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TARA PUNZONE: Pura Vita Vegan

Tori Green: Who are you? What do you do?

Tara Punzone: My name is Tara Punzone, I am the Chef and Owner of Pura Vita in West Hollywood and Redondo Beach.

Tori:What was your first business (including running your own business)? How long did this last or are you still involved in the same business?

Tara: My first business (of my own) is Pura Vita West Hollywood. We are approaching our 4 year anniversary! Sept 5th!

Tori: Biggest challenge? How did you get through it?

Tara: Covid shut downs. Perseverance and amazingly supportive customers. Then we were granted a patio on Santa Monica blvd which saved the business!

Tori: What is something that you wish you could go back and tell yourself before starting this journey?

Tara: To squeeze in another travel experience before NEVER being able to go anywhere haha.

Tori: What did you do before owning your own/running your business?

Tara: Chefs / Culinary Director at other vegan restaurants.

Tori: What/who made you take the first leap?

Tara: My last trip to Italy made me realize I needed to move faster with my plan or someone else would do it before me.

Tori: Who was the first to believe in you and give you real support (financial/sweat equity)?

Tara: Jay, friend since 15.

Tori: Was this your dream job? If not, what was?

Tara: YES! This has been my dream since I was 12 years old.

Tori: Why did you get into this field?

Tara: I have been vegan for over 30 years and all I want is to help keep animals out of the slaughterhouse. I do my part by making vegan food that meat eaters enjoy so I can try to change habits / minds.

Tori: What is your biggest failure that you turned into a success?

Tara: Original intended business partner screwed me over so hard. It really disenchanted me for a minute but it was an important lesson learned and gave me even more motivation that I needed to make it happen for real.

Tori: If you could change one thing about your life today for the better, what would it be?

Tara: Time off to travel. It has been 4 years and I cannot wait. It helps inspire me.

Tori: How is your life/work balance? Body, mind, and soul weekly routine?

Tara: 6 days a week – wake up, exercise, restaurant all day/night. Mondays – squeeze in everything else I need to do! These days, occasionally I take Tuesdays off for fun stuff.

Tori: Do you say/write out affirmations?

Tara: I say my intentions out loud. It helps me hold myself accountable.

Tori: When was the last time you tried something new/ Stepped out of routine?

Tara: It's been a while. Too long actually.

Tori: Do you think your gender gives you an advantage or disadvantage in today’s world?

Tara: Well, I am a woman in a man's world so, disadvantage. However, I use it to my advantage like anything else.. I am headstrong and being at a disadvantage is motivation to work harder.

Tori: Have you experienced different treatment from your peers of the opposite sex?

Tara: Yes. In both good and bad ways.

Tori: Thoughts on the glass ceiling?

Tara: Break it.

Tori: What advice would you give your children/ future children about succeeding in a

patriarchal society?

Tara: Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you cannot do something or achieve your dreams. As long as you are truly passionate and you really mean it with all your heart, you can literally accomplish anything you put your mind to.

Tori: If you could talk to a young boy/girl from your hometown neighborhood who aspires to

have your career/job/focus what would tell them? Advice.

Tara: Focus your mind, keep your body healthy and don’t plan on having free time or money for a long time!

Tori: Fun fact about you?

Tara: I have a masters degree in fine art but I love music the most.

Tori: Number one piece of advice you remember?

Tara: Stop giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. (I am guilty of this and it has hurt me many times).

Tori: Anything coming up for you that you want to talk about?

Tara: Working on writing a book.. my next major goal! It's SO difficult!!!

Tori: Where can we find you online?

Tara: @cheftarapunzone

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