I had the privilege of hopping on the phone with the delightful Zooey Deschanel. Since I’m on my seventh New Girl rewatch, and tenth 500 Days of Summer rewatch, I was practically giddy to chat with her. As many of us do, Zooey has shifted focus a few times. She’s currently all in on increasing access to healthy food. Her app Merryfield incentivizes people to shop better-for-you brands. Merryfield is adding a Learn & Earn initiative in Fresh Thyme Market with plans to expand to additional stores. We talked about everything from food desserts and access to aging and skin care.
I just learned about Merryfield, and I think it’s so brilliant. Could you explain to readers what it is for anyone who doesn’t know?
“Our initial goal was to help people have more access to better-for-you brands. We have a panel of experts that review brands, and we have participating brands that meet our rigorous standards, and so we give rewards for buying those brands. We started also giving people rewards for basically their entire grocery list, but we give more rewards for the better-for-you brands. So, that’s how we started, and now we’re launching this Learn & Earn program where people can scan QR codes at the market and learn more about the brands that they’re buying or are interested in buying to kind of just pique people’s curiosity and inspire people to make better purchases.”
I love that because, on the beauty side, everyone is always talking about clean beauty, and some stores have really rigorous standards for what is clean. I think it’s so great to have the same approach when it comes to food.
“Yeah, it’s interesting. My parents ate really healthy, not in like a hippie granola way but in like a European kind of way. My mom makes her own bread like three times a week. Everything was always homemade. We never had fake stuff. It was real things, nothing artificial in my house growing up. That’s kind of the way that I was raised, and then when I was pregnant, and I was having to put a lot of makeup on my face all the time, I started looking for clean beauty brands. Then, eight years ago, it was actually really hard to find.
I would go into a makeup store, and they would act like I was crazy. I’d be like, ‘Do you have any clean beauty brands?’ And they’d say, ‘What? What’s that? We don’t have any of that.’ Now it’s so much more available, and I would say it’s kind of a sister project to Merryfield. It all affects us. I hate to be vain, but when you eat healthier, you look better, your hair grows better. So all of it’s important.”
Are there any clean skin-care brands that you love?
The more those brands thrive, the more the other brands try to make better choices because they see that it helps brands be successful. That ends up being better for the consumer. We all drive the company to make better choices with our dollars, and when we choose better-for-you brands, whether it be in food, household products, makeup, or other beauty brands like skin care and hair care, it helps everybody.”
What made you so passionate about creating Merryfield?
“So I co-founded a company called Lettuce Grow which helps people grow food at home with hydroponic growing devices, and they’re awesome. I just wanted to help people grow food at home, and that came from when I was pregnant. I just was thinking about being a mother, and when we become parents or any kind of caretaker, we want what’s best for our kids. I didn’t like the fact that healthy foods and better-for-you brands were easy for some to access and very difficult for others.
I didn’t like that somehow that seemed like it was a privilege and not a basic human right. Being able to have those things at your stores or being able to afford those things, I felt like that was ridiculous that only certain people could have access. So it was inspired by that. I just think that’s lame. Everyone should be able to have access to healthy food.”
I live in New York, and the food deserts can be so bad in places where you can only get to a bodega and not a market with fresh produce.
“Learning about food deserts was a very eye-opening thing for me. I was just shocked that there are people who live in places with basically no access to fresh food. It’s very upsetting.”
Bangs are a big trend right now. You’ve had the perfect bang situation for years. Do you have any tips for bang newbies?
“Not getting like super short bangs—they’re harder to style. My bangs now are different than they used to be. I think I just have more cowlicks in my hair or something. They’re different, and I accept that. I think usually a curtain bang can be a good, easy starter bang because they kind of split in the middle.
Evaluating your hair texture and everything is important. Always talk to your stylist about whether you’re a good candidate. For some hair types, it’s more difficult, like super straight fine hair. At least friends of mine with fine hair who have had bangs have been a little more frustrated. You want to talk to your stylist and just make sure that they’re cutting the right type of bangs for your hair texture and your face shape.
Don’t bring a picture of someone who looks totally different with totally different hair texture. It’ll be more frustrating. Like if I wanted super curly bangs, I’d have to curl my hair every day, you know? So that maybe wouldn’t be the best picture to take to my stylist.”
Are you enjoying your 40s more than your younger years?
“Yeah, for sure. I think every year gets better. Living a healthy lifestyle and taking care of yourself and all those things obviously help make you look and feel your best. I think it’s better because, I think, the older we get, the more perspective we have, and it’s nice. You don’t care as much what people think of you.”