Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar to close its doors

Sarah Wilson, former Cosmopolitan editor and Fairfax journalist, has shut her diet and lifestyle publishing business, I Quit Sugar.

Wilson informed staff this week the almost five-year-old operation would close after failing to find a buyer that accorded with her business values. employs over 15 people

In her post, Wilson clarified the business was not failing financially and she made the decision after realising money had become her main motivator.

“Once we arrived at the point where ‘scale’ – growing the existing structure exponentially – was required, I realised the motivator now was money. My motivator had not been money previously, a freedom that enabled me to make bold decisions that at times startled peers and the industry, but ultimately, and ironically, saw my message and product spread further,” Wilson said.

“So I decided a little over 12 months ago that it was time for me to go. I’m an educator, a communicator. Not a money-spinner. It was best for everyone and for the message.”

The website was born after Wilson’s diagnosis with Hashimoto’s Disease in 2008, which led her to experimenting with and changing her diet. In its first year, the publisher turned over $534,000 and anticipated it would turn over $4m between 2014-15.

This led to the digital I Quit Sugar Cookbook and other initiatives, including diet programs.

Wilson had been looking to sell the operation but it had fallen through in the final stages. According to LinkedIn, more than 15 staff members could be affected.

In a post on her personal blog, Wilson wrote: “I have some big news and it’s important to me that I share it with you first. After a lot of careful thought and much heartache, I’ve decided to close

“As many of you know, the IQS journey started at a time in my life that had given me cause to re-evaluate what mattered in life. From this place I decided to (re)build my life according to certain values. These values went on to steer the IQS message as well as the business.

“Recently I’ve realised that to remain true to my original commitment, I must pivot course. Seven years into a movement, five years into a business, I feel my work in the realm is done. I set out to educate the world about the truth of our eating habits and to find a technique that could shift things in a meaningful way. I felt I was a good person to do it – I had journalism skills and experience and a platform. And I was cool with copping the flak.”

Wilson said money had become her motivator

Wilson said she had set out to sell the business but ran into various issues.

“But here was the rub: Normally with such a sale, the owner is kept on for about three years to continue the brand and image messaging for consumers. Golden handcuffs you might say. I, however, stipulated I could not and would not do this. And put up a reduced sale price to compensate.

Wilson announced the news on her personal blog

“Indeed, at one point I floated the idea that I’d give it away, but the psychology and logistics of this proved impossible, too. Perhaps selfishly, I knew I couldn’t watch as a new owner steered my name and brand and values in directions I didn’t agree wholly with.

“But, you see, for a business that has the founder’s name and noggin all over it, my stance didn’t gel in the market. I suspect many also had a hard time understanding why a founder would want to walk from a successful business.”

Wilson said she will focus her energy on other areas, such as education campaigns, the anxiety discussion and the food waste movement. She said the business will not closing immediately.

“Without a doubt this has been the second most agonising and carefully mapped out decision of my life so far. The first was the one I made a bit over seven years ago to choose a different path and to not get caught up. I hope you respect it’s not been made lightly, nor entirely selfishly.

She also thanked her staff and general manager, Jorge da Rocha: “They joined my business to further their careers and to join a movement they believed in. In many cases they moved states and took pay cuts from big jobs to have a hand in something they felt was true and would do good. I owe them the courtesy of being as true and respectful with this process as I can. And to ask the industry, the media and the ‘socials’ to join me in this.”

In 2010, prior to setting up I Quit Sugar, Wilson spoke on The Mumbo Report about her career to date in journalism.


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