Meet Debbie and Nigel Stowe, co-founders of Olive and Ash and their consumer product, Vince - one of the companies in our 2021 Cohort A.
Serial entrepreneurs, the team met at University where Nigel was earning his degree in business management, and Deb was about to begin her degree to become a Chef. The team has since owned and operated a cafe, which they successfully ran and exited before starting Olive and Ash (named after their children Olivia and Ashley).
The team and power couple behind the veggie mince Vince, haven't always felt that being plant-based was right for them. Despite having intolerances to dairy and gluten, they ate everything.
However, everything changed when their daughter Olivia developed severe eczema. After sleepless nights, tag-team wrapping her sores, and countless hours of research, they were willing to try anything.
As they had been told it was environmental and genetic, not dietary! They ripped up all the carpet, addressed their allergies and became gluten and dairy-free.
It was heartbreaking for them as parents when they saw no change.
Then on a family vacation, Deb and Nigel noticed that their daughter's eczema was clearing and that they, too, were feeling a lot better.
What did it boil down to? Diet.
So when the team got home, they got into the kitchen and eventually, after an eight year vegetarianism health journey, which made them realise they were unhappy with the available options in the market, they created Vince.
While the team now has a diet that is the majority plant-based with a little bit of meat, they believe that leaving meat out of Vince is the opposite of a big ‘missed-steak’ - with reports suggesting that the alternative meat sector is set to grow to $23.2 Billion by 2024!
Vince's goals are aligned with optimising this sector's growth too. Within five years the team hopes to have established sales across the US, Asia, and the UK, while also using the business to bring money back to New Zealand. Including bringing money to the Northland region by creating jobs, training people, and creating a community-focused ethical business.
They plan to do this by continuing to do what they have learnt over their experience so far -ask questions, filter advice, and challenge and support each other.
In the medium to long term the team at Olive and Ash are building towards developing strong partnerships throughout New Zealand, and for their supply chain to move to being entirely New Zealand based. A challenging goal, especially considering they currently source some of their core products from overseas, including organic tomatoes from Italy.
Excitingly, they also plan on having an extended range of products hitting the shelves soon, which includes a flexitarian product - a mix between meat and veggies.
We can't wait to see more from the passionate team behind Vince and look forward to what's to come!