The new member of the United Nations Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council spends a day in her hometown.
Julie Smolyanksy is ready to take the world by storm, and she’s not wasting any time. As a member of the Global Entrepreneurs Council — the United Nations Foundation’s group of 10 elite young business moguls — she’s tasked with brainstorming ways to use new technology to combat issues like poverty, famine, illness and inequality across the world. But Smolyansky is undaunted by the huge undertaking. “I want to do whatever I can to help humanity,” she says. “I know it sounds crazy and big, but it’s the U.N.”
Taking on big projects is how Smolyansky made a name for herself. Ten years ago, she became the youngest CEO of a publicly traded company, Lifeway Foods, after she took over for her father. Since then, she’s used technology and creativity to help the company grow to an $80 million-per-year business. “We were very early on social media,” she says. “When we put Lifeway on Twitter, the only other brands I could see there were Whole Foods and Starbucks.” It’s important to Smolyansky that Lifeway, which specializes in producing kefir (a Russian mixture of grain and dairy), promotes healthier lifestyles through nutrition. “By raising awareness of probiotics, we can impact the heath of our communities and reduce healthcare costs,” she says. “We want to take some very inexpensive ideas and save lives.”
Our nation’s health isn’t her only concern. “Women’s issues have always been a passion of mine,” she says. In the past, she’s worked with supermodel Christy Turlington for Every Mother Counts, an organization supporting maternal health in developing countries. As part of her efforts, Smolyansky took a trip to Bangladesh, visiting nonprofit sites across the country and reaching out to local mothers.
With her technological savvy, business acumen and powerful passions, Smolyansky seems perfectly primed for her current position alongside big names like Barbara Bush and Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal.
Here, the mogul and global problem solver takes us through her comparatively relaxing Sunday in the city.
Smolyanksy stays-up-to-date from the minute she wakes up, immediately turning on “Meet the Press” or CNN.
Her two daughters, Misha and Leah, get out of bed and head to their parents’ room to cuddle and watch “Arthur” or “Martha Speaks.”
The family stays in Lincoln Park for brunch at kid-friendly John’s Place (1200 W. Webster), where Smolyansky enjoys a bellini.
The gang picks up some sweet treats at Sweet Mandy B’s (1208 W. Webster). Cupcakes and s’mores are the family faves.
When the girls wake up, Smolyansky takes them sledding in Oz Park and then out for hot cocoa at Vosges Haut-Cholocate (951 W. Armitage).