Knowing What's Important
Alumna Blends Business, Philanthropy and Commitment to Family
When Gayle Tauber '73 (B.A. history), co-founder of the Kashi Company, sold the well-known food enterprise to Kellogg's in 2000, she didn't consider retirement. In fact, these days she and her husband, Phil, who launched the company in their La Jolla home in 1984, are busier than ever.
They could have rested on their laurels. Kashi – which required all of the money the Taubers had to launch – generated $25 million in sales in 1999 alone and grew more than 100 percent in the last fiscal year the Taubers owned it.
But the energetic and enthusiastic Tauber, who said the family faced bankruptcy twice as they built their empire, remains active in both business and philanthropic organizations, serving as CEO of Seedling Fund LLC, a family investment company that takes positions in first-stage companies, and supporting women's, Jewish and educational causes.
"We made classic business mistakes," Tauber recalled of the couple's early years. "At one point, we couldn't even make the mortgage payment" for their home in the Hollywood Hills. "But we always realized what was important – our core as a couple and doing whatever we needed to do to ensure that we succeeded."
The couple has been nearly inseparable ever since they met at a Bob's Big Boy on Van Nuys Boulevard when she was 16 years old and Phil was 18. In the early years, she said, they were nearly starving when friends persuaded them to sell knives door to door. That experience led to the realization that Phil is both a born salesman and a prolific dreamer, while Gayle is both good with numbers and has a nuts-and-bolts affinity for business operations. They have been married for 45 years; it is a fateful and productive pairing.
A musician, Phil toured with rock groups in the 1970s with Gayle in tow. When they settled down, they built the foundations of what is now the indoor plant industry. Then they met legendary bodybuilder Vince Gironda and together popularized bodybuilding for women. In the process, they dedicated themselves to fitness and healthy eating, which eventually led to their development of the Kashi line. Along the way, they owned and operated a gourmet grocery store, co-founded a real estate company that focused on distressed property turnarounds, and had two daughters. Both are grown, and the Taubers now have two granddaughters.
A co-founder of Women Give San Diego, Gayle has been both entrepreneur and philanthropist for more than 35 years. She is immediate past president of The Trusteeship, a Southern California chapter of the International Women's Forum, an international organization that advances women's leadership across careers, cultures and continents, and remains on its board. She is a past board member of the Women's Foundation of California, a nonprofit that focuses on low-income women and girls. She has served on the boards of the University of San Diego's School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the San Diego Women's Foundation, and The Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity.
Phil is an accomplished musician and composer who backs up visiting international artists through his affiliation with the Musicians' Association of San Diego County. He is a past board member of San Diego's Lyceum Theater and the Los Angeles-based Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity. He is a board member of Yapert, an online celebrity social media company.
"Early on, we were pushed to the outside of society," Gayle recalled. "It was then we realized our true essence – that we are risk-takers. We are not afraid of anything."