Let’s face it – the benefits of being your own boss are endless.
And for us foodies, is there anything more appealing than spending our days cooking delicious, healthy grub – and making a living from it?! Whilst it’s probably the Monday morning fantasy of many health bloggers, there are some hard-working entrepreneurs out there making the jump to quit their day jobs and launch their healthy start-ups. But is it really as fun and fulfilling as it looks, or is there blood, sweat and tears concealed beneath those seemingly perfect Instagrams?
I had a chat with Pandora Symes about her journey of getting started in the booming healthy food industry. Pandora is the founder of Rooted London, a delivery service that provides delicious, nutritious food as well as coaching and consultancy. Taking the leap is no easy feat, so we got the down low on the essential things to consider before launching a start-up, as well an overview of the process from her perspective.
What were you doing before Rooted, and how did the inspiration for Rooted London come about?
I’ve worked in the wellbeing and beauty industry as a Publicist for the past 11 years. I’ve always been a foodie and decided to go freelance and start a course in nutrition. I’ve watched the health world change dramatically, with people becoming far more attuned to their health so I knew I had to act sharpish and create something that took on board my own philosophy, and one I wanted to share with a wider audience.
What’s the Rooted philosophy?
Listen to your Body and Feed your Soul. There’s a huge emphasis on ‘clean’ living, which implies that eating anything other than kale and greens is dirty which is far from the truth. That’s why Rooted offers food and food coaching for people who care about what they eat but want to keep it ‘real’. This means finding balance and not giving yourself a hard time if you fancy a burger or a pizza with friends on a Friday night; it’s all about balance. By ‘real’ we promote seasonal food, a predominantly plant-based diet, nothing packaged and a conscious awareness as to where food is from, whether than be your local independent retailer or your local supplier – we support British produce as much as we can. Most importantly it’s about finding a healthy relationship with food – a lifestyle – and keeping it real!
How long did it take from the initial conception to physical launch?
Not long! I always knew I wanted to launch a supperclub, purely as a way of cooking for friends and anyone else who shared the same food philosophy as me so that was the basis of the original plan. In October 2014 I had a meeting with the Founders of Stretch about PR work and they were interested in having a food brand sell from the Ada Street studio – it just felt so on brand for ROOTED and a great synergy. So I made it happen and I launched in January. It felt right so I trusted my gut and rolled with it. Once you have a clear idea of what your brand ethos is, it isn’t hard to get things going. It just takes time and a lot of get-up-and-go.
What has the most exciting part of the process been for you so far?
Meeting new people has by far been the best part of the process. The yoga community, my customers, the Stretch gang; we all share common interest and a passion for living well and with balance. It’s been so refreshing to be a part of it. I’ve loved being able to meet my customers and hear their feedback first hand.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
Making sure I have a broad menu each week but starting with small orders means I am in the kitchen a lot, most evenings in fact. Holding that down with a day job is tough. Once the bigger orders come in it is easier to forecast and make in batches, which inevitably works better for costs and my schedule. That said I wouldn’t have it any other way. Rooted is all about fresh, seasonal produce and a personal approach. It’s nice that I know my customers on a personal level. It will change of course but I will always keep that personal approach. In a world of digital communication I feel it’s needed.
And finally, what are your top three pieces of advice for anyone considering a food business start-up?
– Be prepared… you’ll be working day and night and there is always more to do!
– Following this, I always make sure you take one night off, a week where I turn off the wifi, my phone and computer and have a bath and an early night. I call it hibernation night and it keeps you going for the rest of the week.
– Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’ve found that the health and wellbeing industry is a very friendly one and people are keen to support like-minded businesses. You’ll also find you have a lot of friends with different skills so ask them for their input. It’s been great to have honest feedback from my nearest and dearest!