StyleNest chat to Rose Lloyd Owen, founder of Peardrop, about her transition from a ten year career in Media to pursuing her dream and starting up her own food business. We find out about her inspirations and aspirations, the challenges she’s overcome, and what an average day is like in her kitchen.
After a ten year career in media you started Peardrop in a kitchen in Notting Hill and haven’t looked back since. How did you make that transition and what do you love most about running your own business?
A friend of mine came around for dinner one January evening and, unsurprisingly given the time of year, she was trying to be healthy. I threw together a salad with lots of delicious seasonal ingredients and she mentioned how she wished she could get something similar at work. Suddenly there it was, an idea for a business and it was all I could think about. I would have quit my job that week, if my friends and family hadn’t persuaded me to slow down and save up a little to invest in the idea.
I really do love being my own boss, I have always been naturally bossy and it’s great to have complete control over the concept.
After your light bulb idea, what did you do next and how did you go about pursuing your dream and setting up your food business?
From the moment I thought of it, I obsessed over the business as if nothing else existed. I started to plan the details and talk to as many people as I could. This was really helpful in making contacts and a form of market research, and to prove that there was an audience for a healthy food service.
What was the inspiration behind the Peardrop name and brand?
The name was harder than I expected to come up with; originally I toyed with ‘Delicious Deliveries’. It was whilst buying ingredients in the rain one day that the thought of ‘raindrops’ led to thinking of lunch ‘drops’. It eventually evolved into ‘Peardrops’ which represents the ‘drops’ and the green & healthy nature of my food.
You’ve been known to cater for fashion designers like Alice Temperley, Stella McCartney and Hugo Boss, can you tell us about one of the most exciting projects you have been commissioned to work on?
All of the above were hugely exciting, to cater for some of the biggest names in fashion. Another of my early projects was an Alexandra Schulman & David Bailey ‘Q and A’ for the Stardust exhibition in the National Portrait Gallery. It is really interesting when there is a creative concept, sometimes at events entire sets are created. A big budget is fun too, as there are no limitations on what we can create.
You set up Peardrop with the profit you made from making and selling Christmas jumpers. You are clearly very entrepreneurial, did you always imagine you would one day run your own business?
I think it runs in the family, my brother, mother and father have all set up businesses. I actually thought it wasn’t for me though, until I got a taste of the entrepreneurial spirit and it opened my eyes to the possibility. I found it so fulfilling to create something people wanted & see it making them happy.
When you created a Victoria sponge for Arcadia and Instagrammed it, you got three requests for similar cakes. What have you found useful in spreading the word and finding new customers, and how have you grown your business since it launched?
I am lucky that I am working in food, where people naturally ask the source. A lot of business has come from word of mouth and leaps of faith. Before my first event I had never made canapés before but everything turned out really well and it led to another two party bookings.
Instagram is obviously great, as food is so visual and it’s fun too. I feel for my dad who has started a linen business, there are only so many ways you can Instagram those.
What has been the most challenging part of setting up Peardrop and what has been the hardest thing you’ve had to do so far? What advice would you give to our readers who want to set up their own business?
I think it has been a huge learning curve, I started off catering for 50 lunches and now cater for hundreds at events. I think the hardest part is learning to relax when I have time off and separate myself from work. I always find myself mentally estimating a quote or planning a new menu.
My advice would be to always believe in your product one billion percent and don’t worry about money at first. Definitely don’t expect it to be easy but don’t be afraid to seek advice. Finally, don’t worry if you feel like you’re making it up as you go along, everyone is.
What have you found the hardest thing to get used to?
The unpredictability of London traffic, it can play havoc with a well-planned event.
What do you love most about your new life and career?
Working for something I believe in and being my own boss. I especially love the creative side, and there is something profoundly satisfying about making people happy with something you made.
What are you most proud of?
The team I have supporting me, I couldn’t have done it without them. Their positive outlook and can-do attitude is inspiring.
Who inspires you and why?
So many people, anything and everything, I am always searching for inspiration. Specifically, Jamie Oliver makes great food and Green Stories Kitchen are wonderful for vegetarian options.
In a few sentences, can you tell our readers what an average day is like?
Every day is a little different today for example I got up at 6am to work on quotes for upcoming event. I then prepared up to 50 lunches and dropped them off for a meeting, then went onto a press launch to prepare and serve lunch for a further 50. In the afternoon I had a meeting to discuss a really big event next year. Finally back to the kitchen in Acton to clean up/prep and plan for a themed dinner the following night. Only time for supper of leftovers with a friend, which is just what I feel like.
You freshly prepare beautiful and unprocessed food daily in your Portobello kitchen, what inspires your recipes and how far in advance do you plan what you’re going to make?
It really depends on the event and what is in season, plus I like to add spontaneous dishes if I find a great ingredient, so all my plans are flexible.
Initially embarking on a local lunch delivery service, PearDrop’s aim was to offer interesting and nutritious food made with seasonal and sustainable ingredients without scrimping on taste. Since then Peardrop has evolved into a fully-fledged go-to food service catering for anything from intimate suppers to after-show parties for international fashion houses and celebrity press launches. What’s next for PearDrop?
Short term, I am curating a one day concept health festival Fare Healthy with Paradise by way of Kensal Green, taking place on Saturday 24th January. It will be a collective approach to training body, mind and soul presented by the likes of Hemsley + Hemsley, Deliciously Ella and Skinny Bitch Collective.
In the long term, I would love to open a small café where people could order healthy, sugar free and gluten free food for breakfast or lunch. It would be called Pearshop and I’m hoping that there are some investors out there who share the dream.