This month we are excited to introduce Stephanie and Kristina the founders of Londoners go-to lunch of choice Pollen + Grace. Pollen + Grace was founded in 2015 and makes 100% natural food-to-go, free from gluten, wheat and dairy. With a range of 17 products, spanning breakfast, lunch, hot pots and snack bars that never include preservatives but are always made by hand using the very best fresh ingredients. We met the lovely ladies at an event celebrating women in the business of wellness and we thought you would be as inspired by them as we were when we first met them.

Founders of pollen + grace Stephanie and Kristina wearing Asquith organic activewear

Kristina (left) wears our bamboo yoga leggings the Flow With it Leggings and our bamboo yoga top the Balance Bra Top. Stephanie (right) wears our bamboo yoga pants the Move It Leggings and our bamboo yoga top the Balance Bra Top. 

 

What was the inspiration for starting Pollen and Grace?

Stephanie: Four years ago, when I started Pollen + Grace, it was impossible to get a meal in London that was both gluten and dairy free, and still exciting. I was diagnosed with a bunch of intolerances but didn’t want this to stop me from enjoying food in the same way that I did before, but it meant having to prepare every meal at home. That’s how Pollen + Grace started – the lunches I was bringing into work from home got a lot of attention, to the point where I decided to quit my job and make them full-time.

 

How did you meet and what is it like to work with your friend?

We both worked together previously at Allegra Events. We had a lot of fun working together and travelled a lot for work so we got really close. When I started Pollen + Grace by myself (Stephanie), I was struggling a lot and bringing Kristina on board just seemed like the obvious choice. We’d both actually decided to leave our previous job at the same time, whilst on holiday together. I started Pollen + Grace and Kris took a sabbatical – when Kris returned I asked her to be my business partner, and we’ve never looked back!

What’s it like? Amazing. We can communicate without speaking and we know where the other is at without having to ask so we can support them in the best way. It’s great to have someone to go through the stress and pressures with, but it’s also important to make time to be ‘just friends’ and not business partners. We have regular date nights and holidays where we ban any work talk.

 

What’s the most important thing you have learnt from starting a business?

Everything will always be ok, even when you think there’s absolutely no possible way this one could work out.  At the start everything was really scary, whereas now you go through things that are far more scary but you just believe it will work out. Sometimes it doesn’t work out in the way you had hoped for, but life still continues!

 

What are you proudest of with ‘Pollen and Grace’?

Our amazing team – watching them grow within their roles is so rewarding.

 

If you were to describe your job in three words, what would they be?

Rewarding, stressful, diverse.

 

What’s has been the highlight of your career so far?

 When we meet someone who has heard of Pollen + Grace, it’s by far the most surreal thing, and a highlight every time. There’s also nothing better than getting messages and emails from people thanking us for creating products that they trust and can actually eat whilst managing their intolerances.

 

What do you love most about your job and why?

The constant challenge, there’s no such thing as being bored! I also love having full creative control – the perk of being your own boss is that there’s nobody to dictate how it’s done.

 

What were your dream jobs when you were younger? Did you ever think you would start your own business?

Stephanie: When I was really young, I wanted to be a TV chef (before I realised I hate being on camera). But once I was a little older my dream job was to do what I’m currently doing (although it’s certainly not as glamorous as I had imagined).

Kristina: I wanted to do the same as Indiana Jones when I was really young and then I wanted to be a ballerina – I’m pretty happy with how it turned out though!

Founders of pollen + grace Stephanie and Kristina wearing Asquith ethical activewear

Kristina (left) wears our bamboo yoga leggings the Flow With it Leggings and our bamboo yoga top the Balance Bra Top. Stephanie (right) wears our bamboo yoga pants the Move It Leggings and our bamboo yoga top the Balance Bra Top. 

How do you ensure you always stay true to your core? 

To be honest, it’s not something we’ve ever struggled with. We have very strong company values, and we know our boundaries when it comes to our products and how far we’re willing to go. Yes, life would be easier if we added preservatives or outsourced our manufacturing, but we’re not going to do that because we don’t believe it would be true to the brand and what we stand for.

 

We are obsessed with your Cherry and Almond Porridge Pot but what is your favourite product and why?

Thank you! This is definitely the hardest question, we love them all! For me (Stephanie) it’s probably the Fragrant Turmeric + Butternut Daal Pot – I always get excited when I know I have one for dinner

Kristina: I love the Kimchi + Miso Noodle Pot, it’s been my solid favourite ever since we launched it over a year ago.

 

We are so happy to see more and more people choosing healthier food options and the shift towards organic but where do you see the food industry going and why?

I think we’ll see more and more transparency from brands – people want to know exactly what they are eating and where their food has come from. The rise in vegan options will definitely continue to grow too, for both health and environmental reasons. And although it’s not the ‘food’ as such, we imagine there’s going to be a huge movement away from plastic and non-recyclable packaging – there’s still a lot of innovation that needs to happen on that front, but we’re excited to see where it goes.

 

How do you think we can educate people better on healthy eating?

I guess there’s two avenues: education in school should definitely touch more on basic nutrition – when I think back to what we were taught about nutrition, it was a very old-fashioned approach, but likewise their should be more education on why you should eat healthily – how it affects your gut/your energy levels etc rather than it being simply obesity prevention.

And it’s also the responsibility of companies – to not market something as healthy when it isn’t, or (preferably) to not put ‘bad’ stuff in the food in the first place. Yes, it makes it harder, but in the long run it would benefit everyone.

 

What does ‘wellness’ mean to you?

Balance. Wellness is as much about being 100% ok with drinking that glass of wine or eating the croissant as it is about having kale and quinoa for lunch and hitting a class after work. It’s about understanding what makes you feel your best and respecting that.

 

What are three things everyone should know to better their health?

  1. That everyone’s body functions differently – what works for one person may not work for you, so get to know your body!
  2. How to understand an ingredients list – what certain sugars and preservatives are listed as, navigating natural from not-so-natural.
  3. Basic cooking skills – a kitchen isn’t as daunting as a lot of people think, and cooking a delicious, healthy meal is really quite simple. Rule of thumb: if you add garlic, onion and a little bit of sea salt, it will usually taste pretty good.

 

What’s your favourite super food and why?

Stephanie: Probably spirulina  – it’s all encompassing nutrients-wise and works well in a smoothie when I feel I need a bit of a boost.

Kristina: Turmeric – whenever I’m feeling a little run down I make turmeric tea which is just turmeric powder, ginger, honey and hot water. It’s become a bit of an office staple through winter.

Founders of pollen + grace Stephanie and Kristina wearing Asquith organic activewear

Kristina (left) wears our bamboo yoga leggings the Flow With it Leggings and our bamboo yoga top the Balance Bra Top. Stephanie (right) wears our bamboo yoga pants the Move It Leggings and our bamboo yoga top the Balance Bra Top. 

 

Everyone practices yoga/Pilates for different reasons. When did you start and why?

Stephanie: I started yoga 10 years ago, but got really into it 8 years ago when I moved to London and found The Power Yoga Co. I went to an iridologist and they said I should start practicing to relieve stress. It’s the only thing that keeps me sane.

Kristina: Running is my yoga – it gives me time to myself, to clear my mind and focus solely on running and forget the stresses of the day.

 

Favourite yoga/Pilates pose and why?

 Stephanie: I love all arm balances because they’re really fun and make me feel like a kid. Specifically, Pinch Mayurasana (Feathered Peacock Pose)

 

What do you do in your downtime?

Stephanie: Hang out with my family and fiancé – we just moved to Hampstead and it’s a real escape from the hustle and bustle of the city so I like to stay local on the weekends, and take time off from the crazy. Hike, cook and chill!

Kristina: I spend most of my downtime with friends or my boyfriend, whether it’s going to the local markets, going out for dinner or travelling. I also love exercise, so my weekends always involve some form of exercise – I recently did Tough Mudder which was fun!

 

Where do you go to ground yourself?

Stephanie: My fiancé grew up on a dairy farm in Ireland, and it’s our favourite escape – it’s in the middle of nowhere and the hikes are the best.  We’re currently building a house out there so we try to go over about once a month.

Being near water always helps to ground me, so going for a run along the Thames always helps. Going home to visit my family in Slovakia is always pretty restorative too – it’s good to escape London regularly.

 

What are three things you can’t live without?

Stephanie: Exercise. Kris. Coffee.

Kristina: My family. Steph. Tomatoes.

 

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Just start.When we launched Pollen + Grace the branding/packaging was far from ‘perfect’ but we got it on the shelves and we’ve grown with it ever since. It ends up being quite a nice story when you’ve had people follow you from the first box to current day.

 

What is your single piece of advice to the next generation of women?

Life will pay you what you ask of it – don’t compromise, believe in yourself.

 

Who is your ‘Wow Woman’?

Stephanie:My mum Hazie has been part of Pollen + Grace since the get-go and is now head of ‘team happiness’. She’s an absolute star and such a caring person. Growing up with such a strong, female role model has definitely played a huge role in who I am today.

 

If you could only live in one item of Asquith clothing what would it be?

The amazing leggings from the shoot – they’re so unbelievably comfortable!!

(Stephanie wears our bamboo yoga leggings the Flow With It Leggings. Kristina wears our bamboo yoga pants the Move It Leggings.)

Founders of pollen + grace Stephanie and Kristina wearing Asquith ethical activewear

Kristina (right) wears our bamboo yoga leggings the Flow With it Leggings and our bamboo yoga top the Blissful Wrap. Top. Stephanie (left) wears our bamboo yoga pants the Move It Leggings and our bamboo yoga top the Go To Vest. 

Pollen + Grace is now available Nationwide on Ocado and in various London-based stockists including Whole Foods, Selfridges, Planet Organic and Harrods. 

Find our more about Pollen + Grace and their delicious food here; www.pollenandgrace.com

 

 

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