Could you give us a brief background into your career before starting The Collective?
I studied Marketing and Communication at University. My first job was with Kellogg’s field sales team in Scotland where I cut my teeth visiting 10 supermarkets a day securing prime spots for Kellogg’s cereals. One and a half years later I moved to London and joined L’Oreal, moving through various sales roles during my 4 years there. L’Oreal was a great place to work in my twenties, very much work hard, play hard; I learnt lots while having great fun!
It has always been my goal to have my own business, so when an opportunity came up to join a very small business called Gü Puds, I joined the team to take my big company experience and apply it to a small business. Back then the business was turning over £5m and we went on to grow the team and the business to over £30m in 4 years. It was there I met The Fold founder – Polly McMaster’s husband James; he was Operations Director and I was Sales Director, we were a young team with ambitions of fast growth.
Amelia wears the Sakai dress
What made you decide to start your own company?
When Gü was sold to a larger business, I felt the time was right for me to move on to a new challenge. The Gü Managing Director Mike Hodgson and I worked really well together and we looked for a new opportunity to take on together. It was at that time we met Angus and Ofer, two chefs from New Zealand who had created The Collective a year and a half earlier, and it had gone on to become the no.1 gourmet yoghurt brand in New Zealand in a short space of time. Mike and I recognized that the unique quality of the yoghurts and the distinctive branding was just what the UK yoghurt market needed. Luckily, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose agreed at the time. We formed a joint venture with Angus and Ofer and launched our business in January 2011.
What has been your biggest milestone since starting The Collective?
Reaching over 5,000 supermarkets stocking our yoghurts across the UK and Ireland was a huge milestone for us. We feel we’ve built some solid foundations from which to grow the business: we’ve gone from the two of us sitting in a room together 4 years ago, to a team of 13 today.
What advice would you give to someone interested in starting their own business?
You need to ask yourself a few key questions first: Is your proposition truly differentiated from what is already available in the market? Are you willing to spend potentially years shedding blood, sweat and tears? Do you believe in your proposition 100% and have the drive, energy and determination to make it a success? If the answers to these questions are yes, then go for it and enjoy the journey. It’s like a roller coaster but the ups are definitely worth experiencing some of the downs!
We love your yoghurts; what is your personal favourite? And could you share with us a simple recipe using yoghurt?
I’m a bit fickle with the flavours as I do love them all! My current favourite is Mango mainly because it’s taking me back to warmer days! We’ve recently launched Coffee as a limited edition flavour, we spent a long time developing it so to finally see it on the supermarket shelves is really exciting and it seems to be catching people’s attention. Coffee is a big part of our daily lives but isn’t seen on the yoghurt fixture.
My other favourite is the range of yoghurt pouches for Kids called Suckies that we launched last year. They’re mess free and so easy to grab on the run! My 2 yr old son got to be a chief taste tester when we were developing them.
We’ve also just launched a natural yoghurt called Straight Up that it’s beautifully thick and silky smooth. A really easy dip/salad dressing is putting 4 table spoons of Straight Up in a blender, a clove of garlic, a handful of feta cheese, a twist of salt and pepper, a few parsley leaves and the zest of a lemon, whip it up for 20 seconds and… ta-da! A yummy, healthy dip!
What does a typical day in Amelia’s life look like?
I have a 2 year old son, so most days are a bit of a juggle! I get up around 6.30 and try and jump in the shower before Hudson hears me so I’m ready. I then make a cup of tea and whip up a quick protein smoothie for breakfast so I can sip it on the way to work via the nursery. We live within 5 minutes of the nursery and work so there’s no long commute but you never know with London traffic.
I get to our office in Acton before 8.30 and the first thing I check is our sales to customer’s from the day before. We live and die by our daily numbers and working in chilled food is always a fast paced environment!
Everyday is different, I’ll usually see 2 or 3 retailers a week; it might be meeting the buyer or marketing team, or working through stock levels for a future promotion.
Every week we’ll receive new product samples for yoghurts we’re developing; that’s an exciting time as we’re seeing new ideas coming to life!
Every couple of weeks I’ll have a Skype call with our New Zealand team covering anything from design of packaging to joint brand development projects. It’s exciting sharing influences from both sides of the world, we think that adds something really unique to our business.
I try to be disciplined to leave the office at 5.30 to get home for bath time. In the evening I try and squeeze in a quick workout and resist opening my laptop after dinner – the to do list goes on for ever and will never be finished so my big goal at the moment is to bring more of a balance to my life!
Amelia wears the Sakai dress
What is your typical 9-to-5 style?
When I’m in the office, its usually quite casual. I have a favourite pair of Frame Denim jeans that work really well with The Fold Marais tunic top and a pair of flats, I’m loving Boden’s range of flats at the moment as well as a new silver pair of J Crew pumps.
When I go and meet a retailer, I’ve got the Le Marais capsule collection that I can swap around with different tops and wear either a skirt or trousers depending on the weather!
And finally, what is your favourite piece from The Fold AW14 collection?
I’ve just bought the new Sakai black and white knitted jumper dress. It’s so easy to wear and can be worn with heels or flat boots and dressed up or down; it’s had a lot of wear already!