Knowing Your Truth

 Photo by David Post

Photo by David Post

 

The smartest thing I’ve ever done in my life is marry my wife, Natasha. Everything else is a stretch, or if it turned out okay, likely thanks to her.

When we were dating, I would be skipping off to meet my buddies at a bar after my shift at a local New York City restaurant. She was already asleep in order to wake early to teach (the noblest profession) at a Brooklyn public school - simultaneously working towards her second (yes, second) masters degree in education. Her first masters being from Harvard in education policy and management. Not only that but she's beautiful, funny, has an incredibly loving family, and does a good job keeping me attached to earth. 

I married up. Way up.

When I crazily decided to quit my day job to start a company with no money, she supported us both working tirelessly for New York City’s after school programs, and later, for the past two New York City mayors. When she got off work, exhausted, she would come to our factory and help roast cacao, wrap bars, and pack up boxes. She believed in us. She is my truth.

In fact, I think it is fair to say that Mast owes most of the success we have seen, first and foremost, to the women in our lives. Another force of nature in my life, is my mother.  On welfare and then a secretary’s salary she raised three kids on her own. Having children of my own now, I sincerely don't know how she did it.  To secure and build our first space in Williamsburg, my mother took a mortgage out on her modest home in Iowa City. She was willing to bet it all on her two sons. This unconditional and unselfish love - this act of graciousness, is my truth. 

And don't forget my older sister, Anne Marie. The role she has played in the building of our company is not quite as literal but just as impactful. I don't say it enough to her directly, but she is an inspiration. She and her husband may just be the best parents I know, raising three incredibly brilliant, humble, and beautiful children. They are passionately progressive, modern farmers (and all around do-gooders) in northern Minnesota. They are farming primarily livestock on a beautiful 100 acre farm. As my mom would say, from experience, 'the farm life is hard'. Hard but inspiring. Her inspiration is my truth. 

 The entire Mast family gathered in Bedford, NY for Thanksgiving and to celebrate our mother's 70th birthday.

The entire Mast family gathered in Bedford, NY for Thanksgiving and to celebrate our mother's 70th birthday.

I continue to be the luckiest man on earth. My wife and I have two kids, live in a beautiful house in the country just outside the city, and make no mistake about it, my wife is still running the show. Although the students have changed, she still teaches. She travels the world teaching leadership, change, and management for an incredible company. She inspires me, coaches me, laughs and cries with me. We love to cook as a family, but more often than not, she’s still the one cleaning up, changing more than her fair share of diapers, preparing our six year old's backpack and lunch, and doing the laundry. Let’s just say that on the homefront, like many men, I’m a work in progress. A universal truth.

A few years ago, we changed our label from Mast Brothers to simply Mast. Surprisingly, it went largely unnoticed. But we did this for one simple, important reason: 

Our company is much more than my brother and I. The truth is, it always was. 

My brother and I are indebted to the love and support of others. I could go on and on about the others not mentioned above (Megan, my brother's wife, in particular deserves enormous gratitude). We are a company of moms, dads, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, grandparents, sons and daughters. We are vibrant, ambitious folks of all ages, genders, orientations, and religions looking to make a positive impact. We are farmers who think of cocoa as food fit for a family, not just the futures market.

Mast, more than anything, is family. 

This is my truth. This is the truth and strength of Mast. My brother and I get more than our fair share of press, praise and attention, but I know my truth. And I am grateful.

From our family to yours,

Rick

Rick Mast