Founder of Livia’s Kitchen 26 year old Olivia Wollenberg, has made life a little sweeter with her hip and certainly healthy range of sugar free, wheat free crumbles. Recently named by Elle Magazine as one of 30 most influential game changers under 30, we caught up with the entrepreneur to find out a little more about her inspirations, and what’s in store for the future.
What is your favourite go to ingredient when baking or cooking?
This is a tough question as there are a few ingredients I could just not live without, but if I had to choose one I think it would be oats. They are such an amazing ingredient for both taste and nutritional values.
Where did the idea for your crumbles come from? Why crumbles and not another dessert?
Crumbles have always been one of my favourite desserts, so when I was diagnosed with many intolerances at the beginning of last year I started searching online for recipes that would allow me to recreate the dessert I had always loved whilst fitting with my new way of eating. After a few experiments, I served up a crumble for my family and friends, and they all said it was one of the best crumbles they had ever had, which showed me that desserts really can be made in a better and healthier way without having to compromise on taste.
I decided to stick with crumbles for my first project, as they are a widely popular dessert and so traditionally British. Everyone loves an apple crumble, and mine is just that with a little nutritional twist!
It was important to me to create something delicious and indulgent and crumbles allowed me to do just that! What is also so special about the crumbles is that they make the perfect breakfast as well as dessert. Since they are just simply made with fresh fruit and a granola type topping, they are a brilliant morning option!
What is your favourite superfood?
My favourite superfood would probably have to be maca. I love the caramel flavour of it and it just goes so well in so many recipes.
Favourite healthy cafe in London?
I like the Good Life Eatery and Ethos if I’m looking for something savoury!
What is your favourite workout?
I really enjoy classes that are quite high intensity and make you work up a sweat! Two of my favourites at the moment are Psycle and Body Combat.
How do you find balance in stressful day-to-day life?
I think one thing that I have learnt in the year since starting up Livia’s Kitchen is how important it is to take time out. When you are running a start-up company there is always so much going on and keeping on top of it all can be really tiring! To find balance amongst this I like to ensure that every day I have at least an hour or two where I just switch off and focus on something other than the business. Sometimes I do this by going to an exercise class or going for dinner with my friends. What has helped me so much in finding this balance is having employed two girls who work full-time for me now and have become an integral part of the team. They are so dedicated and have taken huge amounts of pressure off of me. Although my working hours are still crazy, the days never seem quite as manic since having them around.
Who is your fitspiration?
Gosh, I don’t actually think I have one. I don’t like to compare my body or health to anyone else’s. I think comparisons can be dangerous and so I don’t actually look up to anyone in terms of fitness. I know what works for my body and I strive to ensure I always push myself to feel my best, not to conform to someone else or the ‘perfect’ body
Do you feel pressure from society to look a certain way being in the health industry?
I can see that this could definitely be an issue that may affect those who work in the industry or who are aspiring to do so, especially with the prevalence of it now on social media! For me, having felt so ill for so long, the way I feel within myself remains the most important thing; it is on this, that I tend to judge my wellbeing as opposed to achieving a certain image. I think it is vital to listen to your body and exercise and eat in a way that suits you and makes you feel your best and not to give in to any sort of pressure to be or look a certain way. The message that I and many of my friends in the industry are hopefully spreading is that what is important is to be STRONG NOT SKINNY. I have always had a very healthy appetite and although my jeans sometimes feel a little tighter than I would like, I don’t ever concern myself with negative feelings about it. I know I eat well, and enjoy my food enormously and so I wouldn’t change how I look. We all know how much I love something sweet, and if that means I am not stick thin then that is absolutely okay with me!
What’s your favourite snack other than crumble?
A lot of baking goes on in my house as we are always experimenting with recipes for the blog, so there tends to always be some sort of sweet treat lying around! I have at least a bite of something sweet and delicious each day (usually a little more than just a bite). My favourite at the moment is my carrot cake that I can’t get enough of. I love making that recipe into cupcakes too for a smaller bite!
What is your favourite crumble flavour?
This changes a lot and depends on the time of the day too! If it is for breakfast then I tend to go for banana or berry but apple is probably my all-time favourite, I just can’t get enough of the maca.
Who is your role model?
Cliché as it may sound; my role models are my mum and dad. My mum had devoted her life to looking after my sisters and I and is the most generous, determined and kindest woman I know. Her ability to cope with whatever life throws at her has really helped me to remain calm and work through any obstacles that come my way. My dad founded his own company and it is his passion for business and amazing way of approaching it that inspired me to take a similar path. His support has been infinitely helpful in getting me to where I am now.
How does it feel to be named by ELLE as one of the 30 most influential women under 30?
It is such a huge honour and I honestly can’t quite believe it! It is less than a year since I started trading so to be considered one of the most influential women under 30 by one of the most reputable magazines is just crazy to me. It just really goes to show that hard work pays off.
Words of advice for entrepreneurs who want to start their own company in the health industry?
I think some general advice I would give to people starting up a company is learning the art of delegation! It is so important to be able to share the work-load in order to give the best of yourself to everything you do and to still have time to socialise and switch off. It is so easy when you are building a company that you are passionate about, to get so absorbed by it that you end up run down and exhausted. As well as the art of delegation, I think it is vital to be able to be able to learn quickly from mistakes made, and recognise that it is normal for bumps in the road to occur. It is inevitable that things will go wrong and you will face various hurdles. The important thing is not to be disheartened by this but rather being able to bounce back stronger and better.
What’s next for Livias Kitchen?
There are so many things in store for Livia’s Kitchen! I am currently working on a new range of products, which I hope to have in shops later this year. I would also absolutely love to get my crumbles and any future products into some larger retailers in the next few months so that I can spread the love for healthy desserts nationwide and, fingers crossed, one day extend this to worldwide. We are also working on a YouTube channel at the moment to show everyone some more of what is going on behind the scenes as well as of course some recipe videos.
Words by Georgia Barnett