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Allergic to nuts? This 16-year-old boss babe has the solution

 

If you have a nut or other food allergy, Lily Pinto knows *exactly* how terrible it can make you feel--after her first anaphylaxis incident (that's the scientific name for an allergic reaction), much of the food she once enjoyed was no longer safe for her to eat. "I know the lack of trust, I know the lack of safety, I know the fear," Lily told GL, "I think high school is a very social time, and my nut allergies have, for me, at least in my life, hindered that social connection with others."

Coping with her nut allergy hasn't just been a struggle physically, it's also been mentally tough. "What people don't understand a lot of the time is that they think it's this technical, scientific thing. Like if you just don't eat nuts, you're good! But it's very emotional, and it really hinders your self-confidence at times," she confides. However, Lily takes pride in how far she has come. "I've definitely grown a lot," she declares. "I've found my own way to live where I feel safe."    

Rather than constantly struggle to find safe snacks produced in nut-free factories, she decided to take matters into her own hands and start her own company, Don't Go Nuts, which makes nut-free snack bars for people with food allergies. "I think that something as simple as a snack bar is really so much more than that for someone like me," Lily says, "because it's an emotional relief to eat something, and know that it's safe. It ripples, and leads you to a life that is more healthy, and more free and more safe." 

 

Starting a business is tough at any age, and Lily knows the unique challenges that come with doing it so early in life. The hardest part has been "finding a balance between giving what I can to help, but also being a teenager....bouncing between helping and being part of the business, but also having my own life and separate passions." High school is a time of self-discovery, she explains, and that's difficult enough without a company to run on the side. 

Still, Lily gushes about other aspects of teenage entrepreneurship. "The best past is the learning experience with our amazing team, and I've just learned a lot about work ethic, and starting a business. Getting a clear idea, seeing a need for it, seeing what I could do to help. It's kind of a beautiful thing to be a part of, and I'm very grateful for it." She says that finding something you're passionate about and then finding people who share that passion is mega powerful and inspiring.

To all other girls who might be interested in creating their own businesses, Lily says: "Obviously, you can't do it alone. Find people that are going to stand with you and are just passionate about it, because that will manifest into the universe and create something successful. I feel really lucky that I've been a part of this, because the company really has shown me every day what purposeful work looks like which is something I'm going to take into my own life." If she wants to try something new, Lily says that she'll "just go for it! I'm going to care, and be passionate, and be ambitious."

Peep the video about Lily's successful snack biz below.

That's a goal we should all strive to reach! Tell GL: have you ever struggled with a food allergy?        

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by Bridget Curley | 5/2/2017
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