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It was really lovely to be asked by Holly Branson to take part in her series on entrepreneurship on virgin.com.
As a quick bit of background, I started at Virgin in 1996 as a kind of junior runner at Virgin Cola - it was a crazy, fun time in Virgin’s evolution and there were so many opportunities for intellectual, career growth - as well as getting inspiration from meeting creative, liberal, irreverent people. Richard always said, "with the right kind of people you can achieve anything", and it certainly felt that way.
Over the 17 years I worked in various brand roles and eventually rose up to become Group Brand Director of one of the most diverse brands on the planet. Every 10 minutes we were discussing how to apply our brand and marketing passions to a different industry sector and territory. Someone said it was like "brand yoga". I like to think I was entrusted with that top job for so long because one hopes I did it without too much ego or posturing, without stepping on others, rather by original thinking and hard work.
We worked out at Virgin that business needed to become a force for good. Virgin gave me the entrepreneurial bug to start my own business, and I wanted to do something good for society, to create a cool brand with a heart of gold. Looking at trends around the world I could see there was a gap for a really healthy socialising concept. Could it be launched in London? Could it be profitable? Could it make a positive contribution to society? Redemption was born. I knew I needed an industry expert and I eventually met Andrea who became my #workwife and now here we are, with 3 sites in London, a book, 2 products (detox tea and a candle) and heads bursting with ideas on how we can make it cool and sexy for people to do the right thing - whilst having fun.
This interview series with Holly actually turned out to be quite a personal one, I think because her questions were so insightful. So if you are interested in finding out what I have learned along my journey then please feel free to check it out here on virgin.com
top: me and Holly back in 2010 with some Virgin Stars winners at the Kensington Roof Gardens
below: me and Holly last month doing the interview
Redemption launched its third, flagship London site on Monday 17th December 2018. The double-sided bar and restaurant is located across 15 Short's Gardens and Neal’s Yard in the cool Seven Dials district, close to Covent Garden.
The menu, like that of the other sites in Notting Hill and Shoreditch, offers wholefood vegan gluten-free dishes that are low in natural unrefined sugars, created by co-founder and executive chef, Andrea Waters. The 45-cover restaurant is open for lunch and dinner with a different offering for both. Additionally, the new flagship site showcases an elegant take-away section, offering a stunning array of nutritious dishes where guests can build their own Buddha Bowl from a range of seasonal vegetables, fruit, pulse-based salads, nuts, seeds and homemade dips. Innovative new functional foods will also feature on the menu such as charcoal powder, pine pollen and medicinal mushrooms.
As well as Redemption’s delightful food offering, the world’s first alcohol-free cocktail bar offers a wide range of booze-less cocktails including: the pious pina colada; lychee and yuzu martini; frozen pineapple margarita and theRedemption Royale.There is also kombucha on tap and a selection of alcohol-free beers, wines and spirits.
The flagship launch has been perfectly timed to coincide with Redemption’s busiest month of the year - January - when even the most stubborn meat eaters reach for the plants and the most enthusiastic drinkers take a month or so off booze.
Redemption launched at a time when the plant-based food trend was in its infancy in the London restaurant scene. Fast-forward from its first pop up in 2014 to now and there has been a huge shift in the appetite of diners towards plant-based menus: a reported 360% increase in people eating a plant-based diet over the past 10 years. Veganuary, a nationwide campaign to move to a plant-based diet and spread awareness, grew by 183% in 2018, with 168,542 people signing up to go vegan.
Redemption’s alcohol-free offering has stayed true to its brand promise of ‘spoil yourself without spoiling yourself’ in a competitive market where alcohol sales are a known boost to many restaurant businesses. 27% of Britons say they are drinking more low- or no-alcohol drinks compared to a few years ago. This rises to 42% of consumers aged 18-24 and 45% of consumers aged 25-34. A sizeable 61% of Britons believe getting drunk is “uncool”.This new wave spurred on by campaigns like Dry January, all further put Redemption at the leading edge of this new wave of conscious socialising.
Come and check it out as soon as you can!
Ipsos MORI survey 2016
ONS data 2017