Have you ever dreamed of quitting the day job and starting your own business? The lovely Catherine Salway did just that when she founded Redemption Bar five years ago. She had worked in senior roles across the Virgin Group for more than 17 years, but had always wanted her own adventure.
It was so lovely to sit down and catch up with her for my new series on “Entrepreneurs in 2019: Born or Made?” and find out why she decided to make the jump and how her entrepreneurial journey has gone over the past few years. Her company, Redemption Bar and Restaurant, has expanded to three sites across London in the space of five years. She describes her aspiration for it to be the “world’s healthiest bar and restaurant”. They serve vegan food and non-alcoholic drinks, as she thinks socialising shouldn’t always have to be at the expense of your health. Their mantra is “come spoil yourself without spoiling yourself”.
It’s a trend that I’ve definitely noticed growing. More and more people are adopting vegan or low meat diets for environmental and health reasons. I’ve even tried to cut down on eating meat recently and my dad has given up beef altogether. Having a newborn baby and two other little children running around means that I just don’t have the energy or the time for hangovers, so I save my G&T for special occasions. I’ve noticed in the news and heard from friends about how younger adults are shunning drinking and leading healthier lifestyles.
This year, record numbers of people have signed up to “Veganuary” - pledging to try and live on a plant based-diet for the month of January. “Veganuary” kicked off 5 years ago and numbers of participants have doubled year on year and spans 193 countries. It’s a really interesting trend that I couldn’t have predicted five years ago – but Catherine was bang on the money. How did she manage to spot the trend ahead of its time?
Here’s her top tips from our interview:
- Part of what an entrepreneur is about is having that natural inquisitiveness about the world around you. Read the papers and keep up to date with the news. It will keep you in the loop of how the world is changing.
- Always look at what’s happening in LA and also Florida. Anything that happens in America tends to find its way over here eventually.
- If you’re interested in finding out what the general population are actually doing then check out the Office for National Statistics. They can give you great insights into behaviours and trends. If you have a grain of an idea then go and check to see what’s the statistics can prove.
She said it’s also really important to understand the art of business: “It’s not just about delighting customers, it’s about delighting customers while making money. It’s really easy to do one at the expense of the other. I learned that a lot from my Virgin days, that’s definitely something that Richard taught me.” She said she’s always researching and reading and it helps spark ideas and ways to do things. One of her favourite pieces of advice is from Eckhart Tolle, the spiritual leader, who said: “What’s the point in having a business if you make everyone’s life a misery in trying to make it successful? The means and the end are one.”
Catherine said she’s working on making the journey as much fun as getting to the destination, which is something I wholeheartedly agree with. It’s really important to make the most of every day and have fun along the way. She believes this stems from her natural impatience. She once got told by a salesman at Virgin Cola: “Take your foot off the gas Salway, your time will come when your time will come”. She said she was always looking for the next promotion and challenge and did the same thing with Redemption – and probably launched it a bit too early. You can never be over-prepared or over-researched and Catherine is now a firm believer that it doesn’t hurt to slow down a little in the beginning.
In our second interview, later this week, we explore topics ranging from attracting financing, surviving the ‘witching hour’, what the future holds for Redemption Bar and does Catherine believe that as an entrepreneur she was born or made?