Vane and Dani creation VIDA Bakery have gained a massive following of sweet tooth lovers since starting out in 2015. They have been great supporters of Vevolution from day one so it was great to learn more about their story and inspirations.
To celebrate International Women's Week (yeah, we think it should be a week) and our upcoming Vevolution Topics: Entrepreneurs event on the 13th March we've created an IWD series where we've hand selected some inspiring entrepreneurial women to tell us their stories. This series is in collaboration with Badass Vegan Women.
How and why did you create Vida Bakery?
It all started 4 years ago with Dani (coeliac and vegan) in the kitchen desperate to make a snack that will stop her cravings. Back to 2014 there were not many GF/Vegan options offered in London so I believe Dani gave up and said ‘I’ll do it myself’
Of course when you create something for yourself you always make it your way, but you won’t eat something you don’t like 100%
I think she started to produce more than we could all eat, so she started to go to these plant-based picnics to share her cakes. I remember her coming home to tell me how everyone liked it, and sometimes she would arrive carrying prizes after winning all competitions.
I think at that point I went online and checked everything about free-from businesses. I realised how big the market was in the US. And I started to discover a decent size market in the UK as well, I thought we should have a free-from bakery for all those people who cannot have eggs, dairy and gluten. And we did.
That was how Vida Bakery was born.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
Before Vida I was having a food retail job in Canary Wharf. Nothing spectacular but I actually learnt a lot about food retail so I am very glad I had that job for two years.
I always wanted to have my own business so I was the kind of person who always saw a business opportunity out of EVERYTHING. Obviously, not all these opportunities where good or realistic. And then it was Vida.
Vida had something none of my other ideas ever had: an actual good product.
Dani created such an amazing range of products and we had so much good feedback that I thought “I finally have it, I finally have a real opportunity”
What five words would you use to describe your career path?
Plans. Decisions. Challenges. Preparation. Dedication.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
It is difficult to pick just one. I have to say Howard Schultz. I admire enormously the fact that he built something like Starbucks. Yes, Starbucks principal product is coffee, but it actually sells more than coffee. The way Schultz created the whole Starbucks experience is something everyone should at least know if they want to make a decent life out of the food retail business.
What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
The more you think about your business, the more you know about it, the more you plan it, the better. There is no need to rush when you have a plan of what you want your business to be. Some people out there will tell you, to do something without thinking too much and I will say the opposite, to me businesses are all about details and having everything on point.
For women entrepreneurs, what specific advice would you have for young women who would like to become an entrepreneur? Are there specific advantages, disadvantages to being a women business owner?
I will tell them to learn as much as they can about that thing they are passionate about.
Be the best at what you want to be.
Do a selling course (learn how to sell).
Believe you have the power to do anything you want to do, it does not matter where you come from or your background.
You will fail, that’s for sure, so always be prepare to come back stronger.
I think one of the ‘disadvantages’ I have faced in business is that some people won’t take you seriously because they think you cannot do what you are saying you will do. But it does not affect me, at the end of the day I do what I do for myself, not to please others.
We as women have the power to get rid of things we do not need SO QUICKLY.
What’s been the biggest obstacle in running and building your business?
Nothing in particular, I think the whole process is a learning process. It’s a challenge. Knowing where to start, what to do first, what after.
You have to read a lot, and learn about every single thing.
What drives you to work every day?
My dreams, my family and my friends
My dreams represent everything I want
My family represent my biggest motivation
And My friends everything else, what’s life without friends anyway
Vegan and plant-based food has grown significantly the past couple of years. Do you see other vegan cake companies as friends or competition?
Technically speaking most of them are competition. But competition is a good thing. I have to say I will be very glad the day I see more companies opening and taking bigger steps, because that means there is good business out there for all of us.
In the past some people would frown upon making money out of veganism. Being vegan business owners what are your thoughts on this?
This is a very sensible topic for much people. I have to begin to answer it by saying that I am not a vegan person. I eat vegan food. And the reason why I always clarify this is because I have met so many wonderful people all these years, I see their passion and commitment and that’s not who I am.
Having say that, I think we have to think about what we really want. If we want the world to eat less meat, then we need to support all efforts to make more meatless options, that taste good, look good and are easy to find.
We all know we need big retailers to display our products, so more people can see it and try it. Unfortunately the biggest retailers in the world are not vegan places and not owned by vegans. So If you think that way you know you need them anyway.
The same applies if you think about a street full of non-vegan restaurants, all of the sudden a big non-vegan company opens a plant-based restaurant. Why wouldn’t you support it? At the end of the day you are gaining spaces, you are getting exposure. And I think veganism needs both things.
How do you find inspiration?
I love reading about businesses. Either books or articles.
Also by listening to people. It might sound weird but I am a good listener, more than a talker.
What do you see as the future of vegan food innovation?
I have to say what Tesco did with the Sarno brothers was something very innovative for the UK, and it was much needed.
Another innovative thing that already happened was the opening of By Chloe in Soho.
I do wish the future looks a bit more like these two things.
Great tasty food that it is easy to find and convenient.
We need veganism to go to the main streets, to the main supermarkets, we still need more exposure.
Vegan food eaten by vegans it is not innovative, it is logical.
Who are some of your favourite inspiring female entrepreneurs?
Definitely Sheryl Sandbergh, Mary Barra, Angela Ahrendts, Susan Wojcicki and every single girl or woman out there who wakes up every day to make another day count and to make her dreams come true for herself.
What are your hopes for Vida Bakery in 2018 and the future?
With the opening of our first permanent shop coming very soon I reckon 2018 will be very exciting. I cannot wait until we open the doors.
Follow Vane + Dani via Vida Bakery's Instagram account and be inspired by all their beautful creations.
Keep an eye our blog for more interviews with inspiring plant powered women with our IWD Series to celebrate International Women's Day!