WE Feature: Female Inspiration Of The Month - February

We are so excited to launch our Female Inspiration of the Month series! In light of today (Valentine's Day), we think this would be a great opportunity for us to thank one of our biggest supporters from the very beginning (before this non-profit formed)!

If you're not familiar with the history of WE of Hudson County, our founder formed this non-profit after hosting a successful independent networking event back in September 2018 at Bwe Kafe. Shaka Bowl was one of the sponsors for the event and Kiersten and Krista have been supporting our initiatives ever since!

For February's Female Inspiration of the Month, we are so excited to be featuring Kiersten and Krista Gormeley!

Kiersten's responses will be initialed as KI and Krista's responses will be initialed as KR

1. Tell me about yourself and your business.

KI: Hey! My name is Kiersten Gormeley, I’m the Founder, Owner and  Executive Chef of Shaka Bowl in Hoboken,NJ! I’m 26 years old living in Jersey City with my dog Luna. I enjoy swimming, yoga, running, reading and writing on my spare time as well a lot of time with my family and friends. Shaka Bowl has been a huge part of my life for the past three years. I’ve been in the culinary industry going on 14 years. I graduated from Ramapo College of NJ with a bachelors degree in communications. After much thought of not attending culinary school after I left my original school Clemson University my freshman year of college to swim, I stayed at Ramapo and continued to work my way thru college becoming more invested in my career and culinary skills. 

KR: My name is Krista Gormeley and I am the co-founder of Shaka Bowl alongside my sister Kiersten Gormeley. I’m 25 years old living in Hoboken with my boyfriend Zachariah. I started Shaka Bowl the fall after I graduated from college at 22 years old. I graduated with a major in communications and a concentration in global media with a minor in sociology. Before Shaka Bowl, I worked in a café similar to Shaka Bowl {completely different food, but a counter like style, which I adored}, I worked for Sharp Electronics while they were rebranding from selling TV’s to selling small home appliances, and I also worked for a small digital marketing firm managing multiple social accounts for huge brands. I’m an avid runner, yogie, hiker, golfer, blogger / writer, photo collag-er, and DIY-er, I am the head manager of operations between both locations. That includes but does not limit {all marketing, management, team training, inventory, graphic designs, content, etc.}, My brother Eric is also our managing partner and he handles our numbers and helps us stay in line with our quotas [Kiersten & I are both terrible at math, so…you can laugh]. I’ve played golf for the majority of my life, amongst many other hobbies. I believe in exercising daily, not only for the body, but more importantly for the mind. My family means everything to me and everyday with them here is a great day to be alive—in my opinion if I have nothing, as long as I have my family I have absolutely everything.

My passion for a healthy lifestyle far exceeds Shaka Bowl. I live for it- it’s my life’s mission to help teach people the benefits of eating well, and eating strong, nutrient dense foods, that look and taste good but do not force you to sacrifice flavor. A healthy lifestyle isn’t a sacrifice, it’s a gift, and people should treat it like that. They should know how easy, and simple it is to eat well and live even better. We are what we eat, and I truly think the way to a healthy soul is a healthy diet, and a good activity regime.

2. What makes your business unique? We know Shaka Bowl is special - but tell us why in your own words.

KI: My sister, Krista Gormeley and I, believe in inspiring and creating a new healthy way to live not by limiting but by incorporating a balanced way of life. Our mission after living in Hawaii for school back in 2014, was to inspire generations and the youth to choose health. After I survived cancer in 2015 it was clear to me just how important a plant based yet indulgent, moderate and balanced lifestyle was. My sister and I agreed to take our experience with Hawaii and cancer and share it with not only our family and friends but what we hope the world. Being very young entrepreneurs and having two restaurants in two years, myself an Executive Chef, solely taught on my experience from other amazing individuals in my field and my sister General Manager with a background in Marketing, we can honestly say we don’t do this for the money but to inspire young or old, big or little, diverse humans of all backgrounds, shapes and sizes to choose a happy, healthy, lifestyle which is what Shaka brings to our customers. We want that Aloha spirit and way of life to not only reside in Hawaii but everywhere. Being apart of WE of Hudson County helps us obtain this dream of being able to help those in need of a smile, a health boost and new way to perceive life! We hope to take this next step with Out business, the culinary world, and overall world health.

KR: I think Shaka Bowl is unique in many ways. Not because it sells acai, and poke, but because Shaka Bowl stands for more than just good food. It stands for a good life. For living well, for getting outside and breathing fresh air. For eating simple, fresh, honest food. Everything we prepare is house-made, and innovative. And when we came to Hoboken, and to New Jersey, we were the first of our kind, and we’re constantly innovating and adapting to suit the needs of our customers and the way the world is moving and evolving.

3. Could you describe a day in your life? What does your day-to-day operation look like? 

KI: My day to day varies depending where I’m needed as well as Krista. My daily operations include but are not limited, spending a good amount of time at both my store locations, 720 Monroe Street and 110 Washington Street, Hoboken. I answer ALOT of emails and take on a lot of meetings. 

Also, there’s a lot that goes into running a business especially a restaurant that no one sees. Our restaurant is opened 13 hours of a 24 hour day, 7 days a week. I’m on CALL 24/7. In a nut shell,  I go to various stores on the daily basis, operations with staff, scheduling, restaurant operations, sales, food costs, recipe building, cooking/prepping, handling my inventory and ordering food making sure both restaurants have what they need at all times, recipe development, etc etc etc. the list goes on and on!!!!! I don’t have enough time in the day to get done everything I’d hope too.

KR: I get this question a lot. A lot of people I feel undermine the day-to-day of an entrepreneur, a word I’m not crazy about, so for someone who is self-employed. My friends are always asking “how do you have time to do that?”, or “why aren’t you at work?” and I feel they really fail to realize that the work never ends. You’re literally on call 24/7. There’s machines that need attention all of the time, somethings running out somewhere else, someone’s calling out, there’s 500+ emails weekly. To keep it simple, my day is up in the air. Some days the shops are slammed and I get nothing done, and that’s great. Other days I’m running between both shops, sitting on my computer, at the bank, at restaurant depot, or running an event. Some days I have time to stop home for lunch and other days I literally do not eat.

One thing I make sure I do daily is workout. The rest can take place, but after I workout. Because then I know my head is good, and I’ve taken care of me. I tackle what is most imperative and set a list for myself every single day of the things I hope to accomplish before I can fall asleep. For the last two and a half years, we opened at 7am and closed at 9 – 10pm. Yup, that means the shops were literally alone asleep when we were. That means 5:30am wake ups, and midnight call-outs haha. We’re a small business so every little detail is crucial. Training a team of employees is hard when they’ve never worked at facility like yours before. We’ve established everything we do- of course there’s things that were inspired or taken from other restaurants we’ve worked in, but most of what we do is entirely our own and I think that makes us really unique.

4. Do you remember the turning point when you both decided to pursue Shaka Bowl? How did it go?

KI: LOL. Considering we started this restaurant writing on post it notes to take orders I’d say we were always all in! BUT it has a been a long, grueling, road to say the least. Luckily we have such a loving and understanding relationship that it just keeps us moving to do better even when the road gets blocked.

KR: Kiersten responded to this pretty well, but to keep it simple: we just dove in head first. We had absolutely NO idea what we were doing. Our brother proposed opening a restaurant to us, which has always been Kiersten’s dream, and we did it. It’s my dream too because I honestly had no idea what else I would do with my life that would lead me to be able to preach my passion for a healthy lifestyle. The outcome literally brings tears to my eyes. Some days we stand back and say to each other “all of these people are in our restaurant, eating our food”, and it’s pretty surreal. The first year was so blissful, but it was hard. I worked Monday-Sunday, 16 hour days for a year straight. It took 16 hour days most weeks to even figure out what we were even doing. It was nonstop and it was great, but it was scary. I remember waking up fearful everyday. I couldn’t believe I was even doing what I was. Customers would be outside at 6:55 for a 7am open, and I was still panicking because I didn’t quite exactly have a groove in place.

5. What were some of the obstacles you faced when you both first started Shaka Bowl? How did you overcome it?

KI: Well, we lived together, so that was rough - eating, sleeping, breathing, running a store then opening a second one was a lot of time and effort. I’d say we came out on topz

KR: Kiersten and I had a divorce. She moved out and I moved in with my boyfriend- haha I say that because we literally eat, lived, breathed together, worked together and it was emotionally exhausting. We had a few operational disagreements but one thing was clear, our vision for Shaka was pretty much the same. That was to bring this clean, tasteful, innovative cuisine to a city where really lacks diversity when it comes to health food. It seems funny now given that acai and poke shops are a dime a dozen, but at the time we were the first, and the only. And that was pretty cool. We overcame our issues by trial and error, that was easy. Fix what wasn’t working and keep what was. Obstacles were things like managing a team of 20+ employees, and really being an example. Dealing with errant customers, and sometimes, ex-employees too. Dealing with being in the public eye and realizing people noticed and cared if we had an opinion on things was tough too. I remember making a small comment encouraging something, you know just random “Way to go!” on the Instagram comment and before you knew it we were being politically attacked. I remember sitting with an HR lady because I had lost control of my staff and without them I’d be lost. In the beginning, it was tough to define being their friends and being their boss, and we lost a lot of time with that. You get so attached to your staff and it was hard to learn that it wasn’t my job to give them a job.

6. What are some tools you use to run your business? What has been the biggest life saver?

KI: I’d say our employees make the place go round!

KR: Hmm… there’s always quick books, word press {which you really appreciate when you literally need so many signs}, our upgraded POS computer system, our camera system that helps me better manage the shops, and ensure everything is in order; I use adobe spark for creating awesome images, and of course our staff. We couldn’t do it without them, and we’ve been super fortunate to have a really awesome team of employees. Some of which we’ve had since we opened. We’ve created this small family and we all know where we come from.

7. You both have supported WE of Hudson County before it was formed. Why do you think it's important to have a women entrepreneurship group in our community?

KI: Because women are empowering individuals as is, in our industry women are often not taken seriously. It’s important to have a support system by like minded individuals always.

KR: Honestly, it’s so awesome to connect with people. You literally cannot do it alone, and I think it’s really important to be in a supportive community like Hoboken. I have friends that are women business owners in other towns and the community isn’t half as in touch. It’s tough out there, and I truly think one connection that you hit it off with, can really help you business wise, and networking wise. And hopefully Shaka Bowl can shed some insight on people in need.

8. What advice would you give to those looking to start their own business or that are new to the entrepreneurial journey?

Kiersten Gormeley - Photo Credit: Kat Papera

KI: Always keep the people who feel like sunflowers close to you, they’re the ones who will keep pushing you and inspiring you to create. Being a young entrepreneur is difficult but I take each experience no matter how harsh or hurtful and allow it to help me grow like a sunflower in the sunshine.

KR: I only own restaurants, so I cannot give advice for someone embarking on anything else, but I’d like to believe we’re all on par. Sacrifice. Be ready to give it your all and be ready to lose it all if things don’t work out. It’s scary, I remember losing sleep months leading up to opening our shop, and it wasn’t unnecessary. We had literally no clue what we were in store for, and busy is GREAT. But you must be ready to keep your passion alive- you must be ready for fear, and you must know that not every single day will be good. Success takes time, and you need time to bring your vision to life. Change will happen, and you need to be ready if other people do not agree. Treat your staff with respect and be ready to be criticized when people do not agree. It’s ok to mess things up, and just remember everything is “figure-put-able”. I wish someone told me that before I lost my cool 150 million times (not kidding. Haha). It’s hard to see the light on the days where everything seems It’s going wrong, but above all remember people forgive. Honesty heals all. People enjoy compassion!

Kiersten Gormeley

Insta: @Kierstengabrielle

Krista Gormeley

Insta: @Kristagormeley


Insta: @ShakaBowl

FB: @ShakaBowl

We hope you enjoyed reading about them as much as we did! Please show them some love and let them know we sent you!

On top of them being our first ever Female Inspiration of the Month - we are hosting our first WE Meetup After Dark networking event! Best part is, if you loved reading about them, you'll have the opportunity to meet them!

Click the save the date below to purchase your ticket now!


Do you know a Boss Babe that needs to be featured? Send us an email at weofhudsoncounty@gmail.com!

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