In 2013 Ilana and Michael founded Snact, the deliciously sustainable snack company. They buy ugly and unwanted fruit from British farmers to act on food waste. The fruit is blended into smoothies then dried into tasty fruit jerky (which counts towards your 5 a day) on a family farm in Kent. The jerky is vegan and gluten free, they don’t use any concentrates, additives, or preservatives and their packaging is home compostable to reduce waste even further.
Ilana says: I wish I was an early riser! But no, I’m not really ‘morning person’. I usually get up around 7-7.30 and definitely find it easier in the spring and summer when the sun is shining. In the winter, I just want to hibernate. The first thing I usually do is press the snooze button on my alarm and snuggle up in my duvet for an extra 15 minutes. It’s probably not the best way to start the day but I always check my Snact emails with breakfast and lay out what I have planned for the day. My commute is pretty easy, I cycle from my flat to our shared office space in London Bridge which is about 20-25 minutes – I much prefer that to taking the tube. I found that changing to cycling from taking the tube definitely improved my quality of life in London!
I co-founded Snact with Michael (Minch-Dixon). Both of us have environmental/sustainability backgrounds – we both did MSc’s in Environmental Technology and worked in sustainability related roles. I’ve had an interest in environmentalism for a long while – I don’t really remember when that started, at school I took classes called environmental studies. In my early 20s, I started reading more and more about our agriculture etc and I became more and more passionate about wanting to do something about the state of it. Michael has a similar drive to improve our food system. It’s quite broken and that’s what inspired Snact. With Snact, we’re targeting a specific issue within this system – food waste. How do you realistically take the jump to start your own business? Just start doing! Start small – we did (on a tiny scale by going to wholesale markets to get produce, making snacks ourselves & selling them at markets). By starting something, you’ll discover what needs to be done next and whether you really want to do it. And very importantly, find something you really care about.
My favourite part of this job is knowing that everything we see and do is the results of our team’s work. There are only 5 of us so everything about Snact is the direct result of something we’ve done, whether it’s bringing in a new product or saving 150 tonnes of fruit! My least favourite part is making decisions. When you have your own business, you constantly need to make choices and weigh up different options, risks, opportunities. That’s obviously hugely exciting but it can be exhausting as well. Maybe the best advice I’ve recieved is: People won’t remember if you ask a question about something you don’t know how to do, but people will remember if you make a mistake. Or something along those lines! Basically implying that you should never be afraid to ask for help – and I think that’s true, there are always people willing to help whether it’s related to work or personal matters and there really is no shame in getting help from people. I never hesitate to admit if I don’t know something.
We don’t really have a lunchtime routine as it depends who from the team is at the office, it varies quite a lot. There’s a great café on Bermondsey street that does a mix of delicious salads and they change them up every week, that’s usually what I go for! Of course my favourite snack is Snact! I have to plug my own product here! We’re working on some new snacks which we will launch this summer which I am very excited about.
What I do in the evenings/weekends depends so much on the day/week/month. I’m strict about not working on weekends (unless we have events like trade shows) but evenings I will work if work needs to be done. I go to the gym and do weight training or classes at least a couple of times a week, I like to change it up so I don’t get bored. I cycle and walk my dog. In the summer I hang out outside as much as possible. I played guitar for a while but haven’t had time to pick it much lately, I need to find time for it again! I wouldn’t say I have a cooking routine but I do cook at home a lot. Mostly dinner but I make packed lunches as well, depending on what the week looks like. I love making homemade granola, or a batch of buckwheat pancakes for a few breakfasts. My dinners are mostly vegetarian and I’m trying to cook more and more vegan meals. Because of Snact, I get exposed to lots of new exciting products and trends in the food industry – it’s amazing to see how narrow our vision of food has become/actually is, but I think it’s changing. There is so much more diversity in food than we’re accustomed to.
I don’t really remember having an idea of a dream job as a child and today I can’t imagine doing anything other than trying to work on environmental and social change in some capacity – that’s obviously a super broad remit as it can pretty much encompass any aspect of life! If I didn’t feel I was having an impact, I wouldn’t want to keep doing what I’m doing. I admire projects rather than a person in particular. I’m inspired by lots of my peers, whether they’re developing urbans farms like my friends at GrowUp and Growing Underground, or some of the teams/businesses I share an office space with at Sustainable Bridges. I was really inspired when I read Patagonia founder Yvon Chouniard’s memoir where he talks about how he created one of the most responsible companies in the world. There are lots of people doing things to improve their communities, the environment around them or the world – from big to small with local to global impact – that I come across every day that inspire me.
My top three online recommendations are:
Olio – an app for sharing food
Mark Manson has some interesting articles on life
I don’t actually do yoga but if I did Yogaia, online yoga classes with real teachers in real time!