Welcome to EW’s weekly series of ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and businesswomen both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths that led them to where they are now; what their daily routines look like; the advice they’d give to those starting out and the hurdles they’ve had to overcome.

This week we chat with the founder of Wild & The Moon and Comptoir 102 – a lifestyle café combining fashion, jewellery, home décor and healthy food. Emma Sawko’s passion for healthy eating stemmed into something beautiful, as this 100 per cent plant-based food concept continues to make sustainable development desirable for all.

EW sat down with the woman behind two of the healthiest hotspots in the UAE, which has soon become a contemporary eatery serving authentic dishes for all those interested in clean eating and a healthy wellbeing through concepts that were earlier missing in the emirate.

 

 

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What was your favourite subject at school?

Philosophy as it’s the framework in which we can understand the world and act on it in our own life.

What was your first job?

My very first job was in a big advertisement company. First in Paris, and then constantly travelling to New York until we moved there as a family. I quit because I wanted to go solo and start a business on my own.

Emma Sawko - Wild & The Moon

Can you talk us through the inspiration behind Wild & The Moon?

When I opened my first concept store in Dubai, Comptoir 102, I wanted to bring all the things I missed from Paris and New York: designers I loved, furniture, jewellery, fashion, clean beauty products… And because I was not happy with the food choices around here, I decided to also have a café serving the healthy food I’m generally used to. At the time, I thought it would be just me and a few friends eating there but it ended up being a huge success. I saw the interest for healthy plant-based food growing tremendously in just a couple of years and this is how I decided to take it a step further and open Wild & The Moon.

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

I wanted to have control over my own work environment which was for me equivalent of freedom in my life. After becoming a mother, I also realised that I wanted to create an ethical and respectful environment in terms of work values, sustainability and ecology.

Emma Sawko - Wild & The Moon

What did you believe was missing in the wellness space in Dubai and the UAE that inspired you to launch Wild & The Moon?

When I opened Comptoir 102’s café, we were the first and only one in Dubai and I believe, the UAE- to serve 100% real, organic, healthy food, mostly vegetarian with a lot of raw and vegan options. I had just landed on planet fast-food and many people laughed at my idea to go green! What inspired me to launch Wild & the Moon was our customers’ enthusiasm. They started coming to Comptoir 102 for the shop but would come back for the food. We were meant to open just for lunch but had to extend hours; breakfast, afternoon tea and then dinner. Then put more tables, push the walls and started winning a lot of awards for the best healthy restaurant in the region with people still wanting more. So, I then decided to open Wild & The Moon with it, while building a real community around 100% plant-based, organic foods to raise awareness around issues of sustainability or the environment.

What are the key elements of your role?

I am the creative mind behind my concepts and having the best business partners to take of everything that I call “the headache sides’, I work a lot with chefs and nutritionists, but I’m always experimenting with food myself. I love to create recipes and play with new tastes, if I try something delicious, I always want to create a healthier version of it. This part, I’m not ready to give up. I am also constantly on the look-out for good producers as I want my food to be as local as possible, to limit our carbon footprint. But really, when you create concepts or brands from scratch, it’s so much work, you do a bit of everything: events, social media, management, design and architecture.

Talk us through your daily routine.

I start the day with one hour of sport; either yoga or boxing with my trainer every single day. I then jump in the shower, grab a vegan protein shake before going to work and basically run all day between office, restaurant locations, meetings and planes since I need to split my time between Paris and Dubai.Before going home, I try to have a little time off just by myself, a walk through the park or on the beach. I need this time to reset, reconnect with nature and let all the work stuff go before I go home to be with my family or my friends.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?

Believe in yourself and follow your instinct.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men and women to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

And what is the worst?

“But you need to have at least diet coke on your menus”

What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

In the UAE, obviously, local organic produce is scarce because we work with local and seasonal produce, we constantly have to update the menus. However, in comparison to Paris, Dubai is a fabulous playground to start entrepreneurship.

What are the future plans for your brand?

Continue to grow, personally and professionally, individually and as a team, while always being in line with our values. We definitely want organic, healthy and sustainable food to be more widespread. People ask us a lot to open in various locations in the world, and yes, we intend on growing our tribe.

Wild & The Moon is located across three different venues which include Alserkal Avenue, Emaar Downtown and DIFC, for more information on their latest offerings you can visit wildandthemoon.ae

The unique healthy café and concept store, Comptoir 102, is situated in Jumeirah 1 and for more information on their offerings visit comptoir102.com

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Feature image: Supplied