Mama and Papa went on a quick workation to the northern hemisphere and met up with some of our Matcha Mates in London! We spammed wellness & lifestyle blog, Welltodo, founder, Lauren Armes, with more questions than she's ever been asked in her life and here's how she responded
For the non-Londoners among us (although we've been following you even from Down Under), tell us what Welltodo is?
Welltodo started as a wellness lifestyle blog for Londoners looking for new places to eat, sweat, meditate and more - anything that promoted a healthier approach to stressful urban living. But over time it transformed into more of an industry resource and about six months ago we flipped the content on its head an repositioned Welltodo as a global wellness news platform. We now cover industry insights, provide business advice, spotlight wellness trends, and run a host of events for startups, brand leaders and investors interested in the business of wellness.
How did it begin? What was your inspiration? And where were you beforehand?
I moved to London three years ago intending to 'climb the corporate ladder' thinking a future in international business development and marketing lay head. I realised pretty quickly that the 9-5 lifestyle working for somebody else just wasn't for me and that what I craved was greater flexibility, fulfilment and ownership. The wellness lifestyle was starting to catch on and gain momentum in London with healthy cafes opening, boutique fitness taking off and brands like Whole Foods, Equinox and Lululemon entering the UK market. So I started obsessively reading, writing and thinking about it, figuring out how I could start a business in that space. I set out to connect with anyone influencing the future of the industry - and from there created Welltodo. The rest has unfolded as a direct response to what our readers want and need.
And the Business of Wellness Summit, tell us a bit about this?
I launched the Welltodo Founder Series last year, a monthly gathering for wellness startups and entrepreneurs - where we'd spotlight three successful founders in a sort of fireside Q&A session - discussing how they'd got started, build their brands and challenges faced along the way. The series was a huge success and so when two friends suggested to scale that into something bigger that would appeal to big brands and investors as well, we decided to launch the Business of Wellness Summit. It's the first globally focused conference for startups, brand leaders and investors to discuss the business of wellness. We're bringing 500 people together, with 30+ speakers, to spark intelligent conversation about the future of the wellness industry, and inspire growth and innovation.
What are the highlights of your journey so far or highlights generally of running a wellness business?
Wellness is now so multi-dimensional and as an industry it crosses so many sectors; from technology and travel right through to food/drink, fitness and fashion. People are now much more aware of how preventable many lifestyle diseases are and how simple choices can have a huge impact. What I love is how many new businesses are emerging in response to that, and how big brands are pivoting as well. It is so incredibly rewarding building a business which sits in the epicentre of such a fast-growing global industry (now worth $3.4 trillion).
Main challenges of running a wellness business?
Like running any kind of business, there are highs and lows and it's certainly a rollercoaster ride. The wellness industry can be quite contentious since the tangible outcomes for consumers are often difficult to measure (how do you quantify feeling better) and what works for one person might not work for another; and so as an industry it can been seen as fluffy and unsubstantiated. Our mission (and challenge) is to spotlight brands that are high impact and authentic, but that are also commercially successful.
Your top five fitness joints in London?
Xtend Barre is about to open its first flagship studio in London (on Marylebone High St) and have a fantastic pop-up in Mayfair running until opening. I also love working out at Equinox, Barry's Bootcamp, Form Studios (Elissa, the founder, is an incredible trainer), and for an oasis in the heart of London I head to Triyoga in Soho.
Your top five places for a healthy feast in London?
My friend Camilla Fayed just opened a beautiful new plant-based restaurant in Notting Hill called Farmacy (with a great cocktail menu as well)! I'd also suggest heading to the Good Life Eatery, Granger & Co (for when I'm missing a good Aussie brunch), The Detox Kitchen and Raw Press too.
Your top five health/wellness London bloggers to keep an eye on? Some of my favourite bloggers (all friends now really) turned their blogs into incredibly impressive businesses - be it food products or recipe books - like Annie Clarke (Mind Body Bowl), Chelsea Parsons (Well + Happy), Ella Mills (Deliciously Ella), Fab Giovanetti (The Health Bloggers Community) and Alice Liveing (Clean Eating Alice).
Top tips for growing an online business? Firstly, just start! And then make sure to reflect often to ensure that what you're doing is still in line with your bigger picture goals and ambitions.
Food you can't live without?
Coffee, chocolate and wine (oops).
Strangest thing you've ever done?
I went to the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival in New Zealand once. I was pretty adventurous and ate a live grass hopper, a huhu grub, and colostrum ice cream. All good for you as far as I know!
What's next for Welltodo?
We want to grow the Welltodo brand beyond the UK. The first step is running the Business of Wellness Summit in New York later in the year - and expanding our content to reflect a more global wellness industry perspective.
WE LOVE YOU SO MATCHA!