Perhaps one of the most important goals students have upon graduation is to find work that means something to them, that they’re passionate about. College of Charleston junior Richard Saad (above, far left) is already working toward this goal by turning his passion for healthy living and clean eating into a health food business.

A smoothie at Happy Mondays. Photo: Reese Moore

While working at the front desk and as a trainer at Exemplar Fitness on James Island, Saad, an exercise science major, was approached by owners Jason Fiutem and Joey Welling to find a way to offer higher quality protein for the protein shakes they serve at the gym.

“They knew about my passion for natural bodybuilding, fitness, and nutrition, and trusted me to find a product we could comfortably and confidently offer our members,” says Saad, who is also minoring in business.

With the help of his two business partners, College of Charleston alumnus Ryan Kennedy (above, far right) and Kerrie Poulin (above, middle), Happy Mondays began. The name for the business came from Kennedy’s positive habit of greeting people coming to the gym with “Happy (insert day of the week)!”

“We truly believe that if you can have a happy Monday, often the most dreaded day of the week, you can have a great any day,” says Saad.

RELATED: Learn more about CofC’s exercise science program.

The menu at Happy Mondays. Photo: Reese Moore

Happy Mondays’ mission is to provide high quality, whole, natural and clean energy food for athletes, health enthusiasts and those who want to feel good about what goes into their bodies. Saad attributes his knowledge about running a business successfully and tastefully to lessons he’s learned in the classroom.

“My courses in health and nutrition have helped a ton in understanding the effects of added ingredients to almost every food you buy,” says Saad. “My partners and I spend so much time looking at nutrition labels and finding suppliers for our ingredients because of the amount of deceit in the ‘health’ industry.”

You don’t have to be a member of the gym in order to purchase Happy Mondays’ offerings – everything from grass-fed whey protein shakes and overnight oatmeal to chia seed pudding and energy balls. Everything is made from all natural, non-GMO ingredients with no added sugars. Each product is intended to provide clean, whole food with lasting energy.

Another smoothie from Happy Mondays. Photo: Reese Moore

Saad says his exercise science courses have taught him the essentials of understanding one’s body and how diet choices can hamper performance. His business minor also helped in developing the business, especially his classes in accounting, business management and microeconomics and business law. The partners had to develop a business plan, perform cost analysis, apply for business licensing and negotiate contracts to rent space through the City of Charleston and Exemplar Fitness. “A business does not start on the first day of opening; it begins months prior,” says Saad.

“I’ve learned that food and exercise are the keys to understanding most of the illnesses, diseases, and everyday symptoms (headaches, energy loss, sickness, etc.) that a person’s body can undergo,” says Saad.

After graduation, Saad plans to continue building Happy Mondays and hopes to become certified by the American College of Sports Medicine in exercise physiology, specializing in nutrition, which would enable him to develop new products for his company.

Lilly Frederick is a junior from San Diego studying English and creative writing at the College of Charleston. She is also an Orientation Intern for the Office of New Student Programs.