On 16th January 2015 it will be three years since I took the plunge into the great unknown and started my own business. Anyone who’s taken this plunge into self-employment will understand what a huge leap it is, but also what an amazingly satisfying decision it can be too.
Pudology was born out of a passion for food. I wanted to create a dessert that anyone could enjoy – regardless of their dietary requirements.
Over the weekend we’ve had some interesting discussions with some of our vegan Twitter followers. They were upset by a post that included a Christmas turkey as they are vegan. It certainly wasn’t meant to offend; it was a post about dairy and gluten-free eating at this festive time of year.
We have a wide variety of followers and we have also shared many vegan posts and blogs as well. We really like the vegan community and support them as much as possible!
But it got me thinking… maybe I should explain what Pudology is all about…
The Pudology Team
First off, let me tell you who works at Pudology as of today:
- Me: Lucy Wager. I’m 32, live with my lovely, incredibly understanding husband and very fluffy grey cat called Nala.
- Bill: My unbelievably amazing Dad. Bill works tirelessly with me. He’s my support, my mentor and I’ve never met anyone that can get up so early in the morning!
- Maria: My wonderful, gorgeous Mum. We do all the shows together. She’s my numero uno sales woman. Maria knows the product inside out. We have so much fun at shows even though they’re long and very hard work!
- Todd and Jo: My right-hand technical and website people who also help me with keeping customers up-to-date and informed online.
- Karen: She’s been with me for very nearly a year now and I couldn’t do it without her! She’s a busy Mum as well as a busy Pudologist!
- Alan: Cooking maestro. He keeps my creations perfect every time!
- Robert: Our newest recruit, Robert helps us with deliveries and managing our ingredients.
We’re a small but perfectly formed team. We all muck in as and when required. Running a small business definitely means being a jack-of-all-trades and having a great team enables Pudology to exist and grow.
Lucy Wager – owner, creator and dairy and egg intolerant at Pudology
I’ve always loved food, so it wasn’t a surprise to any of my friends or family when I decided to study for a Food and Consumer Management degree. Back in 2004 I was thrilled to get my very first job in the food industry working as a concept development technologist for a large manufacturer, specialising in dips, dressing and salads.
I worked with all the big retailers and had a very exciting year and a half. I soon realised that I was definitely working in the right industry. I was making loads of new friends who had similar loves as I did and life was good!
It wasn’t long before I was offered a job with Sainsbury’s and so I moved to London and started my first Product Development job – oh, how I loved it!
In the few years that followed I also worked for Marks and Spencer and I travelled to incredible places like Vietnam, Thailand, Italy and India. I explored tastes and cuisines and figured out new trends and products for the UK consumer – I was in my element.
My diet became my issue
The life of a product developer is fun and rewarding but it’s not great on your digestive system. You eat a lot, and I mean a lot! If you get poorly work becomes tricky. This in essence is what happened to me.
In 2009 I had appendicitis. It wasn’t as straightforward as it could have been so I took longer to recover. Then six months later I had campylobacter (nasty food poisoning) and to cut a very long story short, I was very poorly for over a year.
I went from someone who could and would eat everything to someone who couldn’t eat anything, and I really mean that. I was never fat, but I lost so much weight my clothes hung off me. I struggled to find anything I could eat and still felt OK with afterwards.
Rice became (and still is) my best friend. Dairy was an absolute no-no, as was gluten, meat, eggs, bananas, avocados and anything that contained any of the above. Limited was an understatement -especially for someone who literally lived and breathed food.
Before this happened I ate out most nights, I ate all day at work, and I talked about food all day at work. Life suddenly became really quite sad… and if I’m honest, I started to feel like I was losing my way.
After about eight months I realised that continuing to be a product developer probably wasn’t good for my body or mind. I was increasingly aware that I wasn’t doing such a great job at work. I felt so guilty because all my colleagues and my wonderful boss at the time were so supportive. I felt I was letting everyone down.
I made a radical life decision and moved out of London up to Cheshire and left my job.
Asian cuisine, Cheshire and Chocolate
For a year I worked as a recruitment consultant – it was a big change but I loved it. I met some great people and I learned even more about the food industry.
Meanwhile, I was getting much better in myself. My diet became less restrictive because I was able to manage it so much better, and my creativity and zest for life re-emerged! This is when I started to really miss desserts. I’d spent well over a year just trying to get through the day without horrific cramps and nausea and other such unpleasantness.
I had honed my diet so well that by this point that I knew as long as I stayed WELL away from dairy and eggs I would be ok. Slowly my love of food and the joy it can bring came back, and with that the need for dessert!
My experience with Asian cuisine had given me a great insight into interesting desserts using coconut milk and a few experiments quickly resulted in developing my first puds. Chocolate Orange was my first because I love orange with chocolate. I started sharing them with friends and family and they were a real hit.
I realised then that I had a job to do. I needed to spread some love back into the world for people who had restrictive diets. It had been a real eye-opener for me to be so limited, and I realised that there were so many other people out there who also struggled.
When you’re ‘normal’ you take for granted the chocolate bar you have in your lunchbox or the fish and chips that you’ve just picked up from the chippy.
When you have a restricted diet, be it a choice you personally make or a choice your body makes, you don’t have many choices.
But when someone offers you a chocolate bar that you can actually eat that won’t make you feel poorly, or doesn’t go against your religious or your ethical beliefs, your day suddenly gets a whole lot better.
This is what I wanted to do. I wanted to offer something to everyone and anyone, something that we can all enjoy. That’s what food has always meant to me; it’s about bringing people together.
That’s why I tried to make my desserts as accessible as possible, and why I’m striving for that more and more.
Most recently we have gained Kosher accreditation and I’m currently looking into Halal accreditation.
I’m really strict about the use of nuts because I think you should be able to make great desserts that are nut-free that everyone can enjoy. I try and source the best and the most ethical ingredients that I possibly can.
I’m not a vegan – I’m just ‘free from’ a few things!
I used to feel really nervous about admitting that. Because Pudology is suitable for vegans as I cook without egg (because I’m allergic) some of our vegan customers assume that I am also vegan – but I’m not.
I’m dairy-free but not Vegan.
After lots of conversations I’ve realised that was an unjustified feeling.
Like me, vegans and other people on plant-based diets are just as thrilled to find a tasty treats they can enjoy.
After speaking to many vegans I’ve also come to realise how fantastic it is for me, a non-vegan, to be promoting a plant-based diet.
Pudology is offering something that wasn’t out there before, making a lifestyle choice that little bit easier.
So am I going to become vegan?
The interesting thing about my journey in the last three years is I’ve learnt so much about veganism and plant-based diets that it’s real area of interest for me now. I do a lot of shows, some of which are vegan, like Vegfest, which is a big favourite of mine. There’s always an air of celebration at Vegfest which is quite unique and I just love that Pudology can be a part of that.
I do also have a strong following of dairy and gluten-free fans who do eat meat and try to enjoy a diet consumed by the majority. But that doesn’t stop me wanted to shout about veganism and it doesn’t stop me wanting to support Veganuary.
For me it’s all about choice. You can choose to eat what you like… or at least you can if your body permits it! That’s why I created Pudology, so you can have desserts even if you’re intolerant to dairy or vegan, Kosher and soon Halal too.
It’s your choice and I respect that.
I’ve created a company where you can have desserts even if your diet restricts it.
So, where do I want the business to go?
I want Pudology to be enjoyed by everyone, and not just in the UK.
We’re looking at export as we speak, Europe first and then who knows where.
The things I know for sure are I love what I do. I want to make people happy with my puds and I believe that no one should miss out just because they can’t or don’t eat dairy!
I hope that makes sense, and please feel free to leave me comments below.