Say ‘hey’ to Olivia Wollenberg: neuroscientist, cardio-lover and business founder. That’s right. She’s the woman behind Livia’s Kitchen, a company that specialises in creating better-for-you treats. Everything they make is gluten, dairy and refined sugar free, with only natural ingredients.
She’s a busy gal, but we managed to sit down with her and chat about her business and her passions and how she keeps the balance, day in, day out.
In the beginning
‘Back in 2014, I founded Livia’s Kitchen. At the time, I was in my final year studying Neuroscience at UCL when I was diagnosed with a number of food intolerances. I love ALL things sweet, so giving up my favourite sugary treats just wasn’t something I was willing to do.’
‘However, I ended up suffering from so much pain every time I ate, and eventually got put on a FODMAP diet. It can be so difficult to make sudden, drastic changes to your diet and this was really something I really struggled with. It was made even harder when I discovered the confectionary market was clearly lacking indulgent and delicious treats which were free from the ingredients I could no longer eat.’
‘So, I made a #GirlBoss move: I saw an opportunity and grabbed it!’
‘I began writing my blog and started making better-for-you treats from my parents house before finding my own factory and move into my own office. It’s now four years down the line, and after a lot of hard work, we now have a fast-growing team looking after our delicious products – Biccy Boms, Nugglets and our Raw Millionaire Bites.’
Out of office
‘When I’m not dreaming up new product lines or dashing between business meetings, I still stay true to my foodie roots. I love to cook a lot and get creative with savoury dishes as well as sweet – believe it or not! I find cooking so therapeutic. I also love spending time with my family and baking with my nieces. Give me an opportunity to feed someone, and I’m happy!’
‘There’s never been a better time to make your mark in the food industry. However, you can’t underestimate how much hard work you’ll have to put in. A great piece of advice that’s stuck with me has been “Don’t pretend to know all the answers”. I’d honestly implore anyone who wants to start their own food business to seek advice from experts and soak it all up like a sponge! I also think one of the most important things about starting your own business is to make sure you enjoy what you are doing. When you end up working 15 hour days there is nothing worse than resenting it. Obviously you don’t love every minute of every day, but in order to commit and push through the hard days, you have to see that it will be worth it. If you aren’t in love with your own message then you will struggle to give it your all.’
‘Also, remember: your product can be amazing, but if your marketing isn’t up to scratch, no one is going to know about it! Social media has been an amazing marketing tool for me. It’s allowed me to show people behind the scenes and engage my audience in such a personal way. I think it’s so important to bring your customers on your journey and Instagram in particular has been great for this!’
‘After a really hectic week of working through the nights and long meetings I usually try and book a Deep Tissue Massage. I find them so relaxing and afterwards I genuinely feel like a new woman, ready to take on all the challenges the new week will throw at me!’
‘I don’t just practice self-care through massage though. I love working out. I’ve always been a fan of cardio but I’ve recently started trying to get into reformer pilates. And, when the gym or studio isn’t tickling my fancy I’m also a big believer in the power of retail therapy! After all, in life, balance is key!’