In my final business woman interview of 2020, I share my interview with Louise Palmer-Masterton of Stem and Glory.
Tell us a little about your childhood and teenager years
I was born in Devon and lived an idyllic life there until I was 8 years old. My family then moved twice in quick succession, first to Cambridgeshire, then to Oxfordshire. The second move landed me to a primary school with an ambitious headmaster who spotted something in me. I sat the entrance exams for Christ’s Hospital, and got in. I then spent my years from 11-18 at a boarding school, which was an interesting experience. I left school very independent, and that has stayed with me my whole life.
What was your first job? What did you learn from this?
My very first job was in a bakery at the age of 14. I learned how one kind word can change an entire day. It was a valuable customer service lesson. I did a string of jobs when I was young, mostly in hospitality and leisure. One sexist boss too many put me on the path of self-employment for the rest of my working life.
What led to you setting up your business?
For reasons explained above, I’ve been in control of my own destiny since my early 20’s. I’ve run a wide variety of self-employments and a number of businesses over the years. Quite diverse, from an arts-funded digital arts company back in the days when digital tech was brand new, to a multi-site leisure business that was my first exit last year. My current business Stem & Glory is my favourite though. I’ve been hugely passionate about cooking all my life, and of course I am a very long-term vegan.
What are your products and/or services?
We have two vegan restaurant locations in Cambridge and London. We serve healthy and quite original cuisine. We are about to launch a UK-wide distribution of ready meals and cook at home dining.
What makes your business special?
I spent nearly 40 years trying to find a decent vegan restaurant. I didn’t find one, so I created the restaurant I had always been looking for. We fill a niche for non-junk vegan that is healthy whilst still being delicious. In my young days as a vegan, healthy and delicious were mutually exclusive.
What tip would you give to someone who wants to set up a business but lacks self-belief?
Everyone lacks self-belief. My advice is feel the fear and do it anyway. Don’t think everyone else has got it all sorted, they really haven’t. Persistence is the number one trait in succeeding.
How do you ensure you look after yourself properly? What do you do for self-care?
I am a long-term yoga and mindfulness practitioner. As I have got older my practices tend to be more every moment of every day rather than doing ‘sessions’ as such. I believe this is the key to happiness – mindfulness in daily life. I also love massage.
Who supported you as you set up your business?
My family and my husband’s family. They have stood by me every step of the way. Many other people have helped me over the years with generous support and advice, many that I do not even know that well. In turn, I like to play it forward and help and support others to achieve their goals.
What things would you like to see change about the position of women in society?
That’s a very big question! A good start would be to abolish gender completely. Gender is a social construct and serves no useful purpose. And abolish titles (Mr, Ms, etc.)
If you could recommend ONE book to women what would it be and why?
Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ is a pretty inspiring book that all people should read.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Louise Palmer-Masterton is founder of multiple award-winning restaurants Stem & Glory; hip and trendy but accessible plant-based restaurants, serving delicious gourmet vegan food from locally sourced ingredients, 100% made on site. Stem & Glory also offers click-and-collect and local delivery in London and Cambridge. www.stemandglory.uk
Linked in: /louisepalmer-masterton