Clean eating has transformed the food industry, its popularity fuelled by Instagram influencers such as Deliciously Ella and Joe Wicks and the millennial yearning to lead healthier, more conscientious lives. Indeed, a 2016 PWC report suggests that nearly half of 18 to 34-year-olds had made a change to their eating habits to pursue a healthier lifestyle.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that there’s a growing industry of young startups pushing products that embrace natural ingredients and reject additives and chemicals. We’ve featured the likes of TreeVitalise and TRIBE on this blog, two fast-growing companies that place their natural credentials pride of place.
Carley Jones, founder of Kettlebell Kitchen, can also boast of her company’s incredible growth. In the space of just a few years, she’s grown her Manchester-based clean-eating nutrition brand into a multi-store, multi-product venture, garnering no shortage of media coverage along the way.
It’s easy to see why the media are drawn to Carley’s story. With the drive and get-go spirit of a true entrepreneur, Carley left behind a well-paid call centre role (with a company she part-owned) to pursue her longstanding passions of sport and nutrition – and set up Kettlebell Kitchen in 2016. We caught up with Carley to find out more about her journey and Kettlebell Kitchen’s #eatcleancheatclean philosophy.
How would you sum up Kettlebell Kitchen in a sentence?
Health crazy nutrition brand focusing on redefining the food we consume, proving that healthy eating doesn’t need to be so bland and boring and that fast food doesn’t need to be so bad for you.
Can you briefly summarise the background to Kettlebell Kitchen and what you did before?
I’m from a call centre and sales background. I’d worked in a variety of management roles over 10 years and, although I was very successful, I realised I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing.
What was the inspiration behind Kettlebell Kitchen? Was there a lightbulb moment when it came to you?
I felt I belonged in the sport and nutrition industry as that was my passion. Struggling to eat healthy after long days in my call centre and gruelling CrossFit sessions later on at night, I realised there was a huge gap in the market for fast, healthy food. Being a busy businesswoman, I really struggled to keep my nutrition on point, to eat clean and fast food on the go. Kettlebell Kitchen was born!
Most people said it was a ‘mad’ idea but I was determined to prove them wrong. I made the leap and it worked!
What were the challenges around launching the business?
The fun challenges were to develop clean recipes for dishes that are normally full of additives and chemicals. A katsu curry, for instance, normally this dish will contain a range of chemicals, sugars, salts, preservatives etc. We created a very healthy, clean and fresh version. All our Kettlebell Kitchen sauces are ‘clean’ – meaning they’re free of chemicals and refined sugars.
And the not-so-fun challenges? Where did you find your time being spent?
My time is stretched across the business. I have to do the job of 7-8 people at once but I wouldn’t change this. I love being involved in so many things: accountancy and finances, social media, graphic design, overall management leadership, being the head troubleshooter, menu creator and developer, running all lease negotiations, project management of unit fit-outs, business development AND marketing. I will also still jump on tills to help out if I can see a store is too busy. I love rolling my sleeves up and getting stuck in!
How has the business evolved since your launch? Have there been any particular milestones?
The business now sits at three stores in Manchester: Spinningfields, Ancoats and First Street. We’re soon to open our headquarter unit near Media City and a flagship store in Newcastle.
As there are quite a few elements to your business – events, supplements, restaurants – how have you developed those and how do you manage them?
My management team are the developers, we’re always thinking out of the box with R&D stuff.