By Gina Cavallo, Co-Founder
For several years before launching EKG Project, our New York-based Paleo baking company, Emily and I knew we were destined to work together. In fact, we came up with the name (a combination of initials) 2 years before the actual company was formed. We had a name, a passion for health and fitness, and the desire to help others together. All we needed was a mission.
The idea behind EKG Project was finally born one cold, New York Saturday morning, walking with my bestie (Emily!) to grab a much-needed cup of Joe on our way to SoulCycle. The owner of the shoppe (the since closed PressTea) struck up a conversation around Paleo living and the need for more access to clean, organic foods — a chat that lit the fire to form the very company we have today.
Both of us grew up with the notion that while food equals love, dessert (particularly the extra unhealthy, decadent ones) equals unconditional amore. So, it was an easy fit to launch with Paleo pastries. Just like our families, we've heard countless people say that the reason they don't eat healthy foods (aka Paleo) is because it tastes like cardboard. Well, we took on that challenge, and are out to prove that you don't have to give up taste to take on health. In fact, you don't even have to give up your greatest indulgences to eat clean. EKG Project's Paleo donuts, cupcakes, and cookies are not only delicious (and believe us, we've tested them on many tough anti-Paleo critics), but they're free from processed, genetically-modified, toxic ingredients. To be more specific, they're mostly organic/non-GMO, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, and soy-free, and some are even nut-free! Whether you're eating "free-from" foods because of medical concerns, personal preference, or merely chance, with ingredients like almond flour, coconut oil, honey, and applesauce, our customers can make educated choices about what they eat. (Not only that, but our own families can now show the love with treats that are just as scrumptious, without all the toxins - and that's a Thanksgiving dessert table we can truly enjoy!)
To experience the dynamic of our duo is an event in itself. Both of us have vastly different backgrounds: Emily grew up in Mississippi, and I am a through-and-through New Yorker with family ties in the Bronx. If you are around us often enough, you will commonly hear the other say, “What?” a number of times, as our inherent accents make for a comedy of errors and provide entertainment for all around to hear. Professionally speaking we’re like two halves of a really well-rounded individual — Emily’s background is in creative, operations, and entrepreneurship, and mine is in sales and marketing. While Emily cringes at a sell, I couldn't draw a line with pen and ruler.
Since launching EKG Project over one year ago, we've learned a great deal about ourselves as both friends and entrepreneurs. For one, we found out that It’s tough to work with your best friend, especially when you need to be serious and crank out the work. It’s still the one person you just want to kick it with, and it's sometimes all too tempting to turn a late night marketing meeting into The Good Wife marathon. Beyond that, working with your bestie will garner the most honest feedback you will ever receive as a professional. It is the person who will push you the hardest to be better because they know your true capacity. Though it can be testing at times, it has made us stronger, which we both appreciate and wouldn't trade for the world.
Our most important commonality lies not in our shared passions for fitness and wellness, but in our strong desire to make a real, positive difference in NYC and the world. We firmly believe that EKG Project has to be more than just pastries, Instagram posts, and press. That's why we are constantly making sure that everything we do contributes to our original mission of creating change. So. we volunteer together regularly at Father’s Heart Ministries Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry in the East Village on Saturday mornings, even using our "fitness for good" to help with some of the more physically taxing chores. We've also set up our #BuyToGive online store, where customers can purchase super discounted treats for donation and full resale at Alphabet Scoop, a local program that keeps kids off the streets and teaches them job and life skills. Also, every quarter, EKG Project will donate a percentage of profits to benefit an organization we both feel helps move the needle in truly making a difference in this world. Our first partner is the one closest to our hearts — The Father’s Heart Ministries.
Initially, it may not be huge donations, but we plan on working hard to increase our profits so we can give more to the community over time in step with our business growth. Each Paleo donut, cookie, and cupcake purchased is not just a healthier way to indulge, but it’s a way to make a difference with our customers.
EKG Project is truly a team effort. Two of us wear all the hats, from creative director to publicist to philanthropist, and at the end of the day it's worth all the time, effort, and money we've invested because we get to build something together that we love — a company that puts people above profits. Plus, I get to hang with my best friend all day (in yoga pants), and hey maybe even make a buck or two!
A native New Yorker and Division One collegiate athlete, Gina Cavallo has built her career in digital strategy and online buying, and in August of 2015, Gina accepted the Senior Director role of East Coast Sales at Samba TV, a cutting edge Smart TV apps publishing and advertising company. Melding her passions for health, fitness, and sales at Samba TV, Gina has established herself as the “fit sales rep” within the New York advertising community. Most early mornings Gina is sweat-working with clients in one (sometimes two!) of many local boutique fitness studios, and most evenings she is relationship building over organic wine tastings, healthy cooking classes, and exhilarating experiences, such as rock climbing. Her real-world antics are documented digitally via #SambaSweats, which is her calling card amongst the ad world and the fitness community. In addition to her booming career, Gina is passionate about health and fitness, often training with some of the world’s best athletes, as well as modeling for several fitness and wellness websites. Combining her knowledge, experience, and passions for health, fitness, sales, and community, Gina is excited to launch EKG Project with Emily and Natalie. “Being able to make such a positive difference not only in New York, but eventually nationwide, is a dream come true. When you feel better and look better, everything is better. I can’t wait to help everyone find the champion within.”
Born and raised in Mississippi, statistically the most obese state in the US, Emily Farley’s interest in health and fitness began at a very young age. While continuously active in sports, several early surgeries and chronic health issues required a more restrictive diet than the rest of her family and friends. Though this seemed like quite the unfair nuisance at the time, Emily is incredibly grateful for the lifetime of healthy eating. Holding dual degrees in International Business (emphasis: International Marketing) and French, Emily graduated with honors from Mississippi State University in 2006, and immediately moved north to conquer NYC. Following a year stint in Nashville in 2012, she finally returned to start South By North, LLC – a health and fitness venture – with her best friend, Gina Cavallo. While vigorously studying fitness and nutrition, Emily discovered Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint Lifestyle, which she had been unknowingly living for years. Learning all she could, Emily searched for any way to apply this passion to business. Then she and Gina met George Kuan, and the EKG Project was born. Emily is excited to bring her deepest passions of health, fitness, and helping others to the world. “I’ve put my heart and soul into EKG Project. I dream of bringing truly healthy, affordable food to those who have limited to no access, including my family in Mississippi, New Mexico, and Ohio. This lifestyle has changed everything about me for the better, and I cannot wait to share the love with everyone on this beautiful planet!”