She’s one of those women in the health food industry who has followed her passion, made it happen, grown a business, makes us drool over her recipes and shares insightful, funny Instagram Stories along the way… It’s an absolute pleasure to interview one of my inspirations and idols, Olivia aka founder of the hugely successful Livia’s Kitchen brand. I hope you enjoy reading this post as much as I did when I got her answers back!
WHERE IT ALL STARTED
Hi Olivia, thanks for taking the time to chat, I know you’re a super busy bee! Let’s start from the beginning – where did your interest in health and food come from?
After 5 years of studying Psychology and Neuroscience at UCL, I changed direction and decided to embark on a business entrepreneurship course. Around this time, I was suffering from a lot of pain around my eating to I decided (very apprehensively) to see a nutritionist and get a full understanding of what was going on. Having to cut out all of my favourite treats due to my intolerances is what led me to start the Livia’s Kitchen Crumble journey. This is really where my interest in food stemmed from, as I wasn’t willing to compromise on my teatime treats.
What sort of foods did you grow up eating and how has this influenced your work?
Sweet treats, honey cake, chocolate bars, cheese – you name it I ate it.
You were diagnosed with intolerances in 2014 – how did this impact your diet, lifestyle and relationship with food?
After visiting a nutritionist and being put on the FODMAP diet, my whole life changed. I had to say goodbye to my favourite treats and attempt to create something delicious out of very few ingredients. After discovering that food could be delicious without all of the additives, it became a very enjoyable and different experience of eating, which ultimately led me to creating my Crumbles.
BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR
You were planning to go into a career in academia – what made you want to change direction into the world of business?
My diet changed and so did my mind-set. I saw a gap in the market and I wanted to fill it with my sweet treats with a nutritious twist.
Livia’s Kitchen has successfully launched a range of healthy treats in stores nationwide, congrats! How did you go about getting your products on the shelf; what were the first steps?
This is a very long and exciting process. We started by creating and developing the products in my parent’s kitchen, followed by a lot of driving around, delivering endless boxes of crumbles to anyone who would take them. I was very lucky and managed to get them into the hands of the Selfridges buyer before packing designs had even been completed. The Raw Millionaire Bites and Biccy Boms took just as long, you have to be patient as it can be a lengthy process but it is worth it when you finally see them on the shelves, it’s a pinch me moment every time!
What have been some of the challenges along the way?
Where do I start? There have been so many challenges! They range from packaging disasters to ingredients and then everything in between. At the time each obstacle seems like the biggest, but when I reflect on how far the company has come, it’s amazing to see what we have achieved.
If you could give one piece of advice for anyone looking for a career change, what would it be?
Don’t do what you think is expected of you. Do something that you are passionate about and are willing to spend all of your time doing (I am often up at 3am thinking about the next day). You need to make sure you are committed but also have an amazing support system to keep you on track.
Could you share any insights or sneak peeks into future plans for Livia’s Kitchen? 😉
I wish I could! We have so many exciting things in the pipeline, which I think you will really enjoy! Unfortunately at this stage I cant reveal the details, but keep your eyes open for announcements on my Instagram!
Where do you get inspiration from for your delicious recipes and products?
Most of the recipe inspiration comes from visiting restaurants, different countries cuisine and recreating our favourite childhood treats.
There must be times where ideas don’t quite work out – can you share any disasters in the kitchen?
More than you can imagine! So often things turn out completely different from how we expect, sometimes these work out and we can change the name of the recipe, other times they are a complete disaster. Last week we were making a cake and it collapsed in front of our eyes without warning, it was hilarious but also annoying!
How do you discover alternative ingredients or ways of re-creating traditional treats?
We spend a lot of time experimenting and trying things out, they don’t always work out well but sometimes they are even better than the traditional treats!
The health food industry is booming at the moment and body confidence seems to have a strong presence which is great – what are your personal thoughts on this and where do you see it going?
It’s great to see people addressing this issue, we shouldn’t criticise ourselves or anyone else! We should be celebrating what our bodies do for us every day, whether that’s getting you through a gym class, powering you through a day of meetings or simply taking a day off. Every small victory should be celebrated!
- Favourite band or artist – I’m loving Nu at the moment but I’ll always be a Beyonce fan at heart
- Best place visited in the world – Australia
- Food you couldn’t live without – Avocado
- Favourite film or TV programme – Stranger Things
- Peanut butter debate – smooth or crunchy? Smooth
A huge thanks to Olivia for taking the time to answer my questions – watch this space! 🙂