Pollen + Grace – fuelling the fight against coronavirus

As part of our support for #stockupsmall, we’re showcasing businesses taking part in the campaign. We spoke to Kristina Komlisiova and Stephanie Johnson about their latest initiative to deliver free meals to frontline NHS staff.

10 April 2020

As the NHS rallies to support those suffering from coronavirus, small businesses across the UK are pitching in to try and help however they can. For Pollen + Grace, doing their bit means preparing and delivering fresh, free and healthy meals for hard-working NHS staff and key workers.

“We were very quick off the mark,” says Stephanie, co-founder of the healthy food box company. “We started dropping food directly to hospitals to feed the staff. We saw a lot of social media posts about NHS staff and key workers who were struggling to find food, and get access to fresh and healthy meals. So we started our campaign – we’ve donated almost 2,000 meals now.”

On top of this, for lucky Londeners they’re also offering a next-day delivery service. Those in the delivery area and in need of a healthy bite to eat can try their tasty mango and turmeric chia puddings, or immunity boosting lunch bundles – a self-isolators dream. Check out their range of products here.

From Whole Foods to houses

In 2015 Stephanie and Kristina started their lunch delivery service out of their Hammersmith kitchen, cycling as many meals as they could carry around to local offices. Born out of a frustration with the lack of truly fresh food-to-go on supermarket shelves, they were determined to make healthy food accessible and exciting for everyone. Now, their business employs a team of talented chefs, prepping meals for shelves in Planet Organic, Whole Foods and Co-op.

But, with the government’s forced closure of retail outlets, Pollen + Grace have had to adapt the way they’re doing business. Consumer behaviour has shifted towards buying essential items and ingredients, leaving many small businesses having to think on their feet. Having lost 80% of their retail revenue, Stephanie and Kristina returned to their direct-to-door roots.

"We’ve basically turned the business into what it was in the beginning,” says Kristina. “We started delivering to homes again which is exciting – we usually produce tonnes of food which often just goes onto a shelf in a supermarket, but with this we really get to interact with customers again.”

“There’s now a huge demand for our direct-to-door service and it’s probably something we’ll continue to do after coronavirus is all over. While it was a pivot that we had to do because of circumstances, in hindsight it’s an exciting new revenue stream.”

#stockupsmall

Kristina and Stephanie are both supporters of #stockupsmall – a two-pronged campaign that raises awareness of thousands of small businesses still operating through the coronavirus crisis, and encourages consumers to look beyond supermarkets for their supplies.

“Small businesses have more or less been left out when it comes to government schemes. It seems like they’ve been left to fall through the cracks,” says Kristina. “Stock Up Small could help create a wonderful legacy that could impact not just the food industry, but other industries too. Hopefully consumer habits start to change and after this people will be more aware of smaller businesses.”

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Dan is part of the content team at iwoca. He writes articles explaining financial topics, as well as guides on the best support for small businesses during coronavirus.

Article updated on: 18 June 2020

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