THE INTERVIEW: Tonya Papanikolov

“My life’s work is to help people through fungi, food, & lifestyle.”

“My life’s work is to help people through fungi, food, & lifestyle.”

Rainbo is a functional mushroom brand creating tinctures & supplements to support wellbeing. As a Life House partner, guests at our Berkshires location are greeted with The Travel Kit – on the go bottles of Chaga, Reishi, Cordyceps, and Lion's Mane. We caught up with Rainbo’s Founder & CEO, Tonya Papanikolov, about her inspiration, the benefits of fungi, and sustainability.

The Setting: What sparked your interest in plant medicine?

My healing journey began as a teenager and those experiences directed my focus from a young age. I’ve been studying nutritional sciences and holistic modalities ever since and have devoted my life’s work to helping people heal and upgrade through fungi, food, and lifestyle.

The Plot: How did Rainbo come to be?

My first-hand healing experience with fungi began in 2011 which sparked my passion, reverence, and belief in the magic of mushrooms. In 2016 I had a profound healing with Reishi which catalyzed my vision for spreading functional mushrooms to more people. Since 2018, I’ve been building the Rainbo brand and product line of dietary supplements and functional foods. Our mushrooms are grown locally and sustainably in Canada. We’re so excited to partner with like-minded brands like Life House to further our mission in spreading the word about functional mushrooms.

The Characters: Are there any brands or entrepreneurs that inspire you?

Yes, tons! A few favorites are:

Marie Forleo - Thought leader and entrepreneur. I love her courses and have learned so much from her. From how to manage time to how everything is "figure-out-able" to how to create the business of my dreams.

Trinity Mouzon Wofford - Co-Founder and CEO of Golde, a superfood health and beauty brand. She’s so grounded, wise, and building her company in a way that resonates.

Melissa Wood - Wellness coach and Founder of MWH. She is completely herself and has created an inspiring business.

The Conflict: What sustainability efforts are you focused on at Rainbo?

Like a network of mycelium, we believe that all of our practices at Rainbo should work in tandem with one another to help keep our planet clean, healthy, and happy. Since day one, we’ve considered and implemented sustainable practices across each facet of our business: from offering extracts in large 100ml glass bottles to bulk offerings, recyclable materials, paper based labels, and donating a portion of all sales to environmental and social justice causes. We’re also a B Corp-certified company! This means that we meet the highest standards of social and environmental responsibility and that we have gone through a rigorous process of building kindness into everything we do. In addition, we are Climate Neutral Certified, which means that each year, we offset our entire carbon footprint - what it takes to produce our products and ship them to our customers.

The Theme: What are functional mushrooms? Tell us about their benefits.

Functional mushrooms are specific groups of fungi containing bioactive compounds that have been shown to have health-supporting effects in the body, most of which have a long history of traditional use. Mushroom benefits:

  • Immune support - mushrooms contain compounds that act as immunomodulators meaning they can upregulate or downregulate your immune system depending on what it needs 
  • Antioxidant support 
  • Longevity and healthy aging
  • DNA and cell protection from free radicals 
  • Liver support 
  • Brain and cognitive support
  • Energy 
  • Stress support – adaptogenic
  • Sleep support – calming and relaxing

Point of View: Do you have a daily wellness routine?

  • Drinking 3L of water daily 
  • Rainbo mushrooms in my morning tonic 
  • 5 minutes of left nostril breathing (to activate parasympathetic system) upon waking and/or before bed
  • Gratitude practice 
  • 30 minutes of exercise: yoga, pilates, walking, or running 
  • A daily walk (I try for 10,000 steps)
  • 31 minute meditation practice  
  • Consistent meals to keep my blood sugar balanced—we forget how important this is! 
  • Kissing, touch, and intimacy

See Tonya on Instagram at @tonyapapanikolove and @rainbomushrooms.

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