How she did it

Wild & The Moon is a lifestyle movement created by a tribe of food lovers, chefs, nutritionists and naturopaths. Treat your inner healthy soul to some of the finest food that’s good for not just you, but for the planet. Wild, local, gluten-free, ethically sourced, seasonal and plant-based ingredients that bring a little bit of nature in busy lives, and it’s absolutely delicious.

Not only has the business grown rapidly in Dubai, New York and Paris, it also has some famous fans such as designer Stella McCartney – she has previously asked them to cater backstage at one of her fashion shows.

wild and moon dubai healthy vegan food

It’s founder is entrepreneur Emma Sawko who moved from New York to Dubai back in 2012. Feeling homesick and fed-up with the food scene in the city, she decided to open the very popular Comptoir 102. Wild & The Moon was her next venture which now has three locations in Dubai. Below she talks us through her inspiration and what we can always find in her fridge.

What was your favourite subject at school?

Philosophy. In the French system, this subject is only taught in the last year of high school, but for me it was a revelation. In most subjects we were fed information and had to spit it back. During philosophy classes however, we were allowed to think by ourselves, challenged to question everything. I kept this approach later in life; by questioning information I’m being fed but also questioning myself.

What was your first job?

My first job was working in a global advertising agency. I was young, working hard, partying harder, with loads of energy. Oh the glorious years of invincible youth!

What inspired you to launch wild & the Moon?

I opened my first restaurant in my concept store, Comptoir 102 in Dubai. In the beginning it was just meant to be a little cantine (café) for my friends, my family and I, because I couldn’t find any healthy places to eat, except my home when I landed in Dubai. It was (and still is) simple, organic homemade-style food with a daily menu of 2 options depending on the market. I thought (and was told) Dubaiers were not into healthy food so I would never have clients. But I sticked to my plan, or call it my convictions. And people came and loved it. Soon enough, all my friends’ girlfriends came, brought their kids, their husbands and more friends. In addition to the daily changing menu, we created a carte with loads of salads, healthy snacks, homemade nutmilk smoothies, superfood juices. And we had to make more space, bring more chairs, more tables. Then people asked for our recipes, and advices and so we set up workshops with our chefs and nutritionists. Until I decided to open a bigger space to accommodate everyone. This time, I didn’t want it to be just a little café. I realised how people really needed the information about what was on their plates. There was a global consciousness rising about the environment, the way our food is grown and no one in the F&B industry seemed to really care about it. I decided I would. This is how Wild & the Moon was born. I wanted to offer real food 100% organic, pure, without pesticides or GMOs or antibiotics.

wild and moon dubai healthy vegan food

What are the key elements of your role?

They call me the creative mind and I had a very clear vision of what I wanted this concept to be, from the very start. From the food, the plates it is on, the design, the architecture, the vibes, the name of the juices, everything! In Comptoir 102, I brought my own recipes and I did the same in Wild & the Moon. But I have been working with an amazing team as well: chefs, nutritionists, designers or architects, and the best possible two business partners.

Talk us through your daily routine

I still work a lot but party a lot less than I used to when I was in my 20s. But I am also way more balanced; I realise now, as I get wiser, that to keep your sanity, you need to maintain that subtle equilibrium. I work-out every day but I also recently started to meditate. I work a lot but also try to get adequate amounts of sleep. I get out sometimes but love a good read in bed and a cup of herbal tea just as much.

Outside from that, I have to admit that nothing yet quite approaches what we could call a “routine”. I have to split my time between Dubai and Paris and have to travel in many other places for my work in between. Some days I have meetings from 9am to 9pm, back to back, some days I am bound on a plane with my MacBook on my lap, trying not to spill my matcha latte mug on it. Some days I’m running between catwalks thinking of the next buys for the shop, and the catering for all the fashion crowd. Everyday is some kind of new adventure. That’s where balance comes in handy: eat good food, get 7 hours of sleep, be surrounded by good people, do some sport and take time for meditation. And oh, don’t take anything too seriously.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Wild & The Moon (@wildandthemoon) on

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

Take one step after the other. For me it was a long journey and it started while I was still in New York with that idea haunting me. When I launched my first café, I did it with humility. I started small and learned from my mistakes as I was going along. It gave me the confidence to grow a little bigger before taking a big leap of faith. And I still have a long way to go; I want to develop my brand -and more importantly this way of eating- more globally. But in essence, you have to start somewhere, keeping your eyes riveted on your objective and standing up each time you stumble, as it is part of the dance.

What can we always find in your fridge?

My friends tease me about this when they come home, saying there is nothing edible in my fridge! And to be honest it isn’t far from the truth: we eat fresh food every day, so I don’t really stock fruits and veggies in there, yet the fridge is always full. I make my own almond milk in batch because we use it for smoothies, lattes, cakes so there is always a bottle or two in the fridge. I also keep nuts and seeds there to prevent them going rancid and there is a dozen bags of these in there right now (chia, flax, poppy, sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, brazil, hazelnuts, etc.) along with the cold-pressed oil bottles (CBD, avocado, sesame, linseed). Of course, I keep my superfoods -which I use in smoothies or hot drinks- there too (acai, spirulina and other blends), and right now I have a bowl of almonds soaking for the next almond milk batch and the homemade bread I am about to prepare. Then, your usual staples: maple syrup, homemade pickles, miso, and seaweed condiment. And probiotics. And my face oil.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Wild & The Moon (@wildandthemoon) on

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

My dad’s: go with your gut.

My mum’s: eat your probiotics

And what is the worst?

“It will never work”.

What has been the biggest challenge to overcome?

The most rewarding has been managing a team. Even if it is a daily challenge, it is a great human adventure. The most debilitating is the administrative sluggishness and/or stubbornness. But I leave that part to my dear husband and business partner!

– For more about Dubai’s lifestyle, news and fashion scene straight to your newsfeed, follow us on Facebook 

Images: Supplied