Empress Juices was founded by Emily Hughes when she was just 18 after she noticed that it was hard to eat "healthily" outside of London. As a Londoner it had never occurred to me that there weren't vegan cafes on every corner and sugar free treats everywhere you turned, but according to Emily everywhere she looked she found refined sugar. On the back of this discovery she started to create products with zero added sugar from her home in Devon. In her own words she "literally saw a gap in the market."
Emily, now 20 is now stocking her products Empress Juices in cafes local to her home and when I met with her last week she was rushing to meetings with even bigger stockists who had expressed an interest. I was so excited to meet Emily as I desperately wanted to talk to a girl who had decided to follow her dreams at such a young age and jump with both feet, into starting a business.
There are currently two juices in her fruit range, that I tried after meeting with her: the first one: strawberry, pomegranate, apple and grape and the second: beetroot, apple, orange and cinnamon. Obviously they were totally delicious and I highly recommend keeping an eye out for them, but more impressive is the girl behind the brand.
I met with her last week to talk about how she started her business and to see if she had any advice for anyone who was thinking about setting up their own.
"I'm not saying that it's easy, but I am saying that anything is possible. I obviously can't tell what will happen but I'm determined not to give up. If you're proud of something, try not to think about it too much, just go for it."
Have you had any knock backs? Anything that has made you want to give up or feel like you should give up?
"Yes, I've already had so many knock backs, local brands were ignoring or rejecting me and I'd keep going back and they wouldn't reply. But then Harvy Nicks replied to me and you forget all the rejection. Obviously I don't know much about distribution but then they offer to help me with that and that is just amazing."
Do you ever feel like your age or gender holds you back or like it's given you something to prove?
"Yeh I sometimes feel a bit intimidated but I have to think: so yeh, I'm young, but really, what are my friends doing right now? Just larking about at university, at least I'm doing what I love. The thing that's annoying though is that whenever I meet with big stockists they're ALWAYS men and that can be intimidating. There is a huge injustice there."
What is it that really inspires you? That inspired you to start a business and not give up?
"When I need inspiration I think about why I started it. I think of other people who have not given up and they inspire me. I also think about the events that I have been lucky enough to go to and I remember the faces of people who have enjoyed my product and that's such a good feeling. Sometimes you make so much effort and people look at it like it's nothing, but that is business and you can't think like that. You have to keep plugging, that's something that I say to myself all the time
"My favourite quote, which is a bit cheesy but that I love is this:
Entrepreneur: is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down."
If you want to check out Empress Juices you can do so here.