For Business

Founder story: Peak & Valley

One neuroscience researcher turned her personal wellness journey into a botanical empire.

Illustration of Peak & Valley supplements next to the company founder standing in front of plants

For Nadine Joseph, the path to entrepreneurship began not in a boardroom or a startup accelerator, but in a lab. Back in 2014, she was juggling two demanding research roles—one at UC San Francisco’s Department of Neurosurgery and another at UC Berkeley studying the effects of stress on learning and memory.

“I was living off of a researcher’s salary, which doesn’t go very far, especially in San Francisco,” Nadine recalls. “My work was really stressful, and I started experiencing all the classic symptoms: trouble sleeping, fatigue, restlessness.”

The irony wasn’t lost on Nadine. She was immersed in research on stress, yet struggling with its very real impacts on her own health and well-being.

“Even after I was able to cut back to just one lab and get my schedule more under control, I still had a lot of those stress symptoms,” she says. “That’s when I started looking into natural remedies and discovering the power of adaptogenic herbs.”

Herbs like ashwagandha, rhodiola, and reishi had been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine to help the body adapt to and manage stress. As Nadine dug deeper into the research, she was amazed by the mounting scientific evidence backing these ancient plant medicines.

“I started incorporating them into my daily routine, and within a few weeks, I felt so much better—more energized and focused,” she says. “That was my ‘Aha!’ moment. I knew I had to share these herbal remedies with the world.”

Go straight to the source

From that aha moment, Nadine dove headfirst into the world of botanical formulation, scouring published research and poring over traditional texts to uncover the most potent, well-researched herbs for supporting stress resilience, cognitive function, and overall well-being. In 2015, she officially launched Peak and Valley, with the mission of making these powerful plant medicines accessible to all.

But Nadine wasn’t just on a mission to create effective supplements, she was determined to transform the herbal industry.

“When I started looking into the supply chain, I was really disturbed by what I found,” she says. “Herbs often change hands 10 times or more before reaching the consumer, and there’s zero transparency around sourcing practices or fair treatment of farmers.”

Many of the small-scale farmers cultivating these herbs were struggling to make ends meet, forced to abandon their traditional regenerative techniques in favor of more intensive, high-yield methods just to compete. “It’s a vicious cycle. The herbs get cheaper, but the long-term health of the land and the livelihoods of the farmers are sacrificed,” Nadine explains.

Unwilling to be part of the problem, she made it her mission to build a new model for ethical, sustainable herb sourcing. Nadine traveled the globe, forging direct partnerships with small-scale farmers in India, Peru, and South Africa, and paying them fair, living wages to continue their time-honored growing practices.

“It’s challenging work, but so rewarding to see the positive impact we’re having,” she says. “Our farmers are able to maintain their traditional livelihoods and regenerative farming methods, while our customers get the highest-quality, most ethically sourced herbs on the market.”

Take it directly to consumers

This uncompromising commitment to transparency and sustainability has made Peak and Valley a standout in the crowded supplements space. Over the past few years, the brand has secured major retail deals with the likes of Whole Foods, CVS, Vitamin Shoppe, and Kroger—no small feat for a small team of just three. “Hitting those milestones has been incredibly gratifying,” Nadine says. “It shows that there’s a real appetite out there for products that put ethics and ingredient quality first.”

One of Nadine’s proudest achievements has been the launch of Peak and Valley’s Balance My Stress adaptogen blend, a personal favorite that she takes religiously. “Our brains just weren’t built for the hyper-stimulation of modern life,” she reflects. “I formulated Balance to be a daily tool for managing that chronic stress and keeping our minds and bodies in harmony.” She also launched Nourish My Brain Adaptogen capsules.

In addition to bringing these necessary “daily tools” from the farms to consumers, Nadine wanted to provide the best ecommerce experience for Peak and Valley customers. For that, Nadine found that Buy with Prime was the answer.

A faster path to holistic health

“Adding Buy with Prime was a great opportunity to shorten our shipping times and provide an even more seamless checkout process for our customers,” she explains.

Previously, Peak and Valley orders were taking an average of 4-5 days to reach customers. But with Buy with Prime, customers can get orders of her top-selling products shipped in as fast as one day.

“When customers see the Buy with Prime badge on our product pages, it really instills a sense of trust because shoppers know they’ll get that fast shipping,” she says.

With Buy with Prime and other initiatives underway, Nadine is looking ahead to an exciting new chapter of growth and impact for Peak and Valley. The brand’s recent nationwide launch into Whole Foods is just the beginning of retail expansion, and Nadine is eager to continue growing her network of farmer partnerships around the world.

“Increasing our farming relationships, especially in India where we source most of our herbs, is what excites me most about the future,” she says. “The more we can grow our footprint, the greater our positive impact will be on reversing harmful agricultural practices and empowering small-scale producers to maintain their traditional, regenerative methods. That’s the real mission behind Peak and Valley.”

With the integration of tools like Buy with Prime and the trust of major retail partners like Whole Foods, Nadine is well-equipped to turn her vision into a reality in the years to come.

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Anita Little