Angela Zeng is not the typical entrepreneur in the beverage industry. Her passion for natural healing is rooted in her strong belief in traditional Chinese medicine and herbal sciences. After completing her undergraduate degree in biochemistry, Zeng moved to the United States where she completed her Ph.D. in Pathology, her MBA degree from Washington University in St. Louis and a post-doctoral fellowship at Northwestern University. Her research topics ranged from cardiovascular diseases to cancer. In 2017, Angela combined her knowledge in both herbal and modern medical science and launched Karuna Beverage, now known as Karviva. Her delicious line of award-winning drinks include whole plant-based prebiotic smoothies, antioxidant juices, and sports recovery juice blends.
Tell us about your life before the venture/ leading up to your venture?
I am a researcher and entrepreneur with a wide range of interests with some challenging roles: a medical researcher, a BD and marketing strategist in pharmaceutical industry, a B2B trading business owner, and life-long practitioner of herbal medical science and learner.
Tell us something about your organization. What is it about and how is it helpful for people?
Karviva is built upon our strong belief in Food Is Better Medicine with a mission to empower people to make better choices to live healthier and happier lives. My team likes to say that we do so through my upbeat attitude and my strong mind for business and perpetual desire to listen to the customers. Karviva serves to continue to evolve and innovate to meet their needs and desires.
Karviva means compassion leads to a long life, and I believe it is extremely important to show compassion even during difficult times. We work closely with the communities and consumers we serve and as a result, we have gained strong support from them.
What has been the response of the consumers towards your venture?
I have been recognized by the Women’s Business Development Center, a 501c(3) nationally recognized leader in the field of women’s economic development and I was named one of St. Louis Small Business Monthly’s 2021 “Wonder Women,” an annual feature highlighting some of the area’s top women who are making a difference in the community. I have also received accolades from the St. Louis Business Journal as a 2020 Diverse Business Leader and 2022 Most Influential Business Women, in addition to an honor declared by the Lieutenant Governor of Missouri in March 2021 and 2021 Synergy Award Gold by USPAACC.
My strong passion for natural healing is rooted in my life-long belief in herbal science and profound experience in medical research, which was the focus of a feature produced by the Higher Education Channel in 2021 which won a 2021 Mid-America Emmy Award in the Business/Consumer Category. I have also been featured on the national program “Food is Love” on PBS.
How has your life changed because of your venture?
Since I started Karviva Wellness, I have made some major adjustments to my life including giving up a couple of hobbies such as hot yoga practice and dance. I also learned to find creative ways to spend time with my teenage daughter and son and pushed them hard to become independent. I have been blessed to have strong support from my family, staff and customers. For example, my husband has allocated a lot more time to take our children to their swimming training and other activities so that I can spend more time in business. This in turn made our family bonding stronger.
Give a motivational message for the audience/women who are reading this.
In the CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) market, to compete with competitors who are backed by powerful legacy brands is never easy, the war on the shelves can be fierce and ruthless; sometimes it’s not the quality that wins shelf space but rather the resources behind, which can create strong hurdles for young emerging brands to overcome. My advice for all my fellow women business owners is “Be a good learner and listener, work hard and believe in yourself and those you serve.” A wise lady I met at an online art shop once told me “When God gives a lemon, it is up to you to make it into a tasty lemonade or complain about its sourness and bitterness.” When you change your attitude, you change your altitude.