Posts tagged business
The journey of Wholeplus... (a birthday reflection)

Facebook reminded me of this picture this morning.

This still gives me tingles every time I see it... I can't believe this is five years ago already.

As I reflect this morning I realise how the journey of Wholeplus is such a powerful reflection of my own personal evolution. So I decided to write it down.

WP launch May2013.jpg

It all began as a tiny spark of an idea off the back of a challenge from a trainer at the gym I go to. I was complaining about the junk filled protein bars that so many people eat after a gym work out intended to better their health. It makes me sad. "Oh right, you try and make something better then" he said, ..."Ok, I will", I responded and I remember feeling surprised by the sense of my inner commitment so deep I knew I would follow through.

And just like that Wholeplus was born.

From the naivety of my curious mind, I had absolutely no idea what lay in store.

I began designing everything from scratch. The branding, the website, the promotional materials, the packaging, the social media growth, the recipes developments ... all my own creation and hours of time experimenting, learning and implementing the technicalities.

It has all evolved so much since.

I originally began with four product lines in three flavours each- the first one being a vegan protein-based product and the second product being tiny cubes (bliss ball style). I spent hours and hours pressing mixture into metal trays and cutting up literally thousands of small cubes with a huge double ended knife. (sore hands!)

November 2013

November 2013

First packaging of the protein product. May 2013

First packaging of the protein product. May 2013

First branding (cringe!!)

First branding (cringe!!)

Over the following 18 months I refined my processes and whittled it down to two products lines in a wider range of flavours - the Hotpots and the Toppers. The Hotpots (instant porridge sachets) were the last to be let go at the end of 2016 due to practicalities of production. They were popular and I still hope to bring them back one day when the time is right.

I forged ahead with the Toppers. The creative sweet sprinkle topping.

From 2014-16 I had loads of orders coming through. It was the time when the subscription box model was newborn and the more I was featured, the more other companies found me and wanted to feature me too.

Then, I got a big Wholesale white label order which brought in a consistent income every other month. This was followed by my biggest order to date. 3000 tubs of Toppers shipped to Germany on a pallet. I had no idea what I was doing, seriously winging it and saying yes to life. In the lead up to that delivery, the entire house was taken up with boxes of product lining the hallway almost floor to ceiling. I employed my dad to help me.

Life was in flow...

Then in late 2016 things slowed dramatically, the subscription box model changed and they no longer paid brands for their product but instead pitched it as a 'free marketing opportunity'. That was a massive game changer for me as there was no way it was viable anymore and it was no longer an income source.

Until that point I had done no real networking or marketing off my own back- everyone had come and found me and I was just riding that wave and creating, creating, creating... I didn't know how to do it on my own!

I paid hundreds of pounds for consultations with the best in the food industry. Getting advice from as many sources as I could find, trying my best to network even though I hate small talk and 'businessy' environment. I felt increasingly overwhelmed as it was all so far out of my comfort zone and relied heavily on investment. I had already spent most of my own savings paying thousands of pounds in buying the food processing equipment I needed to get up and running.

In early 2017 I took some time out to reflect.

What did I want from the business? How did I want it to grow? What did it mean to me? How did I want to be involved in it over the long term?

I knew I was passionate about health, about personal empowerment, about inspiring creativity in others... but how could I channel this into a food product?

I came up with a subscription box model of my own. A monthly delivery box that would feature recipe cards, motivational quotes and build a sense of community over time. The concept was beautiful and I put hours into designing the product and testing the process with customers.

Subscriprion box concept

Subscriprion box concept

But the promotion was hard and laborious. The physical production was now also taking its toll after years all on my own. It drained me and things slowed to a halt before it ever really got started.

For a few months I put it all on the back burner, needing a total break. Then out of the blue an acquaintance asked if I'd be willing to sell the business... my reaction suprised me. 'No, it's my baby, it's my passion, how could I ever sell it!'

That realisation kicked me back into action.

I had no idea how I was going to do it, but somehow I would. But I knew it woudn't be on my own. The Wholeplus philosophy is so much greater than me, it's message needs to be shared with the world, but I cannot do that alone. I needed focus on my skillsets and bring on others to fill in the gaps.

So it re-awakened.

But then there was the packaging dilemma. I was using plastic tubs that I had been unhappy about for a long time. I now had so many boxes of packaging options i'd tried, it was taking over half a room in space. I had been designing and printing all my labels at home on my trusty inkjet to save massive costs and minimum order quantities, but that just wasn't good enough for me any more if I wanted to take this bigger and better...

In January this year I opened up a blank Word document and on it I wrote up a list of 'titles' of people I wanted on board, with me as 'Creative Director'. I kept this in the back of mind in every conversation I had, knowing when the opportunity showed up I would just know.

It happened.

Just yesterday I had a long meeting with the owner of a gym and food business. Someone I have come to know well, someone who complements my skill sets, someone who has the resources for production and investment already set up, and most importantly someone who shares my philosophies.

He proposed moving forward as joint venture, to scale and take things as big as they deserve to be. The idea immediately energised me and I felt a rush of relief, "I'm not alone in this anymore".

We have another meeting to talk details next week. 

On the eve of my 35th birthday, the next chapter in the Wholeplus journey is taking shape.

There are so many times I almost quit. There are times when thing slowed to a bare crawl and it would have been easier to have packed it all up and filed it under a 'learning experience' and channeled my energy elsewhere.

But something still tells me to keep going. Something deep down tells me this will be worth it. Something tells me this has been evolving with me in the just the way it needed to, waiting for it's moment, waiting until the world is ready, waiting until I am ready.

Now I am ready.

jo sign off.png
 
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The 'business' of wellness.... have our heads taken over our hearts?

I’m not really sure where this blog post is coming from, I have a feeling it’s been brewing for a while. I can however tell you precisely what triggered me to sit down and write these words right here and now.

When I saw the Mail On Sunday ‘You’ Magazine sitting in my mum’s coffee table this morning with a cover image of Natasha Corrett as the ‘Queen of green’, I was eager to delve into reading the article…

However I quickily became a bit shouty which surprised me as I am not typically an opinionated person. I’m usually the type to sit on the sidelines and watch others debate, not because I don’t have my own thoughts, but because I am pretty good at seeing a situation from various angles or playing devils advocate in a given situation regardless of my own views. 

I think it’s more  growing sense of frustration that had triggered this outburst, not so much the article itself. Please understand that I have nothing specifically against Natasha herself (and totally appreciate the media’s habit of skewing perspective) indeed I follow her Instagram account and to be honest, anyone who is helping to change people’s eating habits for the better, in whatever form that may take is a good person in my eyes. That said… 

I hate the way ‘clean eating’ and ‘superfoods’ (I have begun to hate those words but can’t find better ones so bear with me!) have been become a social status, a fashion accessory, a sex symbol, a competition, and a money making opportunity at every turn…

I follow many wellness and foodie accounts on Instagram, and whilst I love the platform for it I am beginning to hate the flawless feminine perfection I feel is it fast becoming associated with. A green juice held by a long dainty hand with perfectly lacquered nails and a carefully positioned bracelet... for example!

I point the finger at no-one in particular, this is simply a growing sense of unease within me. 

So many of the highly successful entrepreneurs of the healthy eating revolution began their crusade off the back of healing their own health issues… for that I have deep admiration and endless respect and always will. 

BUT then it soon seems to shift, a subtle sneaky shift by the lure of the media as it soon becomes a money making game. Tapping into the widening gap in the UK market, tapping into the need and sometimes desperation of so many health conscious people looking for an answer. Any answer. 

There in a lot of vulnerability in the health and wellness arena. A lot of people looking for answers from the outside yet failing to look within for their own truth. Often women, often looking to rebuild their own confidence and sense of self along the way.

As a health & life coach this terrifies and worries me… the message is becoming skewed, with added pressure and ideologies of the elite lifestyle to live up to. An external visual representation of good health does NOT directly indicate an internal emotional level of good health. 

Looking good on the outside does not immediately equate to feeling good on the inside. Of course the two can and do go hand in hand. This is what we should all be striving for and nutritional plays a huge role, arguably the biggest role. YET I feel this is also the realm of huge misdirection of keeping up appearances, of ticking boxes and not asking the WHY, HOW, WHAT of our own personal health journies.

My own health journey has sure evolved and shifted over the last year or so as I have done a lot more inner work and asked deeper questions of myself. I will share this with you more in a separate post once I've better collated my thoughts.

I hate the way ‘clean eating’ has become portrayed as elitest...

The notion that it is expensive is not helped at all by this new wave of media coverage and fashion icon status. Yes I do use various specialist ingredients myself and I buy organic whenever I can… BUT I aim create recipes largely using the basics. Simple, time efficient, plant based recipes using cupboard ingredients with some of the ‘extra special ingredients’ thrown in or at times when I want to get a little creative. When I do use special ingredients, I use them time and time again in different recipes and so there will never be that situation of buying an expensive ingredient and having it sitting forlorn in the cupboard for ever more.

For me, the innate curiosity in exploring your own health journey through the mind/body connection is lost when we look to the outside for a leader or an identity to emulate. We loose ourselves.

I also hate the growing business focus of wellness. Ok, let’s be clear here that I’m totally cool with making money… it makes total sense that our efforts should reap a financial reward. I also appreciate that this is large part my own personal viewpoint since I am simply not a money minded individual, it’s not what makes me tick. I’d like as much as I need to live a comfortable life but nothing more. Other people have different financial priorities and that’s cool too.

My frustration comes when the INTENTION behind the push for health and wellness comes from the head and not the heart. I feels to me as though that is where many enterpreneurs have got caught up along the way as the clean eating phenomenon has hit the UK like a whirlwind these last few years.

As a coach and also a heath food business owner myself, my fundamental drive above and beyond anything else is to help people. Help people to get curious to explore their own unique wellless journey.

I write my Including Cake blog (and have been doing so for 4 years) that does not directly bring me a single penny of income- no advertising or ongoing affiliations. I do it because I love it and want to serve you and because it acts as my own creative outlet that I want to share. 

I run Wholeplus, my food business that I personally execute at every level from the website to the graphics to the marketing to the labelling to the production of the product mix to the packaging and ultimately dispatch of course I could outside much of this and grow the business hugely, but I choose not to as I want full control to ensure the brand stays true to me and my connection with my customers. 

A believe that  a business in health in wellness should be lead from the heart and not the head.

I think deep down this is why the article in the MOS made me a little shouty. There is seemingly so much competition and bitchiness behind the scenes in the wellness lifestyle environment fiercely dominated by women. These two extracts from the article made me particularly sad: 

“it’s clearly a competitive field, and Natasha is jealously protective of her patch. ‘For me, its about being the first to do something’ she says”.

“earlier she had complained about rivals stealing her sweet potato brownie recipe, which happens to be the most read recipe on Deliciously Ella, ‘I was the fist person to do that, now everyones got a sweet potato brownie recipe, so I always have to come up with new ideas”.

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For me the fundamental aim of a proponent of health and wellness is to live a life of passion and through that truly inspire others to take small steps towards a healthier life, wherever they may be at. It is also a huge opportunity to stand together and unite in wellness, recognising there is enough room in the arena for us each to play a part from a business standpoint yet still be there to support each other as a growing unity in the world.

Really... is this too much to ask?

People like Jamie Oliver, whilst maybe being further from my own food philosophy that many of those in the ‘clean eating revolution’ inspires me daily with his pure passion and drive to connect with the people. Real people at every level of society. He shows up in life, rough and ready, full of passion, full of his truth and full of heart.

Ok, I’m done now. If you've read this far I am truly humbled. I feel as though maybe i’ve rambled and maybe I could have put my point across in fewer words, but I needed to vent in this space. My space. I wanted to be honest and open and vulnerable.

I have no idea what reactions this will cause… positive? Negative? Indifference? This is unknown territory for me to verbalise thoughts like this in the public realm and so writing this is a hugely vulnerable experience for me. But it’s how I encourage you so show upon the world. From your heart and your truth. And so I lead by example with mine.

 




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