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News > Alumnae > Old Queens Series: Emily Warburton-Adams

Old Queens Series: Emily Warburton-Adams

Emily Warburton-Adams (OQ 2012) is the Co-Founder of POW Food, London's first impact-driven wellness food company. She talks about running her own business, lockdown and the dangers of social media.
30 Apr 2021
Written by Afiyah Alim

Emily is the Co-Founder and Head of Sustainability at POW Food. POW Food has sustainability, responsible sourcing and good nutrition at its core, they work to reduce and manage food waste and for every purchase a donation is made to their charity partner, City Harvest, to help feed underprivileged school children. This initiative continued during the pandemic, for every meal bought by a customer, POW Food produced fresh meals for NHS staff as well as vulnerable communities. You can order healthy and delicious ready meals from POW Foods, getting 15% off with ‘POWQUEENS15’. 

What was your journey from Queen’s to POW? 

After school, I decided not to go to university at the time and instead went to work on Superyachts in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. I was a Second Stewardess, Crew Cook and Massage Therapist. It was a lot of fun!  

I was always interested in the power of nutrition through my personal learning experience while recovering from an eating disorder and I decided to train as a Nutrition Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I then returned home and joined forces with my mother, who had run a high-end events and catering company for 25 years; together we set up POW. We have an aligned ethos and vision, but different experience and I learn so much through her, it’s extremely fulfilling. 

What is a typical day like for a co-founder and Head of Sustainability at POW? 

When you’re running your own business there isn’t a set day, but this business is what I live for and it’s my drive. Every day is different, I’m on my own schedule and sometimes it’s a nine-hour day, other times it’s 18.  

I work across the board with different elements of the business, both from home and some days and our onsite premises, alongside the POW business partner who is also my mother (pictured).  

As Head of Sustainability, I focus on working with our team to source responsible produce and products and manage our waste systems which is a huge issue in the catering world. We have a partnership with City Harvest where every purchase triggers a donation and any surplus food is also delivered to local charities. Food waste from client events and prep is recycled into fertiliser to be used on local farms. So sometimes I’m managing that, other times is working with clients, implementing new systems, designing new menus with our nutritionist and recipe trialling.  

There’s also the marketing element of the business as well, so I liaise with our marketing consultant, partner and our marketing assistant. We look at our upcoming campaigns, collaborations, partnerships and key dates, and then align these with our content plan for social media, PR and mail-outs. 

Days are rather diverse and I try to compartmentalise actions so that I don’t get overwhelmed! There are meetings scheduled at certain times and blocks in the day just to focus on admin. Then sometimes (a lot) suddenly the day will change and I’m on my feet because something pops up and has to be prioritised. Phone calendars are my best friend but I write down a daily task list so that tasks can be crossed off. 

How have you adapted your work and life over the last year? 

We had the choice to shut down and furlough our staff, as most food businesses did. But we decided to keep going. Our partners at City Harvest really struggled as 300 charities and organisations closed pretty much overnight when everyone panicked and there was a food shortage. The usual establishments were no longer donating food and we formed quite a strong partnership with them at this time. We were providing meals for City Harvest, different charities, the NHS and the Royal Marsden Hospital who were really overwhelmed with cancer patients and a backlog of treatments. 

While we sustained some clients, we lost some from lots of industries who stopped office food or going to work, as well as business from events! We had to think of a way of reaching new people, so we developed a healthy frozen ready meal range. Initially, we were selling to consumers and over time we then moved to B2B sales as well. This was directed at companies buying their employees food as they worked from home. 

It was a very busy lockdown and we didn't really have days off, but it was a close-knit family affair! It was a nice simple life at home, where we working and walking the dog and being grateful for being together.  

Do you have any advice that you would like to share with the Queen’s community about nutrition, wellness and mental health? 

My advice is to remember that everyone's completely individual. These days there are so many cookie-cutter fad diets and formulas to live a happier life or be well, but it's really about listening to your body and being in tune with what's right for you, because we're not all the same, we're so different. 

It’s very easy to compare ourselves with others, especially with social media. I think there's a lot of fear around how your body has changed and people’s mindset has changed over lockdown. It’s a lot to take in and the important this is being kind to yourself and not compare yourself to others. It’s about looking in and doing what makes you feel good. 

You have a significant following on social media - how do you navigate that? 

When the platform grew, I had to adapt quickly and decided to use this platform for things I think are important, so I speak about mental health, sustainability and conscious living. I love aligning with female-run, forward-thinking sustainable companies and connecting with people on it so it does have a positive value. 

Over this lockdown, I have really seen the other side of social media habits, so one thing I would say is that you have to take your social media into your own hands and only follow accounts that make you feel good. It can be a toxic cycle, there is so much negative content out there and a lot of inauthenticity. At the end of the day, it can really harm your self-worth and the image you have yourself.  

It can also be positive - it’s about kind of curating something that’s right for you! 

Do you have any fond memories to share of Queen’s? 

I came to Queen’s after boarding school and it was a real safe haven, I have got amazing lifelong friends from my time at the College. I love the entrepreneurial programme we did, I got to work on some really good projects, selling hoodies to UCL students in Camden Market that we designed and then imported from Paris. We also had a wonderful History of Art trip to Antwerp. 

I was scouted to run for Heathside Athletics through Queen’s and was very supported and encouraged to reach my potential. I entered this Psychology essay writing competition through Cambridge and won, writing about ‘How Life Experiences Affect Your Personality’. I did well in my A-Levels and I loved it there. Queen’s really helped me see what I was capable of. 

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