Erika Szychowski is Fearless, Female and Focused
by Stefanie Michaels
It’s time to meet the founder of Good Zebra!
Anyone else struggle to eat well on-the-go and find that the more active you are the worse it gets? Enter Erika Szychowski, the founder of a better for you snack brand that puts the one-two punch in convenient, delicious and nostalgic animal crackers. These little beasts are an excellent source of protein and free of refined sugar.
Erika and I met many years ago on a safari in South Africa, and even at that point she was snack obsessed, loud and fearless. Over the past 20 years Erika has worked for powerhouse brands such as E*TRADE and Nine West, collaborated with InStyle Magazine, raised money for Fashion Targets Breast Cancer, St Jude and United Way. I could find her on tour with the Rolling Stones., executing the SuperBowl Half Time Show or launching a footwear brand in China, the Middle East or down under. She has also been a leader throughout multiple industries and a loyal, yet tough, mentor to countless women.
These experiences combined with countless others has made her a brand authority, trend expert and consumer advocate, as well as given her years to prove a concept: the world needs better snacks.
In 2015 Erika was running marketing worldwide for Nine West Footwear and found it was increasingly difficult to find an on-the-go snack that was free of sugar. EVERYTHING has sugar in it. So she set out to do things her way, the Good Zebra way. Like its namesake animal, Good Zebra is black + white, meaning there is nothing shady in these little beasts.
“I was so tired of following the rules, tired of asking permission and playing it safe,” she says. “In my final year of corporate work, I hit my stride; worked on things I was proud of, broke the rules and we broke through.”
She also got herself fired.
Turns out bold, outrageous, brave, loud and fearless wasn’t what they were looking for. It had felt so contradictory to how she was raised both in her personal life as well as early stages of her career. What had inspired her was gone, brave brands that were game changing were certainly hard to come by.
Retail was playing it safe. So, she realized that it was time to build a brand she could be proud of and to share her journey along the way.
“Nothing about this is easy, the ups and
downs are real, but so are the gifts
of abundance,” states Szychowski.
When we first met, Erika shared a story with me about volunteering at a children’s summer camp outside of Tokyo. When I asked her what her favorite part of the experience was, she told me on the last night, they built a huge bonfire, which is quite unusual for Japanese children. To contribute to the experience, Erika brought the fixings for good ol’ smores. Years later we made smores together around the firepit in my backyard.
Here at Adventure Girl HQ, we struggle with finding non-sugary snack options when we’re traveling. Planning ahead for healthy options that will satisfy a sweet tooth is important, otherwise it’s always grabbing for those gummies. And we all know the best option is to pick protein-packed snacks that will sustain as well as satisfy, right? Right!
Thank goodness for all of us, Szychowski decided she wanted to have her “cookies” and eat them too. Her solution: Spirit Animal Crackers.
“Unlike the caged circus animal crackers from your childhood, these are much tastier and definitely healthier,” she says. Good Zebra’s Spirit Animal Crackers are packed with 12g of protein per 2oz serving and no refined sugar (only sweetened with honey and coconut sugar).
“I believe refined sugar is at the root of all evil, but I also believe packaged snacks are a necessary evil as we all move too fast and need to carry worthy snacks along for the ride,” says Szychowski. “At Good Zebra, we’re risk-takers and rule-breakers, and we’re out to flip the cookie industry on its little sugary head.”
Spirit Animal Crackers got their start in her own kitchen with only her imagination, plenty of sass, and a love of baking— no recipe, no measuring cups! Nothing processed. Nothing refined. Nothing short of good.
What’s also interesting, you’re eating art! Each of the 11 animal shapes are inspired by original tattoo art.
Photos courtesy of Erika Szychowski
Good Zebra also offers an online QUIZ where you can discover your personal spirit animal.
Stefanie Michaels, aka ‘Adventure Girl’, spends more than 180 days a year on the road seeking out great spots for adventures, dining, shopping, hotels and more. Dubbed “America’s Sweetheart” by Vanity Fair Magazine for being one of Twitter’s first icon’s to reach over 1 million followers, her fans continue to grow across all of her digital media platforms. Follow her @adventuregirl as she shares photos, updates and more.