Busy Londoners often don’t have time to consider a healthy lunch or snack amongst their daily schedule. In solution to this problem, Stephanie Johnson and Kristina Komlosiova set up Pollen + Grace in 2015, aiming to provide the business world with 100 per cent, natural and organic ingredients to boost them through their busy day.
What does your business do?
Pollen + Grace make healthy, nutritious and delicious food to go – without compromising on taste and flavour. With a collection taking you from breakfast, to lunch, to superfood snacks, we offer sustainable and healthy choices that promise to help you heal, thrive and feel your absolute best.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Pollen + Grace was born out of our frustration at the lack of lunchtime eating options. We wanted to offer a range of food and snacks made using only 100 per cent natural ingredients and free from gluten, wheat, dairy and refined sugars for busy but health-conscious London professionals.
Most people only have a few minutes to go out and grab something easy and quick for lunch, and it’s very easy to reach for unsatisfying, unhealthy options. Pollen + Grace believe that beauty starts on the inside and that by eating high quality, natural food we can make more long term, sustainable and healthier choices.
How did you know there was a market for it?
To be short – we didn’t. When we started ‘wellness’ hadn’t kicked off in London yet, so it was very much still a niche. What we did know was that we had a huge passion for healthy food and so there must be people out there like us who want the same things! We both believe in long term, sustainable, healthy food choices that enrich our bodies and taste great and we knew that other Londoners felt the same.
Describe your business model in brief
We now have a team of 14 amazing girls working at Pollen + Grace, and we make all the product by hand each day at our Vauxhall kitchen. They are then delivered fresh to over 50 stores across London including Planet Organic, Harrods, Selfridges & Co, SOURCED market, Simply Fresh, PSYCLE and As Nature Intended. Steph and Kris are both co-founders and work with Steph’s mother Hazie as well as an in-house naturopath Anastasia.
How did you raise funding, and why?
We held off raising funding for as long as we could, as we wanted to grow a solid business and vision before we had anyone else involved. There is a huge trend towards investment at the moment, but there is a lot to be said for shoe stringing it and grafting. Our investors actually found us just at the right time, so we were very lucky.
At the end of last year we brought on our first major investor who now also sits as our chairman – we are so happy we waited until then, and also chose the investor we did. In addition to investment he brings with him a great wealth of knowledge and help which is just as valuable as the capital.
What was your first big milestone and when did you cross it?
Probably when we first started stocking into Planet Organic, they were our first big retail client – it was a game changer for us!
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Just start. Don’t be afraid to start small.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
We have big plans for the next few years, but we hope you will see us in stores across the UK, potentially with a few of our own concept stores in London. We also hope to be very happy and continue to support and nurture the amazing people in our team!
If you weren’t an entrepreneur, you would be…
That’s a tricky one, I’d probably be a chef/product developer – which is basically what I do now! It would just be for somebody else….
What is your philosophy on business or life, in a nutshell?
I have two, which I think go hand in hand…..
Life will pay you what you ask of it – the universe will give you as much or as little as you think you deserve, so make sure your inner dialogue and actions are asking for what you really want!
You paint your world – I.e. What you think/believe/dream is what will come true