We chatted with Kristina and Stephanie, Founders of Pollen + Grace, to find out about healthy home-cooked ready meals and snacks. All of their products(breakfast pots, lunch boxes, hot pots and snack squares) are 100% natural, plant-based and gluten-free.
Living a healthy life is a well-balanced one.
Why did you decide to start Pollen + Grace?
We started Pollen + Grace in 2015, at a time when the plant based, 'free-from' market was very uninspiring. I (Steph) was a chef previously, and when I was diagnosed with a bunch of intolerances, I didn't want that to stop me from enjoying food in the same way. I started preparing my own breakfast and lunch boxes for work, applying my chef background to new, healthy ingredients. My meals always got so much interest from my colleagues, and so the idea to fill that gap in the market was born.
How do you think about health in a holistic way from the gut to the body and mind?
I think we're both quite in tune with our bodies, and built our product range around the different requirements we sometimes have - a probiotic-rich option, low sugar option, digestion-friendly option, etc. When something feels a bit out of balance, we turn to our diets to realign. In terms of the mind, exercise is such an important part of our weekly routines, it provides the perfect mental break and we prioritise it when we can.
What opportunities and obstacles have you faced building a fitness/wellness company?
Endless amounts of both - for every high there's always a low. In terms of opportunities, having the support of every stockist we have is by far the biggest. At the beginning, we were often told that our gluten free, plant based meals were too niche, but now we're stocked in supermarkets across the UK.
As for obstacles, when you manufacture your own products, they occur on a daily basis. It's always a bit of a balancing act to make sure everything runs smoothly and our products make it out of the kitchen and onto the shelves. We've definitely had a few obstacles that almost seemed too big to overcome, but belief/determination in what we're trying to achieve has pushed us through.
How do you promote well-balanced deliciousness in your food and your lifestyles?
As a business, and individuals, we're big believers of 80/20. Everything in moderation. And the same goes for our meals; if you're having a Pollen salad for lunch and pizza for dinner, we want both to be just as enjoyable! We're also big advocates of making nutrition as fun as we can through our packaging, and love to talk about the benefits our meals provide. For example, our chia pudding breakfast pots provide more than 100% of your daily recommended intake of Omega-3 (which helps to keep your skin healthy!). We find this stuff so interesting and hope it helps our customers to see a meal as more than just something to keep you full.
How do you create a daily wellness or self care routine?
Our work schedules are pretty hectic so this probably isn't our forte, but we always try to make time for exercise - whether it's a morning run in the summer or a workout class in the evening. I think home environment is important too (and not mentioned enough in regards to wellness) - having a calm, relaxing space to go home to makes all the difference!
How do sustainability and natural ingredients influence your decisions?
They're the two factors our business (and personal lives) revolve around basically, and they definitely go hand in hand. We're always searching for the highest quality ingredients and don't cut corners to save costs where other businesses might. We're also a zero-to-landfill business, operate as a zero food waste business model, and we are constantly searching for the most eco-friendly packaging options. We often get called out for using plastic, but in the bigger picture it's currently one of the better options. 5 years ago, we definitely wouldn't predict we'd one day get so excited talking about the UK's recycling infrastructure!
We believe that what we put inside our bodies impacts how we look and feel on the outside. Thoughts?
We couldn't agree more! We work with an amazing naturopath, Anastasia, and she helps the Pollen team with every ailment from feeling bloated to a skin outbreak or low energy. And low and behold, it always comes back to diet and what we've been eating (although stress is quite the culprit, too). Our bodies, diet and lifestyle are SO interlinked!
What’s one motto you live by?
Maybe not the most inspirational, but 'just vibe it out'. Running a business means problems are thrown at us daily, a lot of which we've never dealt with before nor have any idea how to deal with. This motto of ours has definitely helped get us through the last 5 years and really sums up what it's like to start a business.
What advice do you have for female entrepreneurs and aspiring leaders?
If you want to start a business, just do it! If you wait until your concept and designs are perfect, you'll be waiting forever. Also, be humble and open to learn from any opportunity that comes your way. Don't be afraid to reach out to more established businesses for advice. There's so much power in connection and an openness to learning.
Ohana Wellness Festival was on International Women’s Day, we were excited to celebrate women around us. What female leaders inspire you? How do you support women around you?
We're most inspired by the team of women we work with every day. Pollen + Grace is a predominantly female team, and nothing makes us happier than seeing them excel and strive in their careers. Our GM and Executive Chef Linda for example, gets up at 4am every day to work out before her son wakes up, then comes to work and manages a team of 20+ with so much energy and enthusiasm. Our team is definitely our biggest motivator to make Pollen + Grace a success!
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