Posted Nov 23, 2015 by Ashley Hoffmann, Ecwid Team

Paleoista’s Epic E-commerce Journey: From Personal Passion To International Business

Personal passion sparks the fire for many Ecwid entrepreneurs when starting a new business venture. This month, we had the pleasure of speaking with Nell Stephenson, founder and creator of Paleoista (a trademarked union of “paleo” and “fashionista”), whose 4 year anniversary with Ecwid is coming up on Thanksgiving Day.

Nell’s motto is “eat food and move” — what better advice can we ask for as we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday with food, family & friends, and fun?

Business Roots & Inspiration

Paleoista’s roots sprouted over 20 years ago. Hailing from a “health nut” family, Nell was raised with wholesome foods and lots of outdoor activities. After graduating from USC with a degree in Exercise and Physiology, Nell began her career in corporate health at Sony. She later launched her first private business endeavor as a fitness and nutritional coach working out of local area gyms. Paleoista has since grown from a local business to an international enterprise, primarily via the reach of the web.

Though she followed a healthy diet and an athletic training program, Nell was plagued by illnesses and upset stomachs throughout her childhood. “The symptoms continued to worsen into my early 20s, without any explanation,” Nell said. “All kinds of tests came back negative. I was living a healthy lifestyle — we didn’t know what was going on!”

An Ongoing Evolution

2005 became a life changing year for Nell. It was when she discovered The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain, PhD. After following its advice for three days, she finally began to feel the good health and wellbeing she had sought for years. It turned out that Nell has a fairly common gluten sensitivity. “How could the solution that stumped me and my doctors for over a decade be this simple?” Nell exclaimed.

Nell’s health steadily improved as she embraced the Paleo diet. Nell began to incorporate the philosophy with her clients and extended her business model to include nutrition, cooking classes and personalized meal delivery. “Everyone began to get healthier, leaner, and happier,” she reported.


In 2007, Nell’s husband inspired her to publish her first online blog: “all things Paleo.” The blog was also Nell’s first website. “It was small, did not include sales, and targeted just my local clients with my business resume” she explained. As readership grew, Nell realized that the website had the potential to expand her business and increase revenue. She launched her first online sales efforts with downloadable meal plans in 2009.

Also in 2009, Nell sent Dr. Cordain a thank you letter and was surprised to receive a prompt response with an offer to contribute to his newsletter. Now a seasoned blogger, she gladly accepted.

The two developed an informal co-mentoring relationship and created implementation plans for their clients. The symbiotic relationship led to the publication of a team authored cookbook in 2010, The Paleo Diet.

Major Media Moments Trigger New Growth

Since 2010, Paleoista has taken off. The success of The Paleo Diet led to guest appearances on Dr. Oz, bringing international recognition and affirming her nutritional expertise.

After the Oz appearance, Nell started to think even bigger. “The jump in web traffic that I experienced following the Oz appearance convinced me that expanding my network was going to be the next step to growth.”

It was during a full site redesign, in late 2011, that Nell learned about Ecwid. Her new site launched Christmas week, and her first sales were rolling in before the new year.

Nell’s site underwent another facelift this year to keep pace with consumer demand for mobile responsive websites. The update also makes her site compatible with her newly launched True Paleo Nutrition app.

paleoista site

Ongoing innovation has been key to Paleoista’s evolution as a successful e-tailer. Rather than taking a DIY approach, Nell chose to work with developers to realize her business visions and enhance Paleoista’s online presence. With a solid foundation, she maintains the blog and online store on her own.

Lessons Learned & Advice for Ecwid Entrepreneurs

When asked what lessons she’s learned the hard way, Nell told us about an expensive marketing experiment. “I employed a professional marketing firm this year at a high monthly cost. The goal was to improve my SEO, increase web traffic and expand my social media presence. After a few months I did not see significant improvement or change. It was an expensive lesson learned, but I moved forward!”

Today, Nell handles her own marketing. She’s spent some time learning about keywords, metatags, and the importance of generating social media followers. Her social media is currently focused on Twitter and Facebook, where she has a combined following of over 10,000 users!

She’s also exploring Instagram and Pinterest. “I believe in starting small, and expanding as it makes sense,” Nell says. It’s true. When businesses are getting started it’s easy to get stuck in the details. With the Internet, change is constant. Nell’s advice to new entrepreneurs, “the most important thing is to start getting your message out!”

“Now I really understand the importance of diversifying my message to reach a wider audience.” Nell’s realization echoes the advice of Internet success experts. While Paleo nutrition is the cornerstone of Nell’s business, personalized consultation, exercise, lifestyle changes, and improved well being are also central to her coaching techniques. To reach a wider audience she regularly incorporates stories about exercise, fat loss, and lifestyle changes into her blog.

Paleoista is not merely a reflection of founder Nell Stephenson’s lifestyle. The business has grown out of her desire to help others find the path to personal well being that she experienced when she adopted the Paleo lifestyle. To this day she is a devoted athlete who challenges her limits by participating in marathons, triathlons and yes, even the coveted Iron”man” races. Read more about Nell’s business and personal journey here.


Interested in sharing your story with other Ecwid fans? Send me a note and we’ll chat!

About the author
Ashley leads Ecwid’s customer success initiatives and is passionate about creating happy customers and maximizing value. When she isn’t chatting with customers you’ll likely find her playing outdoors on a surf or snowboard.
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