What does it take to launch and scale a successful vegan CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) business? To make it to the shelves of Whole Foods Market and catch the eyes of celebrity customers? To rise as a female CEO and endure criticism for what you wear? Founder and CEO of DEUX Sabeena Ladha has done it all, and in less than three years, her vegan cookie dough company has proven itself one to watch.
We’ve interviewed Ladha before, but the conversation was centered around building the business (and cookie dough, for obvious reasons). For this Day in the Life series, we wanted to know how Ladha lives her life on the day-to-day. What does it take to continue innovating without cannibalizing current products? With new celebrity partnerships and constant iterations of mouthwatering flavors, when does she sleep? What does she eat between bites of DEUX?
We asked and Ladha was happy to answer. Here’s what this vegan entrepreneur does to balance, work, life, and everything sweet.
Who is Sabeena Ladha?
If you ask fans of the NBC pitch competition show, Shark Tank, you might know Ladha as the woman who wore the infamous pink suit. When we asked about this experience during our last interview, she called it “the pink suit heard ‘round the world.” She was prepared, confident, and had a winning product, but the response from the internet was vastly focused on her outfit, rather than her pitch.
Undeterred by the unwelcome and inappropriate comments that surfaced from those who hid behind screens, Ladha built her business without the Sharks’ support. DEUX launched as a gluten-free, adaptogen-infused, good-for-you vegan cookie dough in 2020, and from a consumer standpoint, the business has thrived.
Ladha and her team have built a brand with multiple celebrity endorsements (Kristin Cavallari, Karlie Kloss, Hannah Godwin, and Lauryn Evarts, just to name a few), over a dozen flavor varieties, and more than 1,200 stockists. In addition to flavors such as Birthday Cake and Brownie Batter, DEUX also includes two luscious spreads in Chocolate Hazelnut and Cookie Butter as well as the just-launched Glazed Donuts bites.
Before Ladha embraced her role as the vegan cookie dough queen, she honed her skills in business. A graduate of Texas University’s McCombs School of business, she worked as a marketing analyst for PepsiCo and served as an independent consultant specializing in growth and marketing. It’s no surprise that DEUX immediately draws you in with its bright color palette and playful aesthetic.
A 5:15am wakeup call
“Lately, I’ve been waking up around 5:15am to Mariah Carey’s ‘Honey’ … which startles my dog and husband—it’s great,” Ladha joked. Mariah starts singing and Ladha is up, downing an energizing supplement—either caffeine or Joggy energizers—and making a point to not wash her face. She told us this habit has helped with her acne and overall complexion. Instead of soap and water, she pats on some Summer Fridays moisturizer and a Jet Lag mask.
By 6am, her husband is up and he drives them to a Barry’s Bootcamp class. She answers emails while he drives to keep up with her team on the East Coast. Workout crushed, Ladha downs a smoothie, does some facial ice rolling, showers, and heads off to her WeWork coworking space.
There’s one caveat to this routine, which is a new development. Since the launch of the new DEUX Glazed Donuts, Ladha has been popping two of these sweet treats a day along with her coffee. “Sometimes I still can’t believe they are vegan,” Ladha confessed. “They’re light, taste just like a Dunkin’ Munchkin, and are the perfect sweet bite to start my day.”
Calls, meetings, and grocery store wandering
No two days look alike as a CEO, and you can’t always dictate your own schedule, but Ladha makes every attempt to block out her days to maximize performance and avoid too much screen time.
In a perfect world, meetings and calls are done in a block—from 9am to 2pm—followed by an in-person meeting with an investor (she’s fundraising at the moment) or gathering with her team for a content shoot. Ladha admitted this doesn’t always happen, and there are many days where she’s on the computer until the sun sets, but she makes an effort to minimize these all-day screen days.
With DEUX’s expansion into even more retailers, Ladha is creating a habit to visit grocery stores and check on her products’ placement. With potential out-of-stock issues or misplaced products (for example, being put in frozen instead of refrigerated), there’s a lot more to this undercover grocery store work than meets the consumers’ eye.
At the end of the day, Ladha retires to her home and often continues her work. Her husband cooks dinner (while she works), and they eat together. In the past, Ladha has been in the habit of keeping the television on for background noise. “I am a TV junkie, always have been,” Ladha professed, but she made a resolution in 2023 to reduce this habit.
Following dinner, Ladha will squeeze in a bit more work, walk her dog, call her mom and sisters, and then head to bed early before starting another jam-packed day.
Ladha’s food philosophy
Her eating style is fluid, but her choices largely revolve around how food makes her feel. She needs to be at the top of her game every day, so it’s only natural that she chooses wholesome, plant-based options for the majority of her meals.
“A lot of what I eat is driven by the physical energy [and] bloating that comes with said foods,” Ladha confirmed.
She listed off a few of her favorite meals, and it had our mouths watering. One recurring dish was a homemade Carbone Spicy Rigatoni. She’ll serve this with a little gem salad if hosting or simply enjoy it with her husband.
Ladha’s other go-to meals are mostly in bowl form. She loves a one-pot Mexican quinoa salad or putting together a rice bowl topped with air-fried protein and veggies plus something spicy, always.
“I try to eat ‘real’ foods and broadly prefer being plant-based because of the energy it gives me.”
When eating out, she cited two Los Angeles hot spots: Erewhon and Gracias Madre. Technically, Erewhon is a natural grocery store, but their hot bar is a fan favorite. Ladha likes to mix and match with a hot bar combo plate, and it “must always include the White Bean Avocado Kale Salad and Buffalo Cauliflower.” At Gracias Madre, her go-to’s are the vegan ceviche and tacos paired with “a killer spicy margarita.”
Again, the spice element is a recurring theme in all of Ladha’s food preferences. We’re waiting for a spicy DEUX flavor … perhaps a spicy ginger snap flavor?