Wiesenberg at this month’s Neontrepreneur. I hope you find her story as inspiring as I do!
Have you always had an entrepreneurial spirit? If so, can you share any early entrepreneurial endeavors?
I love risk. I believe that taking risks took me on many journeys since I was a little girl. My first recollection of my entrepreneurial spirit actually began in Poland where I was born. I would make small bouquets from flowers that I collected on fields. I was selling them to have enough to go get ice cream. Later in life, I left to study English in Australia at the age of 16 years old and I never came back. With the help of the most amazing Australian family, I finished my high school and college education. I graduated from Notre Dame University with a double major in Business Communication and Italian.
Throughout my years of study, I had no money for anything let alone fashion and beauty products, which I always loved so much. When I travelled to Asia, I noticed all the possibilities to buy cheap fashion and sell it for a higher price. Where I came from in Poland, clothes were scarce, especially nice clothing. I decided to bring clothes and accessories and sell them with profit. I made enough money to pay for my college education while at the same time getting to enjoy fashion!
After finishing my studies, I moved to London in the Fall. I arrived to South Kensington with one suitcase full of summer clothing. I slept on the mattress I bought for 30 pounds and shared bathroom with random people – but I didn’t give up. I had to take that risk for only a short time! I was super young and hungry for success. I wanted to achieve my goals and I did. I got a job in one of the world’s top advertising agencies and later on ended up working in finance for one of the leading investment banks.
When I moved to NYC, I quit my financial job after one week. This was a big risk, but I decided to devote my life to what I love to do the most fitness and wellness. I launched Tonique Fitness and shortly after I began working on expanding my knowledge on food and nutrition. I would test foods I made by myself, on myself and with my family and friends.
I love the spirit of entrepreneurship, and the adventure it takes you on, you learn about people and businesses. Most importantly, you learn the most about yourself, your dreams and your approach to life!
What drove you to launch Dope Naturally? How did you know it was “the right time” (if there is such a thing)?
Passion and dreams. I believe that with passion, dreams happen. You need to dream, without dreams we grow up and become boring. My passion for food and fitness has no limits. I live, I breath and I cannot imagine my life without them. I have not only passion but was also gifted to create. I combined these two powers and decided to contribute to others lives on a significant level.
I started with TONIQUE to reach women and men whose fitness and movement was a must for ageless beauty. This helps develop a strong body and mind. I mastered TONIQUE for years before I released its first DVD then followed by links and downloads. There are over 40 in my library ranging from 15 minutes to 4-hour long workouts.
I also was involved in food and wine when studying wine and spirits at WSET. I passed all my exams to reach a Master level, but I never ended up finishing. It came to the point where I needed to make a decision between fitness and feeling great or great wine and having a headache with no energy for TONIQUE. I chose Tonique and I chose to make food, smoothies and desserts for others – feeding them and seeing its effect on their energy, body and mood – and it worked!
I realized I wanted to share with more people to really make a significant impact on women’s wellness and beauty through food, superfoods and purity of food. Often when asked what I do to feel and look this way I answered, “Oh I DOPE, I dope naturally.” People thought I took drugs but my biggest drug that energizes me is food and fitness combined!
You have to feel it if this is the right time…and when the right time comes, we must not rush it. We must savor the life and enjoy its natural tempo.
What inspires you in regards to your business?
People and places. I can never get enough of exploring and discovering the new and unknown. I don’t mind failures either – I view them in fact in positive light – perfect way to learn to be better.
Throughout this time, my passion was always with cooking, searching for new superfoods or super ingredients when traveling or at local markets and farms! I believe that eating the right ingredients can significantly improve performance and add value to your beauty routine. I believe in ageless beauty supported by eating beyond clean but eating right, including selected superfoods that improve our skin tone and quality. Fitness and food come always first!
Was there a moment when you felt like you’d “made it?” Or at least that you were truly onto something?
I don’t think I will ever feel this way. I am never satisfied and I mean that in the best way possible. I want to learn more, do more and really contribute to society. I really enjoy each job I do and I’m really loving it.
What are the best and hardest parts about owning your own business?
You never sleep, but you dream more. You own it! It is yours just like a baby, however, owning your own business, especially a startup requires you to do everything and be everyone…so forget the title founder. You are your own assistant and your own boss – you have to do it all and learn it all! YOU MUST NOT have an ego. Having an ego is the worst when it comes to business, no matter how high your status is.
When you own a business, you are required to have 200% commitment, focus and hard work. There are no days off and no minutes that you don’t think about the next brilliant idea or additional product to your line. It becomes an obsession.
To what do you attribute your success thus far?
Hard work, loyalty and honesty. I am stubborn and I don’t give up easily. I don’t listen to noise – people who don’t believe in you – their opinions are only noise that you must turn off! I learned how to do this from my kids with their selective hearing- if they want to hear something they do, otherwise it comes in one ear and out the other.
What have been your most successful marketing outlets/endeavors/strategies?
Eat Dope. Look Dope. Live Dope. It is a brilliant summery to great life.
Which entrepreneurs and/or brands do you look up to?
Tesla is one of them. I mostly look up to various artists and their struggles before their success came. I struggled as much as them by creating products to fulfill other feelings/ emotions and make them feel good! Really good! It is the biggest satisfaction when someone is listening to your music, reading your book, wearing your designs or eating or drinking DOPE Naturally.
What is your dream project?
I am right now living my dream project. However, creating opportunities for young girls around the world and giving them the opportunity to get educated and motivating them to start up their own companies. Without others taking advantage of them! Girls who have dreams and want to live them! To me, education always comes first!
On a more personal self-centered level, I want to sail around the world and film TONIQUE workouts in places that most will never be able to see. I love bringing places and cultures closer together!
Where do you see your business in 3-5 years?
I am all for education, and for the past year I have been involved with Jean-Georges’ Food Dreams Foundation that educates future chefs and gives them the opportunity to follow their dreams and passion. The Foundation supports young chefs and gives them a perfect kick start with proper education. I hope that I will be able to contribute much more to the foundation and created more opportunities for women chefs!
There will be more DOPE Naturally for everyone. Superfood powders and other products that will change how we think about ingestible beauty and wellness. At the end of October, I am launching a new flavor called Atomic Beauty which will be the first plant-based protein powder to use Watermelon Seed Powder. This product will also use Fluvic Acid which promotes cell rejuvenation, glowing skin and healthy hair, increased absorption of nutrients and faster recovery from a workout.
Based on your experience, what advice would you offer young, female entrepreneurs?
Don’t fear your own dreams! When you do something do it because you love it, you are passionate about it and it provides you with satisfaction. Especially when we are young, you still have time to go back to a 9-5 job. Be strong and listen to criticism, but only people you look up to and people who inspire you.
Favorite creative thing to do in your spare time?
I wish I had one. I love to paint and create movement. I love photography (especially arranging sets) and cooking.
If you could be a genre of music, what would it be?
Jazz – complex and deep
Three places you must visit in your lifetime?
Australia – I lived there but everyone should visit Australia. The others would be Antarctica and Space. Space is one of my biggest destination dreams I wish I had 200k but for that much I can stay on The Planet Earth and enjoy its beauty so 3rd you must visit Africa.
Describe your home in three words?
Place to escape
Next big (or most fun!) purchase?
Ticket to Brazil
Sweet or savory?
I am an ice cream girl
Three places (restaurants, stores, experiences, etc.) you’d recommend to a friend visiting your city?
There are so many amazing restaurants in NYC but my fav is ABCV, King and The Spotted Pig. Soho for shopping. Whitney Museum is one of my favorite places to escape – art meets the beauty of the city surroundings. At night, Met Ballet or Comedy Cellar. Hamptons for weekend getaway–the beaches are spectacular!
Thank you thank you to Sylwia Wiesenberg for sharing your story and to my friends over at TL Communications for coordinating this interview!
Have questions for Sylwia? Leave them in the comments below!
peace, love & neon,
photos c/o Sylwia Wiesenberg/Dope Naturally and The Neon Tea Party