SLOAN! chats to Verity Bowditch about life after reality TV, the story behind Clean Kitchen Club and the challenges & joys of being an entrepreneur.
What was the inspiration behind creating Clean Kitchen Club?
My business partner, ex YouTuber Mikey Pearce, went back to his family house in lockdown, started eating more vegan food and lost a lot of weight. He thought if a normal guy like him could benefit from swapping to vegan food and see a benefit for himself and the planet, then the mainstream market should too.
I am really passionate about the benefits of plant-based food. Firstly, it’s cruelty free (I am a massive animal lover). Secondly, it’s the easiest way to lower your carbon footprint. And third and finally, it has so many health benefits. This is my inspiration to drive the brand forward. So, we decided to bring vegan food to the mainstream and change perceptions by linking vegan food with influencers, brunch parties and popular culture.
We now have six sites in London and our new Battersea Power Station restaurant will be our flagship. It’s going to be so cool, anyone coming to London has to check it out! It’s the future of food and you would never know it’s all vegan when you taste it.
You mentioned Mikey Pearce, your business partner for Clean Kitchen Club. What are the 5 key traits you look for in a business partner?
Loyalty. Ambition. Hard working. Thinking outside the box. And finally, you can get along with them and have a laugh as you’ll be spending a lot of time with them!
It’s a big jump from a science degree to reality TV to being an entrepreneur. What have been some of your most memorable challenges on that journey?
A big one used to be being taken seriously in business. People just think they know me for being on TV. Once they delve a bit deeper, their preconceptions change and we could talk on a business level. Now I am a bit more developed in this world, it doesn’t happen so much!
Another challenge was having to understand different industries quickly! Reality TV is a weird one to get your head around. It’s a big learning experience about yourself as you are put into exaggerated situations you would never be in in real life. Then you add raising money to get the investment needed to expand your business to the mix, and having to understand the finance & investment side of things. Although I have to say this was an aspect I actually really ended up enjoying! Not to mention having to learn on the job while you create a quick service restaurant chain and getting to grips with the operational side of the business. There have been so many challenges!
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to change their career trajectory?
Like a lot of people, I used to think I would have one job for my whole life. I thought I wanted to be a doctor, and then a lawyer. But in life one thing leads to another and I have ended up saying yes to most opportunities. I’ve never turned anything down because I love to be challenged. This has led me to where I am now and I’m so happy for it. So the advice I would give is never say no if it makes you feel uncomfortable or is a risk, it could lead you to being even happier and fulfilling your true passion. And don’t agree to things to make someone else happy in your career. Do it for you, I have learnt that!
What would you say are the benefits to following a plant-based diet?
Most importantly for me it’s the fact that it’s cruelty free and no animals were harmed in the process. With regards to healthy living, a plant- based diet is rich in antioxidants which are great to keep you young, healthy and able to combat disease. It is also low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Swapping to a plant-based diet will make you feel so much healthier. Just make sure you are getting enough protein through healthy meat substitutes, protein shakes, lentils, pulses, nuts etc. And not forgetting its impact on the environment. Swapping our factory farmed beef in particular for a plant-based alternative has a massive positive impact on your personal carbon footprint.
In your opinion, how do you see the Plant Based Dining Out trend developing in the coming years?
A study showed 30% of ‘young people’ (Gen Z) say that they are trying to be vegetarian or vegan. With a further 10% saying they are cutting down on red meat. We expect to see supply and demand kick in, so be prepared to see a lot more plant-based options out there.
Which three people (dead or alive) would you invite to your dream (plant-based) dinner and why?
David Attenborough – he is my specialist subject on Celebrity Mastermind so I could do with some knowledge!
Kim Kardashian – she has nailed her empire, knows how to create a brand and never stops hustling.
Ellen DeGeneres – she has made some amazing contribution to animals, donating millions of meals to shelters and campaigning. And she must have heard some great stories during her time.
We hear you are very much into Pilates. For someone who is over their desired weight with aches and pains, what top tips would you give them on how could they get into Pilates and what results they could expect?
Pilates is definitely for you! It’s for everyone. Start with a beginner’s class in person with no more than 12 students. The teacher will look after you – and do let them know of any injuries you have. You’ll see results after your first session. And it’s great for back pain, feeling stiff, muscular pain, the lot.
Who are your role models (not including family) and what is it about them that you admire?
It has to be Elon Musk. His vision and how he can constantly innovate and take his brand to the next level is just admirable.
Everyone encounters disappointment along their life’s journey. What is a recent disappointment you were faced with? How did you overcome it?
Setbacks are everyday occurrences in business, a site falls through or a product didn’t take off as we thought it would. You have to accept it, admit that you have failed (if that is the case), learn from the experience, try and see the positive in it and move on!
Social media can be both amazing and mentally challenging. How do you deal with any naysayers in your life and/or anyone who may approach a situation with a bit of toxicity?
Luckily, I don’t get so many negative comments, however if I do it goes straight over my head these days. After my first year of being on the TV, I got used to it, it’s second nature. I don’t read any comments from anyone who doesn’t know me. It’s a waste of energy when they don’t have the full picture and 9 times out of 10 would never say it to you if they saw you in the street.
Tell us all about the charities you support and why they are close to your heart?
Margaret Green Animal Rescue, where my mum rescues her animals from. We have had countless sheep, ponies, a goat, chickens. They do amazing work.
Compassion in World Farming are on the mission to stop factory farming, one thing I cannot stand. I am for everyone making their own choices. However I doubt most would still want to support such an industry if they had seen how animals are treated in these places. If you are going to eat meat look at the labelling and make sure its free range. CIWF do a fab job of educating and tackling problems at grass roots level.
If you were to choose four items that you could not live without, what would they be and why?
- My phone obviously, I constantly work on the go.
- My air pods, how materialistic of me, but I love to be able to exercise with them. I usually have lost one of them though!
- My dog! An RSPCA rescue
- Clean Kitchen chicken nuggets – you have to try them!
Who was the last person to text you and did the text make you laugh?
Probably my business partner about our flagship launching in Battersea Power Station. It’s all we are talking about at the moment. It’s located at UG19 in the re-developed power station. Expect bottomless brunches, live DJs and even me teaching some (rescue) puppy Pilates!
To find out more about Clean Kitchen Club, please visit www.cleankitchen.club