Founder of LoveRaw and mother-of-two opens up about the struggles of running a business as a mother – but says it’s all worth it
Founder of all-natural vegan bar brand, LoveRaw, speaks
about how she juggles parenthood while running her own successful start-up
business – and loves every minute of it
“I have had to take my children with me to meetings as I was breastfeeding or I had no childcare,” Rimi Thapar, founder of LoveRaw, tells me. “I've changed nappies and breastfed on board room tables, it’s been interesting. In this industry never, everything has been well received. I did have to take both kids to an investor meeting once, which turned out to be an experience.”
Rimi, a mother-of-two, kickstarted her own business Love Raw in 2013, over her growing frustration with the lack of all-natural “stripped down” foods packed with nutritious ingredients, minus the added chemicals and preservatives. From the comfort of her own kitchen, Rimi began experimenting with textures, ingredients and flavour combinations, making sure she delivered a product that was not only high in nutritional value but tasted great too.
“Leading a healthier lifestyle, I was in search of snacks that were better for me and tasted good,” Rimi said. “But there wasn't much on the market. So, I thought ‘I can do this’. I'll make a product that I would like to consume in the market and off I went. Back when we launched in 2013, the lack of great tasting, transparent snacks that are better for you. However, our products were a little niche. Our positioning has somewhat changed over the last couple of years.”
Love Raw, prides themselves in making great-tasting vegan products, using minimalistic ingredients such as premium Belgian chocolate, nut butters, organic agave, coconut sugar, almonds and cacao butter, taking things down a notch by focusing on “simple ingredients” without comprising on taste.
“Now in 2020, we’re focusing on great tasting Vegan Chocolate with no compromise on taste, made for vegans and also non-vegan vegans (flexitarians and individuals who are not vegan),” Rimi added. “Although we use simple ingredients, we are not a conventionally natural looking brand. We are edgy, brave, keep it honest and real. We are not afraid of going against the grain. Vegan chocolate has a bad rep for not tasting that great. We are here to make you think otherwise. We use premium Belgium chocolate, nut butters and avoid ingredients such as E numbers, additives etc. Claiming a product to be “healthy” is a very subjective thing. What's healthy to one may not be another, we leave it to the consumer to decide.”
Rimi launched her website and began selling her products online, packaging everything by hand to deliver to customers. As the popularity of her business grew, Rimi realised she had to venture abroad to further her career ambitions and expand LoveRaw. With just £600 in her pocket, Rimi left her family behind and travelled to the UK with hopes to pitch her product to buyers. In a true entrepreneurial move, Rimi even snuck into buildings to present her bars to a couple of buyers – and that was when she received her first big order.
“First and foremost, I left my husband in Spain and moved back to the UK for 12 months to start the business,” Rimi tells me. “I started the business with just £600, I didn't have thousands to invest and I wanted to validate the product before going into production. So, I went to see a buyer without a meeting, I sneaked past two reception desks and apologetically presented the product. It worked and I received my first order.”
In 2018, Rimi was offered a £50K investment from Deborah Meaden on Dragon’s Den, but ended up rejecting it even though her business was financially on its knees. However, the decision paid off as she secured a multi-million pound investment from Blue Horizon Ventures just two years later, who are known for investing in plant-based food brands.
“Deborah wanted too much equity we offered 5%, she asked for 30%, we said no thanks,” Rimi explained. “When you have worked so hard, why would you give so much equity away for so little? I had a flashback at the 18-hour days and all the hustling. Yes, we needed the investment but it didn't feel right to accept the offer. I don’t regret a thing.”
As a mother-of-two, Rimi has opened up about the struggles of juggling motherhood and running her own business. At a time when she had no childcare, Rimi brought her children in to work, and even resorted to changing nappies and breastfeeding on boardroom tables, and once brought her two kids into an investor meeting.
“When I started the business, I had no children, now I have 2,” Rimi said. “It’s a challenge, but I bring my children to work sometimes and I take my work home. I have had to take my children with me to meetings as I was breastfeeding or I had no childcare. I've changed nappies and breastfed on board room tables, it’s been interesting. In this industry never, everything has been well received. I did have to take both kids to an investor meeting once, which turned out to be an experience.”
Running a business comes with sacrifice, Rimi said, and she often has to balance her motherhood duties with the running of her company, leaving her to spend less time with her children. Despite that, Rimi reminds herself that the hustle will eventually pay off, and tries her best to allocate a few hours in the day to her little ones.
“Sometimes it gets challenging and yes it does get stressful, but then I have to take a step back and let go of something. Many sacrifices are made. Most days I don't pick up my daughter from work, but I tell myself I'm building something unique and setting a good example and work ethic for her. I don't have much of a social life, either I’m at work or home with the children, I'm hoping to change that this year.”
Running her company from scratch, Rimi has urged other entrepreneurs to strive for their goals and if possible, run operations from home to save up on capital. Rimi only hired office space after she had multiple staff and started outsourcing manufacturing when she was over stretched with budget.
“Brilliant, do it, I started from home,” she said. “I was making the bars in the home kitchen. We saved money on overheads and its only when we were really over stretched that we found premises to manufacture, and when we had multiple members of staff that we found office space. However, don't forget to factor in rent in your cost of goods. At some point you will move out and that should be considered in your price.”
Developing a bespoke brand, product and concept before launching is vital – and if you can’t do it, get someone else who can, Rimi said.
“First and foremost a great product, service and concept. Bootstrap to help cashflow and keep on top of your finances. If you can’t do it yourself, get someone who can.”
Rimi stressed the importance of maintaining a growth mindset and being positive, but always makes sure to focus on self-improvement, and is never afraid to ask for a helping hand when she needs it.
“I try to remain positive and optimistic however if I'm having a bad day I don't try and cover it up and just get my frustrations out,” Rimi said. “I'm very much into self-improvement, I don't know everything and am not afraid to ask for help. Most definitely a growth mindset. Hustle, perseverance there are times where you just want to quit, I have had many. But don't quit keep going, don't be afraid to change things up. If something isn't working, pivot.”