District Boss Interview: The Pineapple Collaborative

If you're familiar with the D.C. food scene, you've definitely heard of Pineapple Collaborative

When we think of the Pineapple ladies, we think of sisterhood and food. And really, what more could you want in life?! The co-founders of this community had a vision in 2015 to gather women around their shared passion of good. They provide inspiration through content & events where their celebration of women and food is brought to life. Below, Ariel and Atara share the details of how the revolutionary Pineapple Collaborative started, their hopes for the future and how they thrive as D.C. entrepreneurs. 

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1. Tell us about your company!

Pineapple is a collaborative community for all women who love food. We produce 3-4 events per month highlighting the work of incredible women in the food space and provide a space for women to connect with each other around food. We also produce digital content to celebrate a woman’s identity with food, because we believe that for many of us, our kitchen and the way we eat is such an expression of who we are. We have a series called “pine for pantry” where we take a peek into the kitchens of women we admire and explore the way they stock their fridges and pantries, eat and cook.

Above all, pineapple is a network of women who share a common love for food. We practice our philosophy, #pinefor - our idea that admiring a fellow woman, women-owned company, or women-made product is radical and it creates community and insight.

2. What led you to where you are today?

In 2015, Ariel moved back home to Washington, D.C. from New York City to help launch a seasonal vegetable taco restaurant called Chaia. Through Chaia, she began meeting other women who were also involved in food and realized many of them didn’t know one another though they were all moving in the same space. Inspired by women’s groups in NYC, she wanted to bring these women together at events that highlighted and celebrated them, creating a de facto women's D.C. food community. Our first event was a potluck dinner with 30 women, and from there pineapple has continued to convene women who are passionate about food, collecting business cards, and in the process, creating a really strong network.

We strive for women to collaborate instead of compete with one another. Over the years, we’ve seen that through our programming and content, we’ve turned the label “women-owned” into a value add for customers. We see so much opportunity in creating a cultural shift in purchasing behavior, and believe that if we are successful, we’ll see a revolution in how women support each other.

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3. What brings you the most joy while developing your company?

It brings us joy to give women who love food a collective voice. We certainly love working with female food celebrities, and successful entrepreneurs who inspire us, but it’s also incredibly powerful to meet women across the city who love food and are part of the food world in big and small ways alike.  

4. What’s the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur? The best part?

The most difficult part of being an entrepreneur is being comfortable with having difficult conversations nearly every day. It’s really just a part of the job, and so learning to tackle negotiations, critical feedback, complicated problems is crucial to success. And learning how to handle those challenges gracefully and  without taking them personally is even harder! But the discomfort zone is totally where the professional/personal growth happens. And through these difficult conversations, you learn empathy and begin to understand how to balance the needs of all of your partners and stakeholders.

The best part is being the owner of your own schedule. That is also incredibly hard at times, because we love the work and can easily justify staying up til midnight every night! However, we also hold self-care, family time, and friendships near and dear to our hearts and wouldn’t sacrifice those either.

We also love being the ultimate decisionmakers. We are the ones who call the shots about the direction of the company, and how we’re going to grow. It’s hard because we’re constantly running into difficult decisions, with no clear answer. It’s definitely helpful to remind ourselves that we may never have a “lightbulb moment” for any of these problems, but that the key is how we listen to our instincts and handle decisions confidently, while also being aware of how to measure success.

 
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5. How do you stay motivated and continue to grow, personally and professionally?

We do a lot of reading! We always share articles that we should read, podcasts to listen to, books to check out. We also never feel like we’ll be finished growing and learning. There’s no top of the mountain we’re trying to get to. We are constantly talking to women we respect to get their opinion on how we’re growing our business and providing value to our community. We’re always listening. Always seeking to understand the needs of our community as well.

6. What’s your nighttime routine?

Atara: I go to bed early! Never after 11PM. I also drink chamomile tea to calm me down, and try to read at least one chapter in a book before bed. I’ve made an effort to put my phone on airplane mode before bed, because when I see the blue light from the phone I get this weird pavlovian response. I feel anxious, like I need to tend to something. Not the most zen vibes, if you know what I mean!

Ariel: I’m kind of a night owl, so I try not to work up until I fall asleep but many times I do. In the ideal world, I spend relaxing time with my boyfriend and read before going to bed. I take magnesium powder sometimes if I feel anxious before falling asleep and it helps to calm my nerves.

7. What’s one piece of advice you would give to other entrepreneurs?

Atara: You’re not the only one that feels like an imposter! This is a super common emotion, and most entrepreneurs (including me!) feel it. What’s more important than knowing all of the answers, is knowing when to get help. Become an expert in knowing what you don’t know, and seek outside help and advice in those areas. You don’t need to know everything. You just need to be humble and self aware enough to surround yourself with people who are smarter than yourself.

Ariel: Three things on my mind right now: Know your numbers. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from someone you know really well or someone you cold call. Try to have fun!


Elise Crawford