Founder Interview | Leanne Crowther @ Flower & White
I'm (Leanne) a 46 year old mum of 3 from Shropshire. Brian, my husband and business partner is from Yorkshire - we met in London 17 years ago and started our business 11 years ago when we relocated back to Shropshire after the birth of our 1st two children.
Both from food and retail backgrounds, we just knew we wanted to work together - driven by quality and great customer service - we wanted to make something that just had our customers saying 'Wow'! every time.
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Why did you become interested in the world of snacks & drinks?
We have always been obsessed with food and customer service- when we first met, Brian was working in Carluccios and has worked for a number of fantastic brands, Disney, Loch Fyne, Wagamama, Krispy Kreme.
I was working as a Regional Manager in Fashion retail for some really cool brands, Reiss, Jigsaw, All Saints, Office - we both knew what 'GOOD' looked like and spent most of our courtship eating out in the restaurants mecca of Upper Street in Islington, critiquing the food, service and general ambience.
Our goal was to eat in every singles one! There are over 200 restaurants.
Each time we thought we'd nearly done it - another one opened.😂
What inspired you to do what you do?
We needed a business that we could get off the ground with little finance so after kids - I went back to work and Brian stayed home to 'look after the kids'.
He spent his time baking and perfecting recipes for us to take to farmers markets and food fayres, festivals all around the country. We are both very driven and always pushing ourselves to get better and better.
It was a break for freedom really!
We were both fed up of working to the beat of someone else's drum honestly. We knew we could deliver something exceptional together, keep our promises to people that worked for us and find work life balance -(not that easy now we know more 😀).
What was your Eureka Moment when you knew you had a product which you could take to market?
Brian is exceptional when it comes to baking and is a master at breaking down recipes and working out how different ingredients interact with each other.
He is very technical and quite scientific about it! He was creating products that were blowing our socks off with their texture, flavour and appearance. People couldn't get enough....
It was later on that we introduced meringues and saw a real boom in these products -people wanted Gluten free, low cal desserts.
So we didn't so much have a eureka moment - more of a slow burner and the positive results just kept coming, so we knew we were doing something right.
What current & future trends does your product meet?
Low calorie snacking, gluten free, sustainable packaging, point of difference.
What has been the hardest part of starting your business?
Finance! We chose to do it ourselves! Self funded still!
A longer and probably harder road, but a lot more control longer term, a great deal of learnings and we still only answer to ourselves-and our customers of course.
What has been the BEST mistake you’ve made & why?
Our 3rd child!!!! 7 years after our 2nd child!
The business was taking control of us and our vision was often clouded by all the differing opportunities.
Having our little boy meant that I had to work more efficiently to spread my time around so we became a lot more clear about what we were doing, why we were doing it and how!!
I would not change it for the world.
What keeps you motivated?
Work wise - it's about making customers happy.
Personally, my family, holidays. There is an end goal to work less and do more for myself, family and others in need. I try to do as much as I can now, but I'd like to do more. Although, the end goal can often feel quite far away- it is always getting closer!!
What do you do in your spare time outside of business life?
Walk, yoga, meditate, cook and generally just enjoying time with the kids and Brian! Quite a simple life really!
What do you think are the key skills required to make yourself & your business a success in the world of snacks & drinks?
Tenacity, The ability to look at trends and how they could be part of what you do.
What would you say is your biggest strength?
Calm under pressure. Kind, but no BS.
What would you say is your biggest weakness & how do you look to overcome this?
Trying to please everyone-it can be overwhelming when you try to look after everyone's needs. Kids, husband, employees, customers.
I try to get some space for myself to breathe and clear my mind. It usually helps.
If you could sit down with yourself for a pint/glass of wine/coffee this time last year.....what would be the 3 most important tips you would give yourself knowing what you know now?
Sometimes you don't need a plan - you just need to get on with it and the rest will fall into place.
Take time out- it will help to give clarity.
Network - it's really important to get others opinions.
Any plans or predictions you can share with us for the rest of 2020?
We are looking at NPD with fresh eyes and can't wait to share our innovations.