Inspirational Profile: Louise Palmer-Masterton | Founder & CEO, Stem & Glory

Louise Palmer-Masterton

I am founder and CEO of plant-based brand Stem & Glory.

I have been self employed or running my own business almost my entire working life. Stem & Glory isn’t my first business, I previously owned a multi site leisure business that I exited in 2019. Before that I ran a digital arts company and had a long career in the music industry. I’ve also worked in radio and TV. I love tech and and am a bit of a geek! I am also a marketing geek which has stood me in good stead through all my various careers.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Never! One thing just led to another and it’s been like that all my life. Stem & Glory is a passion project, as were all my previous businesses. There are a few roads I didn’t go down, but making decisions has always been a natural process for me. I just do what feels right. In business it’s good to have a knack for reading the signs, that way you get a feeling for what’s working and what’s not. I’ve never been afraid to switch direction.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I get asked this a lot! Honestly, I do not see the world in terms of challenges. I mean if you think something is going to be hard and challenging, then it probably will be! I approach everything with curiosity – a problem after all is just something looking for a solution. Business is very creative and really is mostly about problem solving.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Bringing up two children! I was 39 when I had my first, and 41 when I had my second, so they came to me late in life and were an even greater blessing because of this. Once I became a parent everything in my life got better – I became better at business, more successful and more driven. Do not believe anyone that tells you there has to be a trade off between career or family.

You’re the founder of plant-based restaurants, Stem & Glory – how have you coped during the COVID-19 pandemic?

We coped well with everything that was thrown at us really. During the first lockdown we underwent a rebrand and many many good things came as a result of that. We also took the time to overhaul just about every system in the business from cost control to recipe management and installed a load of new tech systems. So when we emerged we were stronger, leaner and more profitable!

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I’ve been very fortunate to have had many mentors. I’ve had help and advice from many extremely knowledgeable and helpful people all my working life. In turn I try to play it forward and am in a position where people do approach me for help and advice which I am very happy to give. Helping others is extremely rewarding actually, we should all do more of it. My parents generation were very much of this mindset and I do think we lost that a bit in the generations that followed. My mum is 86 and spends all her time helping others.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

Gender is a social construct and should be removed completely as a label. Binary gender is so completely loaded and this one thing is responsible for all the inequality that exists. I feel quite strongly that titles (mr, ms etc) should basically be abolished. My children are teenagers now and they and their friends just don’t have this binary mindset, it’s time we all moved on. People are people and all equal.

How can businesses be more planet-friendly?

The simplest single one thing that any business can do is move to 100% renewable energy. That will reduce your emissions significantly. Then it’s a gradual step by step process of questioning everything – every purchase, everything your business consumes.

Ask yourself:
– Do we really need this?
– Where was this made?
– What happens to this when we no longer need it/want it and what happens to the packaging?

Base your purchasing decisions on your answers to these questions. It’s not about being 100% perfect, but in this way, you can train yourself into better buying habits, and it’s amazing how fast this process can change the mindset of your business.

Do you have any advice for those looking to embrace a vegan lifestyle?

  1. Stop buying processed vegan products and fall in love with lentils!
  2. Take small steps, one at a time. And when it comes to being fully vegan, never give up trying to give up.
  3. If you start craving cheese/meat/dairy – do not assume your body is telling you to stop being vegan. It takes time to adjust
  4. Support vegan restaurants! They make the best vegan food you will find 🙂

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

We are about to open a third site at London’s Broadgate Circle. It will be our biggest site to date so we are really looking forward to getting started on this. We are about to embark on our latest Crowdfunding round on Crowdcube – we are aiming for this to be our biggest and last to power us through the next few years. After Broadgate we will be looking at our fourth and fifth sites. We’ve also got a supermarket ready meal project in the pipeline and are about to publish our first book! Once the first book is out we will be starting on the next one which will have a big focus on Low Carbon British grown food.

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