About Time You Met: Emily Wong, Founder of Emily CrispsBy Angelica Malin
To celebrate International Women’s Day – we’re running a series of interviews with amazing female entrepreneurs. We sat down with Emily Wong, founder of Emily Crisps to discover what makes Emily tick, and the inspiration behind her healthy fruit snacks.
What’s the story behind Emily Crisps?
I grew up in a family that loves to eat healthy and delicious food including lots of fresh fruit and veg so these have always been a big part of my diet. 5 years ago when I travelled around Asia, I discovered a really special technique that turned my favourite fruits and veg into delectable crunchy crisps, and I knew there and then that I had found something really special. When I returned home I talked to my life (and now business) partner Alex, and he was also really excited to turn this idea into a reality. Emily Crisps is the result of our combined passion to encourage others to eat healthier.
What do we need to change about the way we eat?
I think we have to be less obsessed with diets. We should aim to have a balanced diet and enjoy food, recognising that we need to eat healthier but that does not mean extreme calorie counting. It’s all about creating a healthier relationship with our food.
What’s the business been like to run and grow?
Like a rollercoaster; exciting, scary and challenging. You spend so much time building the business – working late, saying no to socialising and generally prioritising your business that it becomes your world. That work/life balance becomes really hard to maintain. Despite the solitary times, I know that I have an amazing partner and a growing team to support me and that’s why I always try to do better and remember not to be incredibly hard on myself during this journey.
How does business change you as a person?
Emily Crisps has made me far more reliant on other people. I learnt very quickly that you cannot do it alone. When I worked at a large corporate company, I could work independently, but growing and developing this business means that I am becoming more reliant on my team to bring our vision to life.
What’s new about your business?
I really feel like Emily Crisps is a new and innovative range of products that offers consumers the option to make a healthier choice, but one that is also fun and delicious. We offer a completely natural snack which isn’t heavily processed or extruded, and you can see this by just by opening the pack. I will not compromise between taste and health so I chose the only best produce to make fruit and veg crisps. Plus, we only use a light layer of oil on our crisps whilst they are cooked, and a touch of natural sea salt onto our veg crisps to enhance the flavour to make the best tasting crisps possible.
Did you take investment? How easy / hard was that decision?
We did take on investors last year and it was an easy decision because more than just financial backing we wanted expertise to take our business to the next level. For me recognising my own limitations and finding people to help me grow and develop is vital. This step needed to feel right and that’s what we found with our investors. They are our mentors and members of the team; helping to shape the business, providing insights and advice so that we can create a successful business and genuine brand.
What does good food mean to you?
To me good food, first and foremost, means being incredibly tasty. When you have good food you should anticipate it and be rewarded with a complete experience. Really good food inspires both the people who make it and who eat it and it becomes far more than just sustenance. In London we have access to such an amazing variety of food that I look forward to my three meals a day.
What’s your first memory of food?
My Grandma cooking. She cooked all day long. She was from China and cooked the old recipes which involved taking her time and cooking for hours. My Grandmother raised me on homemade noodles and dumplings, and I was really lucky that I had a strong female figure and tasty food which I believe has influenced my entire life.
What inspires you? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
I am always inspired by people who dedicate their lives to creating amazing things and experiences. From entrepreneurs to artists to scientists; it is those who craft something unconventional and surprising in a world where we are exposed to so much that really speak to me. One of my favourite actresses is Helen Mirren who is intelligent, speaks out and is unapologetic in her attitude. The last play I saw her in was The Queen and I loved reading about how she stepped out into the streets of Soho in full costume to challenge rowdy parade that was disrupting her performance. These moments of unexpected humanity in a world where we put people on pedestals, challenge the status quo and inspire me to do the same.
What’s next for you?
Right now my main goal is to grow Emily Crisps. I am currently excited about our plans for 2017 and making tasty healthier food more accessible. This passion keeps me, Alex and the team motivated.
Favourite park in London?
I love Richmond park as it reminds me of Canada where I was born and makes me feel like I’m miles away – a perfect escape for me.
Favourite brunch in London?
Climpson’s Arch have residencies which change every few months and it’s where I’ve had some my most memorable meals – not just because they’re a bit east end unpolished (on the design side) whilst innovative and tasty (on the food side), but the whole atmosphere is so convivial and laid back that it really makes me feel like home. When Som Saa had their residency there they served rice porridge for brunch which I thought was one of the best things to happen to London, at least for those of us who are Asian.
Favourite wine bar in London?
67 Pall Mall – old school with a bit of formality, glamour and a kick ass wine list. Sitting in a traditional wood panelled room with indulgent peacock blue velvet lounge chairs, and some great wine in hand pretty much sums up why I’m in love with this venue.