Los Angeles, CA–Chef and Wellness Entrepreneur Charles Chen is up to it again, innovating and spreading the word about natural products with Zzeal.
Chen made a name for himself in the industry after a physical and spiritual transformation of losing 100 pounds. What started as experimenting in the kitchen and sharing recipes with friends, turned into Party in Your Mouth, Chen’s personal brand where he hosted new-concept taste-testing community cooking experiences. Party in Your Mouth started as a meet-up type of event. It was a way to create community through cooking. People who attended Party in Your Mouth events learned about new natural products, recipes to make at home, and left with giftbags made up of Chen’s favorite products. The 25-person event grew to thousands of interested consumers.
“At first, I rented a small backyard at a salon,” Chen shared in an interview with WholeFoods Magazine. “I had so much fun and I wanted to create a space where people could connect with like-minded people. I got grants and started working with brands and sponsors. Brands donated products because they believed in the mission. The whole experience became like a party.”
The success kept coming. Brands wanted a new way to increase sales, so they sponsored Party in Your Mouth tours. Next, Chen began hosting Zzealfest, wellness festivals that have panels, speakers, and tastings. With a mission to create an inclusive and diverse wellness space for the natural products industry, Chen wanted to make the event unique, so he brought in a DJ, Hip Hop music and created a dance-party like wellness experience.
Chen says learned early on in his time in the wellness space that community is a big part of wellness. “When you’re on a transformation, whether it’s health related or not, your community is an integral part of your success,” he shares. “If you have an off day, hopefully there’s someone that can help you get back up.”
Zzeal Box Spreads Wellness and Positivity
Chen’s brand is based on the pillars of community and togetherness, but COVID-19 has brought up challenges to holding an in-person festival. “How do we make people feel seen, heard, and a part of something when they’re not together?” That was the question Chen asked himself. “We’re human and we want to feel social and connected,” he tells WholeFoods.
Enter his next innovation: In early Spring 2020, Chen started sending out personalized care-packages, Zzeal Boxes, to spread positivity during the pandemic. In it’s first wave, Zzeal Boxes were sent to nurses on the frontlines. The Zzeal boxes are filled with products from company’s with a social mission, all hand picked by Chen. The boxes serve as an avenue to get these new products to taste-makers that build brand awareness, without friction caused by economic status or COVID-19 setbacks.
Meant to support small businesses and up-and-coming brands, Zzeal boxes are helping small businesses nationwide, one box at a time.
“You can’t just have a good product, you need to build awareness around mission of your product,” Chen shares. “Most small brands don’t have marketing budgets, or ad dollars to be spending on ads, so I include their products in our monthly Zzeal box.”
Along with the products are meaningful notes and messages that spread positivity. It’s not just food either: Some boxes include ingredients for recipes, jump ropes for new exercises to learn.
How Can a Brand Get into the Box?
Brands that are interested in Zzeal Boxes can email Chen directly. “Every brand is different and at a different level,” he says. “We’ll discuss your struggles, what the brand needs help with, and what Zzeal can do.”
“Coming from a past history of working with other brands as an influencer, I understand both sides,” he adds. “I understand how a brand wants to be presented and how an influencer wants to work with a brand. I’ve been able to offer that to brands.”
Zzeal Boxes are a way for small businesses to engage in an authentic way. In a world with so many products, consumers like to receive a highly curated box. “I do not just put any product in the box,” Chen stresses. “Everything has integrity, transparency. I want to find and highlight good products with great stories.”
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Zzeal Looks to the Future
“I have realized my work is so much bigger than myself,” says Chen. “I wanted to create something different that was based on community, sharing perspectives–something I could stand by.”
The name Zzeal came from the English work Zeal, meaning zest, enthusiasm, energy towards a specific objective. As long as there are individuals who want to do good in the world, Zzeal will continue to amplify those voices. Whether it’s the roundtable talks, their Unpopular web series, Zzealfests, or Zzealboxes themselves, will continue to promote wellness.
“My goal is to have our content to be disruptive by larger media companies,” Chen adds. “I just want to be the ‘hip-hop’ category of wellness. When you think of Vice or MTV, it’s distinct. I want ZZeal to be a movement started by the people for the people.”