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Angela Riccio, Pure Earth

Inspirational Female Founder Spotlight: Angelina Riccio

Angelina Riccio is the Co-founder and Marketing Director of Purearth, the UK’s leading and multi award winning health drinks brands known for its organic, innovative, and sustainable range of drinks from juice cleanses to fermented water kefir.

Can you tell us a little about your background and the company? 

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. My first role was straight from college and after a work placement at a well-known modelling and acting agency. I have worked for myself since the age of 21, when I founded my first business and which I ran for 8 years. After becoming despondent with this industry, I set off on a six month backpacking trip around Southeast Asia and India to decide what I wanted to do next in my life. This is where the inspiration and first seeds were laid for my next venture – Purearth. 

Purearth is a fast-growing health and wellness drinks company, which I started in 2012 as a home business with my friend Tenna. We both had a passion for helping others feel their best through the power of plants and nutrition.

We have come a long way from those days and now specialise in a core range of dairy-free water kefirs, juice cleanse programmes, cold-pressed juices, nut mylks and wellness shots. We are surrounded and supported by a brilliant team of experts in production, PR, marketing, management and finance, and the dedication and enthusiasm from the team has helped us grow and become the UK’s leading healthy drinks brand.

How did the idea come to you for the company? 

We have taken a lot of inspiration from lifestyle, families, and friends. Having led hectic lifestyles and felt the pressures of long working hours and the lack of work-life balance, we knew changing our lifestyles and eating habits was a good starting point. By incorporating cold-pressed juices, water kefir and raw fresh organic foods into our diet, we noticed a considerable shift in natural energy levels, as well as better mental clarity and strength. We wanted to create functional, unique, delicious, and healthy drinks that were previously unavailable in the market, but also wanted to ensure that our products were accessible to everyone and could be consumed as part of a daily routine to promote health and vitality. 

We are both very health-conscious, and really care about our impact on the planet, so naturally, we wanted to build an ethical business – one with a purpose. Having shared this with our friends and family, the word spread quickly about what we were doing, and this is when the Purearth journey began. We haven’t looked back since. 

How did you achieve awareness? 

I strongly believe in the power of words – we are very fortunate to have built a very loyal customer base, so endorsements from our customers and word of mouth have been extremely powerful from the offset and is still of great value to us. As the business began to scale, we invested in other marketing incentives to support and help us spread the love. I am proud to say that today our products are popular among the elite sports professionals, athletes, professional sports teams and Olympic gold medallists who incorporated our products into their daily nutrition, and are also loved by a growing celebrity clientele, which include Mel C, Rebecca Ferguson, Jenna Coleman and Ben Fogle to name a few.

How have you been able to gain funding and grow? 

Our first funding round came through a personal introduction, and we then progressed to working closely with Nexus Ventures. They played a key role in introducing us to suitable and like-minded investors, which is crucial to growing a business and staying aligned on where you want to go. Recently we also completed a successful crowdfunding campaign with Seedrs, which has been an exciting and rewarding experience.  

What are the key successes? 

In the last financial year we went past £1m in annual revenue for the first time, which is a landmark for any SME. This was as a result of delivering year on year growth of 108%, as well as more than doubling our direct-to-consumer sales.

In earlier years getting listings with the likes of online supermarket giant, Ocado, as well as retailers such as Planet Organic, Whole Foods and Selfridges helped tremendously with our national reach. Building on this success we have generated a strong demand from some of the largest hotels and hospitality outlets in the US, opening avenues and opportunities for international expansion, which is a very exciting step forward for the business.

What were/are the challenges, and how have you overcome these? 

Scaling up from a home business meant that there was a need for a considerable amount of investment, as we had to factor in the cost of a premise, invest in new machinery and maintain a high-quality product all within a short time frame to meet retailer demands. Trying to achieve this with limited capital was a challenge and we were pushed to the extreme. 

A business with the right people can be very powerful but finding the right calibre of resource can also be a real challenge, particularly when the business is growing at a speed and there is so much you want to do. Planning carefully and strategically has been key in making decisions, so we are lucky to have built a dynamic team with the right skills sets, who have supported our growth ambitions and help us make significant achievements as a business.

What are your plans now/for the future? 

We are seeing strong demands for our products from all corners of the world, which is very exciting and encouraging. We want to make good health more accessible for the masses, so we are embracing this demand and actively looking at opportunities to expand our distribution network across the UK and internationally.

What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey? 

Dowhat you love! If you have a passion for what you are creating or working on, even the hardest of times will be eased when you have that pure passion. I also think it is important to keep your motivation for creating a business at the forefront of your mind, as this will help you stay focused and keep on track to hitting your goals. 

Can you share you top 5-10 tips for entrepreneurial success? 

  1. Getting started is sometimes the hardest thing. Take that first step! You can spend years planning and aiming for perfection before you’ve even launched a business, but I always think the best way to learn is on the job. Experience is a powerful tool. 
  2. Learn from your failures! You will have highs and lows in business and although failing can be painful, it can teach us some of the most useful lessons in business. 
  3. Success doesn’t happen overnight! Be ready and prepared to be involved and fully committed for the long haul. 
  4. Be prepared to work long hours, for little or no money when you start a business but keep the positives in mind that your journey will be worth the blood, sweat and tears. 
  5. Finding a mentor can be a great way to feel supported and bounce ideas. Especially if they’ve worked in a similar type of business and industry.

Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most?

  • Deborah James (@bowelbabe): an old school friend who was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer at the age of 35 and has dedicated her life to helping build awareness around the disease and helping others recognise the signs to save lives! What a woman!
  • Brené Brown (@brenebrown) has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. She’s the author of five #1 New York Times bestsellers: The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness and Dare to Lead, which is a seven-year study on courage and leadership.
  • Simone Biles (@simonebiles)  – 32 Olympic and World Championship medals, last year putting her health and mental health first. 
  • Martin Luther King  – one of the most important names of the 20th century, pioneering the mass movement of equal rights and inspired an entire generation to rethink racial equality.
  • Sir David Attenborough @davidattenborough – the greatest champion of humanity and Earth. Over the years he has persistently warned us of our “last chance” to change our behaviour to prevent climate change and damage of catastrophic proportions to our planet. He urges people to “stop waste of any kind”, including energy, food and plastic.

What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?  

  • If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door
  • Teamwork makes the dream work
  • Your attitude determines your direction 
  • Bend like a willow, in the wind – Bruce lee 
  • No growth in comfort 

What are your social handles and website links so our readers can connect with you?