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Exploring Life & Business with Krissy Ostermiller of YAYE Organics

Today we’d like to introduce you to Krissy Ostermiller. 

Hi Krissy, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Mental illness is very prevalent in my family, but using food as medicine to promote strong mental and physical health in myself, my family and my community has been a longtime mission of mine. At age 14, I started eating plant-based and am constantly researching new ways to continue my wellness journey. My professional background primarily includes sustainability, marketing, and advertising; however, food has always been my passion. I designed YAYE Organics to help make clean, plant-based eating more accessible and appealing to all. 

Even in Colorado, I’ve always struggled to find restaurants whose mission and values align with my own. Most “health” cafes buy their nut milks and vegan cheeses (which are loaded with additives, even if they’re organic) from bigger distributors, so I started making my own. After realizing that it’s too cumbersome for most people to do the same, I decided to start YAYE to give others access to convenient, high-quality, scratch-made organic meals. 

My timing wasn’t ideal, however. I started the company as a brick-and-mortar cafe just weeks before the pandemic started. I had to quickly pivot to a meal delivery service and re-build my company from the ground up. There’s been a lot of trial error, but also a lot of growth. Starting a business during a pandemic has been incredibly challenging, but it’s been unbelievably rewarding to help people heal from the inside out during some of the most difficult times. We have some customers who enjoy our ready-to-eat meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner 6 days a week and hearing that “we’ve changed their lives” is truly what keeps us going. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My life has been one big obstacle course, but being resilient and believing that I’m capable of overcoming anything has made me strong, calm, and grateful. I had a difficult childhood including many addictions and deaths in my family, but have learned a lot about myself through those circumstances. 

Opening my first business (YAYE as a brick-and-mortar cafe) on February 1, 2020, and making the difficult decision to close the business weeks later as a result of the pandemic was devastating, but the silver lining is that it forced me to launch my meal delivery business, which is something I’d always wanted to do (I was just hoping to build a brand following first). We continue to experience the effects of supply-chain and labor shortages every single week – but at this point, I know that if my team and I can get through the pandemic, we can get through anything. The challenges have truly only made us stronger. 

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
We harness the power of nature’s oldest medicine (plants) and deliver the most delicious, convenient, satisfying, clean, organic meals to doorsteps throughout Colorado. YAYE (pronounced “ya-yay”) stands for “You Are what You Eat” and “You Are Your Energy”, which serves as a reminder that all of the information we take in – via food (the way that nature speaks directly to our bodies), content (news, TV, etc.) and relationships (the people we surround ourselves with) – affects how we think and therefore who we are. At the end of the day, we are products of our environment, but the beautiful thing is that we have a lot of control over our environments. 

Processed foods with artificial ingredients form the foundation of the Standard American Diet, and although I believe we’re headed in the right direction, there are still many myths surrounding plant-based lifestyles (for example, “not as flavorful” or “I won’t receive all of the nutrients I need”), but YAYE exists to debunk those myths and provide an easy solution for people to truly eat healthy. YAYE meals are crafted using all organic, plant-based ingredients free from gluten, refined sugars, and seed-based oils; but equally important: our meals are incredibly creative, delicious, and satisfying – and all you have to do is open the container and enjoy. 

We make every sauce, dressing, bread, nut mylk, and cheese from scratch, and some of our favorite menu items include our plant-powered queso, which appears in some of our Mexican food dishes, as well as our veggie layered lasagna with almond “ricotta” and GF honey oat bread with garlic-coconut butter (my personal favorite). We think eating should be fun and informative, so you’ll notice that many of our menu items are fun plays on words such as the Upbeet Rawvioli (raw beet and pumpkin seed “ricotta” ravioli over arugula + dark cherry salad w/ sherry vinaigrette), Mean Mungin’ (orange + mung bean salad w/ poached figs, nori cashews + Asian citrus dressing) and the Keep Calm and Curry On (broccoli, chickpea + golden raisin salad w/ sweet curry dressing). 

To us, information is power. Continuous learning is at the forefront of everything we do, so we provide QR codes on all of our meals that give you a “Knowledge Drop” about a health benefit or history tidbit about a key ingredient in the meal. Our goal is to improve your quality of life through healthier food but to also make eating healthy fun and convenient so it doesn’t feel like a chore. Our promise is: No chemicals. 100% whole ingredients. 100% delicious. Every single fruit, vegetable, herb, nut, and seed has powerful health benefits, tastes amazing, and most importantly – makes you feel good. 

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
So many people have helped YAYE and me get to where we are today. My grandparents who raised me, my sister, aunts, and other family members who have always supported me, my husband who is an entrepreneur himself and always encourages me to shoot for the moon, friends, YAYE’s Head Chef, Jessica Chambers, who took a leap of faith to join me in building our culinary program, YAYE’s Customer Experience Manager, Susy Jaramillo, who’s been my right-hand-woman since Day 1, the entire YAYE team, and Breakthrough Colorado – a Denver-based non-profit that I have the pleasure of sitting on the Board of Directors. Breakthrough’s mission is to transform the lives of currently and formerly incarcerated individuals through in-facility career education programs, community engagement, reentry support, a fair opportunity hiring program, and criminal justice advocacy initiatives. Volunteering with Breakthrough and mentoring our program participants as they develop business plans and pitch their entrepreneurial ideas very much inspired me to start my own business. 

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