Our popular Meet the client series reveals the inside story on the companies we support with legal services. We caught up with Geeta Sidhu-Robb, who tells us how she founded wellness brand Nosh Detox in adversity, launching as the UK’s first allergy-friendly food delivery company, and diversifying into juice fasts, IV drip clinics, health coaching and online learning.
Name and job title
Geeta Sidhu-Robb, Founder and CEO, Nosh Detox
What is it your company does?
Nosh Detox helps successful women over 40 to feel better, get stronger, show up more confidently and become more successful. We work from an emotional and physical standpoint: you tell us what your problem is, and we make and deliver the solution. Our products are detox food and juice programmes and IV vitamin drips. I also coach senior women. I help them to become much more successful. I’m originally a lawyer, but I retrained as a health coach.
Who do you work with?
Our clients are almost exclusively women and we’ve helped 15,000 people get their lives back on track. Everyone comes through the door saying ‘I need to lose weight.’ And I say: that’s not what your problem is. The problem is always in the mind, but we think it’s in our bodies. We start with food, and progress to life and business. If you can’t strengthen your body, your mind doesn’t feel safe enough to change and grow. And if you feel unsafe, your body can’t support the change your mind wants. Body and mind are not separate. One of my clients, for example, ran huge financial services company and credits me as helping take her company into an IPO. 98% of our clients meet their weight loss and energy goals.
How long have you been in business and how has your business grown?
I set up the business 11 years ago. We started with food, then we got asked to do juices. The first juices we produced were very nutritious and good for you, but they didn’t look very nice! Our juice products slowly evolved from there. We were the first company to deliver gluten and dairy-free food in the UK, we launched the first-ever juice fast delivery in 2008 and then we opened the first UK IV vitamin drip clinic in 2013. We spend a lot of time innovating.
What inspired you to start/join your business?
My son was very ill and had an allergic reaction to his vaccinations. He had a cardio-respiratory arrest, anaphylaxis, asthma and eczema. At the time, the medics couldn’t give me any solutions, so I decided to try fix him myself, with food. I couldn’t cook – my mother was an amazing Indian cook, so I’d never had to learn. I reinvented myself as a raw food chef. I healed my son from eczema and asthma, and he’s not had an anaphylactic reaction for 15 years. I went on to write a book about allergy-free food, which didn’t exist at the time. I was working a consultant to make money following my divorce, but I wanted to build something. So I set up NOSH: we turned around in six weeks on a £2000 overdraft. If I had thought about it, I wouldn’t have done it. We advertised for a chef – he came for an interview, we gave him the job and he started next day. Someone delivered something to my house and I employed them as our delivery driver! We had no money so the business had to work, which really focuses the mind.
What have been the biggest recent challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
Brexit was a huge problem for us. We had just launched our range of cold-pressed raw juices in UK supermarkets. The juices had short shelf lives and most of our ingredients came from Holland. Our margins were something ridiculous like 14% – which is really low for retail. After the Brexit vote in June 2016, the pound dropped 19% overnight. We started to lose money hand over fist, got into debt and ended up paying supermarkets to keep our product. The juices were one of their best-sellers, but in the end, I had to close it down. We weren’t the only ones caught out. Brexit really hurt my business, but it actually led to me becoming involved with the People’s Vote Campaign. (I was Deputy Chair of the largest political movement in the country last year.) Luckily we managed to turn Nosh around, because I have incredible staff. Myself and my COO ran the company for ages – we did 12 jobs between us. I don’t think we took a day off for a year. We cut costs, we hunkered down, we culled products. We decided we want to rebuild our business differently – and focus on profitability, rather than growth.
What are your hopes/goals for the next 1-3 years?
Like with everything you do, there will be some incredible good that comes out of this current situation we find ourselves in with COVID-19. We are planning to develop more Nosh Detox e-learning programmes – we’ve already launched online courses on how to eat vegan, keto and how to raise your energy x 10 this year. I also have plans to create an online space to help women find balance in a time of chaos. I think women function better in communities. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get women from all over the world together in a group talking about what their lives?
What has it been like to work with Harper James? Tell us about your experience.
It’s been phenomenal. We moved from another firm. As an ex-lawyer myself, I was looking for intelligent, fast feedback on things I couldn’t do myself. Every step of the way, Harper James have fulfilled that promise – they’ve been so responsive. It’s run as a business, not as a law firm. Anyone who’s been near a law firm knows the difference. It’s a real pleasure.