From one girl boss to another meet Kara Rosen, CEO and founder of Plenish – one of the biggest (and in my opinion best) juice cleanse and nut m*ilk brands in the UK. After a fairly hectic Summer, I decided to give Plenish’s three-day cleanse a go and couldn’t recommend it enough – admittedly it was tough (especially being surrounded by food!) but I felt refreshed and ready to tackle Autumn head on. I wanted to catch up with founder Kara to find out more about her journey including challenges in business, future goals and favourite foods.
What was your initial inspiration to start Plenish?
I set up Plenish after many years spent running on empty and becoming ill regularly. I felt failed by traditional medicine and antibiotics, so I sought out nutritional therapy to replenish my body and build back immunity and energy.
Amazed by the power that plant based nutrition had on restoring my health, I became inspired to take a more proactive approach to my nutrition and fill up on the good stuff to have the energy and drive to live a full and active life. I created a delicious portfolio of juices and plant-based m*lks that have been designed with nutritional therapists for the modern, busy generation.
What are the core values at the heart of Plenish?
The concept of Plenish is all in our name – being proactive and forward thinking to build deep reserves. Our mission is to keep people running on plenty, never empty! We’re ready to get the nation Plenished, making it easy for people to be proactive about their health so they can live their life at 110% without any compromise.
Where do you find inspiration for new flavours and products?
Mostly from our consumers. I have the privilege of meeting hundreds of people each year that have had a positive experience with Plenish; either through one of our juice cleanse programmes or our dairy-free m*lks. I love talking to busy people, finding out their challenges and finding a way to bring a product to market that answers those needs.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced since starting your business?
Challenges for Plenish have always come around when I try and rush supply chain. For example, a big retailer wanted one of our products about 2 months before we had organised to launch. As a new business, when you get an opportunity for a listing, it’s what it’s all about! Given our ingredients are all fresh, organic and of the best quality – sometimes speed doesn’t work. I needed more kale and spinach to produce higher volumes but the crops just weren’t’ ready and as much as I pushed it, we missed the listing window. I was very honest with the buyer – that we could have made it work, but the product quality would have suffered and she eventually agreed to launch our product later that year. At the time, it felt like a big loss, but if I had to do it again, I think we made the right decision as our product quality would have suffered.
What has been the most rewarding thing about starting your own business?
There have been some great pinch-me moments. Seeing our products listed as the best juice cleanse by Gwyneth Paltrow and the Goop team and being named one of Britain’s ‘coolest brands’ two years in a row was one of them. We just received our third Great Taste award – which was epic!! Those more glamorous moments aren’t as exciting as meeting a customer who has made positive changes to their life and their health inspired by how good they felt after a juice cleanse, or replacing dairy with one of our nut M*LKs.
From one girl boss to another, what advice would you give you other women wanting to start their own business?
Focus on your product first and ask yourself, “is it the best in class?”. Make sure you are passionate about adding value to a consumer’s life – if you can nail both of those, you have an amazing foundation. Then focus on making sure what your product or service offers is well communicated to your target audience, looks great, and has a unique point of differentiation!
What is your favourite part of working for yourself?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and loved the idea of how nimble new businesses can be without layers of corporate structure. Decisions and strategies can be made and executed swiftly! It’s easy to keep things moving forward quickly, which is always exciting.
You just had a new baby 5 weeks ago, how do you balance work/home life?
I always tell other business owners in the early stage that “work/life balance” is a myth, and the sooner you accept that, the less stressed you will be. I always say – there doesn’t have to be such a distinction between work and life – it’s all living! There are times when your business needs complete focus and dedication. You will miss some bath times and dinners and you will feel guilty. There are other times when you need to prioritise your family – and you will be less dedicated to your business that day – and guess what – you will feel guilty too! The only loser in this situation is you – so drop the guilt and do what you need to do. Your to do list may not happen on the exact day you wanted it to, but it all gets done, it always does. The happier you are, the better parent you’ll be and the better business leader you’ll be too.
As a parent, how has having children impacted your business and your perspective on work?
I spent my 20’s and early 30’s being a neurotic planner, making sure deadlines were met precisely – having kids has taught me to take each day as it comes. In business, (like raising a child), the milestones you set don’t always happen exactly when you hope they will. Make the most of each day, roll with the punches and look at the detours in your Plan A as an opportunity!
What are your future goals for the company?
The business is going through a pivotal period, as we shift from being a niche player, selling through our online channel and specialty retail to having a proper national grocery presence. It’s a great privilege to be able to put products like our nut M*LKS and juices on the shelves of Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, spreading the opportunity for consumers to trade up to a better product. We’ve been doing this in London, and the opportunity to spread this nationally is very exciting. The next 5 years will see expanded distribution of our M*LK range as well as some new products launching this Autumn, also in grocery.
What do you enjoy doing to relax after a stressful day?
I’m a total extrovert and recharge from connecting with other people. It’s usually my husband at home – sitting in the garden or on the sofa recapping a tough day. I also love meeting up with other entrepreneur friends, we often encounter similar challenges and it can be super helpful to compare notes and how we’ve handled similar challenges. Or simply not even mentioning work – and going for a run (or a glass of wine!).
What is your favourite meal of the day?
Breakfast! It’s light out, it’s noisy, and we keep it pretty simple in my house, so we can all sit around the table and connect before a hectic day starts.
Where are your favourite places to eat out?
I live in London which has endless incredible eateries, so hard to narrow it down, but here it goes. I love sushi at Kiku, the innovative and delicious plant based menu at Farmacy, bountiful breakfasts at granger & co, acai bowls and smoothies at Bodyism and almond cappuccinos and the organic menu at Le Pain Quotidien.
If we came over for dinner, what would you serve us?
I would usually have one cold and one hot vegetable option. If my hubby is around, he’d likely throw some meat for himself on the Barbie (he’s Australian). I’m Loving roasting an entire cauliflower head drenched in tahini and olive oil, then sprinkled with sumac and pomegranate seeds at the moment.
Besides nut milks and fresh fruit and veg, are there any specific ingredients/foods you couldn’t live without?
I eat a lot of nut butter and spicy foods, so chillies are a staple in my house.