Inspiration: Livia’s Kitchen

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Name: Olivia Wollenberg, from Livia’s Kitchen

Where do you live? North London

What sparked your interest in health and wellness? After being diagnosed with intolerances to foods such as wheat, dairy and preservatives I had to entirely change the way I ate. In order to become excited about this diet and lifestyle change, I had to find a way of making it interesting and maintainable. I started to read blogs for recipe inspirations, and after keeping to a clean diet for only a few weeks, I felt so much better in myself. The biggest difference I found was in my energy levels. I was able to fit MORE activities and work into my days, and this encouraged me to keep up this lifestyle.

How did you build your passion for healthy living into a business? It was after seeing how much better I felt in myself from eating well, and how easy it was to keep up that I became passionate about spreading the word. Not only did I want to send an important message, but I also wanted to create a tangible product that people could buy in order to make healthy living a little easier. My passion for healthy living was only very new when I decided to start a company based on it. Something I had loved for much longer than healthy living was desserts. The challenge was how to combine the two since they seem slightly contradictory to each other. I saw this challenge as a hugely exciting and enticing one, and knew that it could be achieved. I have worked for about 18 hours a day, every day over the last year to build this business. I would say that it is equally as important to love what you do as it is to be prepared to work hard. Working this hard, and having to make sacrifices on other parts of my life has never been difficult because healthy living truly is one of my main passions. I feel better than I have ever done before without ever having to diet or restrict myself. I strive to be part of the movement that pushes people away from skinny to strong. I aim to show people that the sweeter things in life can be enjoyed in a healthier way.livia-2a

Where did the crumble obsession come from? Crumble is one of those desserts which I have always associated with cosyness and family. It is such a traditional, British dessert and something I would have always chosen from a menu at a restaurant. The idea to put a nutritional twist on the traditional crumble was not a planned one. I simply was experimenting with a whole host of desserts and for a big family dinner, I prepared a crumble which was inspired by one of Ella’s recipes from her blog. It went down a treat at that dinner, which gave me the idea of doing something with it. I then spent days in the kitchen trying out different flavour combinations, and that is really where my love affair with crumbles began. Everything I tried, I loved, and I was just certain that these were a product that everyone would love too. What I really love about my range of crumbles is that they are very different from the traditional ones. Instead of being made with ingredients such as flour, butter and sugar, I use ingredients such as oats, nuts , coconut oil and maple syrup. These crumbles are delicious cold as well as hot, so do not necessarily need to be heated before eating. What I am especially obsessed with about these crumbles is that they make amazing breakfast options as well as desserts. I LOVE the crumbles for breakfast with some coconut yoghurt and some berries. They are perfectly filling and provide amazing nutritional value for the rest of the day.

What has been the hardest part of starting a new business? Eek! That is a hard question, because in all honesty there have been a lot of hurdles to overcome, and some quite difficult times in my journey so far. However, I think that it would be unrealistic to think that you could start a business without stumbling over such hurdles, and it is how they are overcome which is important. For me, what I have found most difficult in starting a business is the inability to ever really be able to switch off. I became so immersed into the world of Livia’s Kitchen and was working for so many hours a day on it that a few months ago I started to feel quite overwhelmed and exhausted. I realised at that stage how important it is when starting a business to learn the skill of delegation and to start depending and relying on others more. It was at that point when I took on two full time employees and it has been a total game changer. I have two of the most reliable and committed girls working for me now, and after training them well, they have been able to take a lot of the workload off from me. This has enabled me to have a little more time for socialising and relaxing, which is so important. I have just taken a 10 day holiday where I truly switched off and re-charged and that is all because I had been able to pass responsibility onto my employees. So… I would say to anyone with a new business that although delegation and letting others do tasks for you is one of the hardest parts of starting a business, there will inevitably come a time where it is essential and the better you are at it, the more likely you are to succeed. Not one person can do everything, and this is where I went wrong. It is so crucial to always make time for yourself and the important people in your life, and I am so happy to be able to do this a little more now since I have mastered the act of delegation.

 What has been the most fun part of starting a new business? Again, this is such a hard question since the fun never really ends when you embark on an adventure like this. I would probably say that one of the most fun parts for me has been the friendships that have evolved from it. All my crumble elves (the girls who have helped me with baking) have become great friends and we have had some of the most fun times together in the kitchen. I also love being able to interact with my fans and customers through social media and events. There is nothing more worthwhile than hearing that you are making a positive difference to people.

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 What is your biggest achievement so far? There is nothing quite like the feeling of transforming ideas and dreams into reality. The sense of achievement I felt when Selfridges expressed interest in being the first stockist of my crumbles back in October 2014 was enormous. Then actually seeing the crumbles in the Selfridges Food Hall, and on the shelves of some of my other shops such as Daylesford and Planet Organic filled me with so much happiness. I love that I have been able to create something for others to enjoy.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business? As I said above, I think it is so important to love what you do. When it is your own business, it truly becomes your baby. You have to nurture it in every way and dedicate so much time to it and so it would be such a shame to not love it. Learning how to delegate and make time for yourself is also so important. The main piece of advice I would give to someone who is looking to start a business is that you have to be brave, you have to take risks, and you have to be able to take criticism and pick yourself up quickly if you fall. Obstacles prop up every day, and it is how you overcome the hurdles and the difficulties that will determine if you succeed. When it is your own company, it is so hard to not get down when things go wrong, but it is so important to always focus on the solution of those problems and on the positives. Staying optimistic is key, and recognising that making mistakes is okay is also important. 

Who inspires you? My Dad has been a huge inspiration to me and he is one of the reasons why I chose to go into business. He is the founder of a company, and has the most amazing business mind. He is able to tackle problems with the most logical and clear mind, and he has guided me on how to always remain calm and strategic. His determination to succeed inspires me to do the same.

Favourite quote? “Better an oops than a what if” 

What’s your typical…

Breakfast: Porridge

Lunch: A salad packed full of veg and mostly always with protein such as chicken, tuna or quinoa

Snack: One of my sweet bites or a piece of fruit.

Dinner: Brown rice risotto, quinoa stir fry.

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What’s your favourite dessert? That is simply too hard for me to answer having the sweet tooth that I have.

What’s the best recipe you’ve ever made? Ohhhhh, I have made so many delicious sweet recipes recently that it is too hard to choose. I share these recipes with everyone on my blog so you can keep up to date with my recipes there! If I HAD to say I would probably say the raw frosted chocolate brownies. I love their deep chocolate flavour and gooeyness!

Where do you get the inspiration from to create so many awesome recipes? Other people’s blogs and recipes initially gave me so many ideas of how to bake in a healthier way. The fun that I have experimenting in the kitchen and the creations that come from it inspire me to carry on. A lot of the time it is trial and error, but that is what makes it even better when I get a recipe right!

What are the ingredients you can’t live without? Oats and dates

Where are your favourite places to eat? I love Nama and Ethos. 

What do you do to stay active? I spin at Psycle 3 times a week and also try to do a few body combat classes each week too.

What is your beauty routine? I have to say that I don’t really have one! When I am at home or in the kitchen I would very rarely wear make up.

Do you have any favourite natural skin care products or awesome beauty recipes? I am just totally obsessed with coconut oil. I use it as a moisturiser and also an overnight conditioner for my hair.

Where’s your favourite place in the world? New York. I love the buzz.

What makes you happy? Family, friends and food. Oh…. And sun!

Describe your perfect day. I love summer, and would adore to live by the sea. My perfect day would be a typical summer holiday day which would usually consist of a morning work out, and then a long stretched out day with delicious meals and quality time with the people I am with. These days, a perfect day would also involve doing something work related as I love to stay on top of things and always want to feel that I have achieved something for work each day.

Do you have any favourite tips and tricks to stay healthy and happy everyday? I just think it is so important to listen to your body and do what makes you feel your best. What may be right for one person, may not be right for another and so it is in dangerous to compare yourself to others. I also think that everything has to be done in moderation. Often when people try to be healthy, they start quite restricted regimes and diets, and I think that they are often so hard to maintain. If you allow yourself to have some flexibility in what you eat and make what makes you feel good exciting then it is so much easier to keep up.

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