What does it take to run a growing health brand with a positively focused social media presence, write a cookbook, offer coaching, excel at academics, participate in a dance troupe and maintain a social life? For Los Angeles native Sloane Chmara, it’s all about wellness.
“To me, wellness means being my happiest, best self in that present moment—physically, mentally and spiritually,” Chmara said, “and knowing that my definition of wellness is fluid and can change day to day, week to week, year to year.”
Chmara is a medicine, health and society major, with minors in French and corporate strategy. She says this interdisciplinary academic track has provided her with the tools to help translate her zeal for healthy cooking and communicating into a career.
Passion for cooking
“I’ve had a passion for cooking since I was really little. Baking was just so fun for me because it kind of felt like arts and crafts,” said Chmara, who ran a baking business in high school.
After starting college, however, she found eating more wholesome foods made her feel better mentally and physically. Chmara started combining dining hall options with other fresh ingredients and created recipes that she could make in her dorm room. Then she took that interest into the classroom.
“I’ve always been a math and science girl, so that’s why the field of nutrition is so interesting to me. I started studying the science behind nutrition, especially with the help of Professor Jamie Pope, and brought it into my cooking,” Chmara said.
Kale and Kravings
Her new healthy creations were also beautiful to look at. So the summer following freshman year, she started photographing and sharing her “rainbow bowls” and other recipes on Instagram under the handle @KaleandKravings.
“When I got back to school sophomore year, people who I didn’t really know were coming up to me and saying, ‘I saw what you started this summer—I’m a huge fan!’ and I freaked out,” Chmara said. “As my followers built up, I realized maybe I did have something that was relatable that other students would also find helpful.”
That’s when her business instincts kicked in, and a healthy cooking hobby became a truly immersive experience. She launched the Kale and Kravings website and expanded her social media platform.
“I am a serial entrepreneur,” Chmara said. “I have tried to start at least 10 businesses since the time that my brother and I would do lemonade stands on our corner in the neighborhood.”
She broadened the range of business classes she was taking and started a cooking show on Vanderbilt’s student TV network. She also helped launch the student organization Vanderbilt Women in Business with her sorority sister, Sasha Pines, BS’17.
“Being in that professional mentoring environment, especially with Sasha’s leadership, was super instrumental in showing me what it looks like to network and to use all the resources that we have here at Vanderbilt,” Chmara said.
In April 2018, Chmara appeared on an episode of the Food Network’s online program ChoppedU and won her episode.
“ChoppedU was one of the best experiences of my life,” she said. “I am really big on goal-setting and the idea of manifestation. I meditate daily and I try to visualize my goals, and I think that’s something that helped me get on ChoppedU and helps me today.”
During her senior year, Chmara accomplished another milestone by writing and launching an online cookbook and lifestyle guide called Kollege Kravings.
Beyond her studies and Kale and Kravings, Chmara has been dancing with the Vanderbilt Vitality Dance Company for four years and is active in her sorority.
“Vanderbilt is full of driven students, and there is something for everybody and it’s encouraged and supported,” Chmara said.
So how does she juggle it all?
“I will not sit here and say that it’s easy and a breeze,” she said. “I think how I make it work is just sticking with my passion and acknowledging how happy doing everything makes me.
“My friends and my family are my No. 1 support system,” she said. “I would have crashed and burned a long time ago if I didn’t have them. And I prioritize my education and the amazing resources I have at Vanderbilt so much. There are so many people here who want to help.”
Her other big secret? Chmara always gets at least eight hours of sleep each night.
“I prioritize sleep, my sanity and my health,” she said. “I’ve never pulled an all-nighter in my life, and I don’t really intend to.”