Interviews, insight & analysis on Ecommerce

How We Built It: Kara Rosen, Founder of Plenish

Give us the elevator pitch. Tell us about your brand 

Plenish is a plant-based pioneer that has dedicated the last decade to the pursuit of perfect and untampered with ingredients. Since launching the UK’s first cold-pressed juice range back in 2012, we’ve expanded into plant-based milks and immunity-boosting juices shots that are now sold in thousands of stores across the country. All our products are made with only the finest organic ingredients and absolutely no additives. Plenish is also a B-Corp Company and the only UK-based drinks brand to be certified carbon-negative by the UN. 

What inspired you to set up your company and setting your company up, what goal did you have in mind for Plenish?

My previous career was in magazine publishing at Condé Nast in New York City and involved travelling a lot. 

One winter, I became unwell with a case of strep throat and my doctor prescribed antibiotics which helped me get better, but ultimately I kept getting recurring infections. I ended up going to see a nutritional therapist who took a look at my diet and made the observation that I was eating out of convenience, and eating a lot of beige foods. She took me off all the medication I was on and told me to do a three-day juice cleanse. It wasn’t about losing weight, it was about flooding my system with an abundance of fresh, organic, green vegetables, which transformed my health. 

I was spending a lot of time in LA, where amazing juice delivery places were opening up. But when I moved to the UK in 2009, there was nothing happening in that space, so I started Plenish. It started with making juices for myself and friends, new mums who had also just had babies, and they started bringing them home to their friends and husbands and so on through word of mouth. 

What was your biggest challenge in year one?

I came from a brand-building and marketing background so I knew how to create concepts and propositions to meet consumer needs. But, I had no clue how to set up a fresh supply chain, how to procure fresh vegetables, how to procure packaging or how to make things on any sort of professional scale. When I first started, I would take an order online – order the vegetables and fruits from Ocado, press the juices, bottle them and send them off in a courier – so we had to scale very quickly and I learnt a lot when the business started growing. 

What would you say has been your biggest marketing success?

When we first started, we were selling exclusively direct to consumers. We had no marketing budget, so the biggest success then was taking risks and putting ourselves in places where we thought potential customers would understand what we were doing. 

We did some really fun guerilla marketing outside of London Fashion Week, for example. I found this really quirky group of musicians who created musical instruments out of peppers and courgettes, and we started playing hit songs and handing out samples of juices. Fashion editors in the print magazine world who had been travelling to the other fashion capitals and knew these types of products were excited to see them in London and started writing about them. That really helped put us on the map with a much wider, more influential audience.

What has been the biggest mistake you made?

There have been so many and some of them seem small now, but were really big at the time. I’ve always said to the team, that if you’re not making mistakes then you’re not trying hard enough, so failure is a really important part of having a high-growth business. I think the biggest mistake would be not to embrace celebrating those mistakes and realising they’re actually just as important as the things that work. 

Tell us about your plans for the future

We want to make it really accessible for people to make healthy decisions both for themselves and for the planet. We have so much whitespace in the UK and internationally to take what we’ve already got and to get that to more people through more availability both online and in-store. We’ve now got the opportunity with the extra resource and expertise that Britvic has brought on to look at that pipeline of new products and perhaps go a little wider than we would have as a stand-alone business. 

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