MEET TINA TURBIN: In addition to being an avid book lover and philanthropist, Tina Turbin is an author, researcher and cook. She has many interests and enjoys sharing them through her written words. Her current projects involve writing children’s books, researching and writing prolifically about the gluten-free lifestyle, the autoimmune disease celiac disease and developing incredible recipes in her two kitchens. Check out this business and lifestyle dynamo online at: www.TinaTurbin.com and www.GlutenFreeHelp.info.
WMI: When you were a young girl what did you aspire to become after you became an adult?
TT: Boy that is an interesting question to start me with and it brought a smile right away. When I was very young I wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first book when I was 16-years-old. I also had big dreams to be an architect or interior designer. I was forever rearranging furniture in the house and drawing my “ideal house.” To this day I am a licensed designer and a published author who writes professionally.
WMI: Tell us where you worked, and what were you doing, before you launched Gluten Free Help?
TT: I had my own business, Show Biz Kidz, working with children in the entertainment business out of our Los Angeles office for many years until our move to Florida. My first book, Showbiz Kidz East Coast Guidebook, is based on my work helping kids land roles in the entertainment business. As noted at http://www.showbizkidsbook.com/tinaturbin.php the guidebook is my way of helping the young artists and their parents smoothly, simply and successfully achieve their dreams in the exciting area of show biz.
Florida is where I became a licensed designer and eventually got involved in real estate. I love homes, seeing how others decorate them and even tearing apart walls, adding rooms and upgrading homes. It is just rewarding to me and fortunately I have been successful in this.
WMI: When did you launch Gluten Free Help and what inspired you to start the company?
TT: I had a terrible few “too many” years with body troubles: digestion, aches, poor blood tests and no answers or resolution. I had to eventually take my health into my own hands and, with research, I came across this new term, Celiac Disease. I requested tests I never had before and finally got the RIGHT answer, the right cause of my physical troubles. I was celiac.
I had also published my children’s book, Danny The Dragon. I care tremendously for families and children. With my continued research (and book tours) I witnessed and read far too many affects this “gluten” and UN-diagnosed celiac and gluten sensitivity was having on families, let alone society. It was actually an eye opener I had not expected.
Equipped with this new knowledge, I had to help. I had to become an advocate for those suffering from celiac and gluten sensitivity in any way I could. Gluten Free Help is part of my advocacy efforts.
WMI: Businesses need capital to survive. That said, where did you get your initial financial investment to launch Gluten Free Help? Also, what was the initial financial investment you put into Gluten Free Help?
TT: While conducting my previous work and while completing various jobs, I became savvy at “saving”. I always had a plan to start writing again after my kids were grown. I built a bit of a financial cushion to help me. At the time I returned to writing, my kids had grown up; only one of my children was still living at home. My husband also supported me tremendously. It was my husband who witnessed my health declining before I was properly diagnosed. Both my husband and I were extremely concerned about my health for a number of years. To be honest, I have no clue what the initial investment into my business, in money terms, was as I had volunteers and only one part-time employee and a very part-time editor for the first two years of the business. The main investment was my time and effort to get the website up.
WMI: What has been the greatest challenge you’ve faced since you put on the helmet of business owner?
TT: The greatest challenge initially was juggling life: work, mom-hood, a happy relationship with my husband and friends and still keeping my sanity by not spreading myself too thin and losing sight of my true purposes.
As I have gotten older and have gained far more experience and confidence, I can say that my greatest challenge these days is still the juggle of life yet in a far different way than I previously experienced. I find myself interested in so much yet I realize that some things are a priority and should be. I am much calmer and not at all worried about things like I used to be. I also am much smarter about surrounding myself with truly good people to work and socialize with. This alone has given me a much easier life, not to mention much more fun.
WMI: There’s been a lot of discussion around Unresponsive Celiac Disease. What is Unresponsive Celiac Disease and how can the disease be treated or its symptoms minimized?
TT: This is a subject I’m extremely passionate about. Let me explain. Most people think or hope, deep in their hearts, that they will get better the same way they think “all these other people” who were diagnosed as celiac or gluten sensitive have improved after getting on a gluten-free diet. They read about people improving. They see all this gluten–free food on the shelves, thinking to themselves that this gluten-free diet must be really good for you.
However, not everyone who goes on a gluten-free diet thrives. I encourage those who do not respond and get better (meaning their symptoms are improved but they still are not thriving and they still have symptoms) to look further into this term “unresponsive celiac disease.”
For example, there can be other things barring the improvement of one’s health, anything from bacterial overgrowth, other food allergies, other auto-immune disorders, trouble with grains overall, trouble with legumes, malnutrition etc. Finding what else may be going on and what else will improve your health is important if you are not responding to the gluten-free diet.
Also, the standard gluten-free diet, with all the pre-packages foods on store shelves, is pretty void of nutrition, fiber and nutrients. The food taste good and that’s about it. The celiac arena is starting to add things to improve the nutrients and awareness, which I am pleased about.
WMI: Obesity is a hot topic around the country right now. Food manufacturers are making changes to address people’s sensitivity to gluten. Do you think the food industry is making enough changes to help improve the overall health, including fat intake, of Americans? How so?
TT: I think the food industry is extremely confused overall when it comes to diets. I believe there are some very well intentioned individuals and groups who are sharing helpful evidence to help turn our health around with truthful facts in the area of nutrition, sleep, exercise etc. It is a “package” we must acknowledge. Never in our history have children been so sedentary and never in our history have we had such heavy, even obese, adults. On the flip side, our food is being manipulated, stripped of nutrients, engineered and filled with ingredients that are foreign to our bodies.
WMI: Tell us about the types of services you offer clients at Gluten Free Help.
TT: Well, this is the exciting part and I am happy you asked. I have been fortunate enough to be able to be flanked by my now 23-year-old daughter, Miranda Jade, in this gluten-free business; my daughter also helps with the website. She too was diagnosed with celiac disease after numerous years of trouble and incorrect handlings. She has a fire and passion about this topic and helping others that is unable to be dampened. With accidental ingestion of gluten she also gets the rash termed dermatitis herpetiformis, which is celiac disease. As a child she was sensitive to this terrible rash and blistering that so many teens and adults cannot bear to be seen with. She has helped so many people gain a thorough understanding of this rash as well as how to properly deal with it.
Miranda Jade has partnered with me and has been handling the website, emails, reviews, interviews, etc. since the beginning of 2012, when the change was announced officially in a press release. This has enabled me to work on other research projects. I have another award winning book on the site – Gluten and Your Aging Body. Working on the book was very exciting. Miranda Jade is also writing many books which are now just being released. One book is about gluten and pets; the other books are about children and gluten, subjects dear to Miranda Jade.
Miranda Jade helps in many ways. She helps with references, free PDFs and Tips Sheets that are offered right on our home page. She also helps by providing answers to cooking questions, by making nutritional recommendations . . . you name it! We work with companies that sell products on store shelves, etc. As part of this process, Miranda Jades helps test products from food to shampoos and even medical bracelets. It’s so exciting.
WMI: You’re also the author of the books Danny the Dragon and the Showbiz Kids East Coast Guidebook. Please give us a brief overview of both books and tell our readers where they can get copies of your books.
TT: Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy is my multi award-winning children’s book. Apple’s first ever app to be released for the iPad with sign interpretation. In fact, they featured my book for a while in their advertisements! It is available as an app for the iPhone now as well as in bookstores and on the site http://www.DannyTheDragon.com. If anyone orders via the website then they get signed copies with additional goodies for the kids like book marks, door hangers and pencils.
It has won numerous awards (12 total) such as Disney Media’s Parent’s Choice Award and Creative Parent’s Choice Awards to name just a couple. It is now represented in the immense App world by the very same team handling Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon.
Showbiz Kids East Coast Guidebook was my answer to the many questions I had as I headed to the East Coast after having worked for several years in Los Angeles. The business is slightly different on the East Coast and that book helps clarify and guide any family in the business. http://www.ShowBizKidzGuidebook.com
WMI: What advice can you share with parents who are pushing to get their children roles with major television or motion picture firms?
TT: To children, I say – practice your craft no matter where you live. To parents I say – see if your child loves stage, theater, being in front of the camera, etc. (participating in acting classes too). If your child has the passion she or he can achieve her or his dreams. I have no doubt about that. On the other hand, if a child is beautiful, stunning looking or handsome and it is the parent’s dream to have the child succeed in the entertainment business, then I suggest against moving the child into this field. After all, it takes a lot of determination and work to make it big. The rewards are immense, no doubt. Parents just have to make sure it is their child’s dream and then take the proper steps to help their child fulfill his or her dream. Also, keep it fun if the child is young!
WMI: Are there plans to write and publish another book? If so, what will that book be about and when can we expect to see it on the market?
TT: I will release a book this year if all goes as planned. However, at this time, I am not at liberty to share the details.
WMI: You’re also a researcher and blogger, in addition to managing Gluten Free Help and authoring books. Tina, how important it is for small business owners, particularly creative artists working as freelancers, to have two or more streams of income? Why do you say this?
TT: This is VERY important. Two or more sources of income are the key to security, financial success or stability. I could not be doing what I do without the various sources of income I have had. This was a point my husband and I agreed upon nearly 32 years ago. We have been quite a team with that understanding under our belts. To worry endlessly about money is not a happy way to live. To find creative ways to make money puts one in the driver’s seat of life and eventually, if one completes the correct and logical actions, one will reap the benefits.
WMI: Tell us about three to four effective marketing strategies you use to grow your business and gain additional exposure for your books?
TT: Good question. To market my products and services I use social media. I network online and offline. I promote constantly. To other creative artists and entrepreneurs, I suggest working on something fresh and new; stay on top of the game. Keep yourself well informed.
WMI: What’s next for Tina Turbin and Gluten Free Info? Where do you see yourself and your business two to three years from now?
TT: I see myself putting out more books. I see the gluten-free site expanding in other ways as this field grows and I see my 23-year-old daughter taking the helm of http://www.GlutenFreeHelp.info by as much as 100% and making strides beyond my wildest dreams. Last, but not least, I see the website connected with a very well sought after gluten-free healthy boutique café-bakery, a step that will set the precedent for others.
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