Naturawell: Lincoln grads open city’s first plant-based food bar
‘We just want to do something different, be recognised for the work we’ve put in and have people benefit from what we’re doing’
Amy White and Joezy Black have been in the process of creating their grab-and-go food bar, Naturawell, for almost two years. Last Friday, it opened on Carholme Road for the first time. We had a chat with the pair about their story, the journey and – of course – the food.
On the story behind the plant-based food bar, Joezy said: “We graduated uni and started working full-time in 2018 when we moved to Leeds”. Both Joezy and Amy are vegetarians, although both said they would like to convert to a fully plant-based diet themselves. Amy said: “Being in this business, we get to try a lot of different ingredients and source lots of alternatives for a fully plant-based diet”.
‘Our aim is to provide something where people don’t have to compromise on quality or taste while still being affordable’
“In Lincoln especially, it can be hard to find something that offers a broad range of plant-based meals,” Joezy says. Having both studied at Lincoln, they understand the difficulty of being a student. He went on to say: “Being a student is completely different [to anything before that]. Organising yourself is difficult, especially if you’re coming into your first year and are trying to organise your funds. It’s a big step to becoming totally independent. Our aim is to provide something where people don’t have to compromise on quality or taste while still being affordable”.
When asked about public response, Amy said: “It’s been amazing, people have been coming back to tell us that whatever they’d had before was really good. People have been really welcoming to the idea of it being an entirely plant-based menu”. Speaking on their identity, Joezy and Amy agreed, with Joezy saying: “Our signs show that whatever diet you decide to adopt we can cater to – so long as it is plant-based. We’re not turning anyone away, we want people to come in and try our food. And if we don’t meet these needs then we want feedback on how we can improve the experience”.
‘Our signs show that whatever diet you decide to adopt we can cater to’
“Some food sellers sell themselves as vegan, which can put someone off from even trying their food. We want to change that narrative to allow people with a range of dietary preferences to sit and eat in one place without having to compromise – that is the main idea behind Naturawell”.
Amy went through the menu: “We do a range of foods. We have breakfast options from pancakes or avocado on toast, to porridge pots and smoothie bowls. We still have a lunch and dinner side, there are salads which you can make to your taste, or rice and pasta dishes. We even do burgers and wraps, as well as some dessert treats like coated strawberries”. Both Amy and Joezy were excited about the menu and hopeful that come Valentine’s Day this dessert will be a very popular option.
Joezy mentioned their range of drinks, both hot and cold: “We make our juice fresh every day”. Amy explained the drinks further: “We also do our special hot drinks which contain superfoods like matcha or turmeric or chai. And we have some very nice feel-good shakes which have gone down very well”. They mentioned that customers, in particular, had been enjoying their Oreo milkshakes.
Looking at their menu overall, Joezy said: “We just wanted a big menu, we know it’s a big list. We’re not scared of failure, we’re not setting ourselves up to fail, but having worked in corporate environments we’re quite confident to say that failure is part of a journey and if you don’t keep trying you’ll never reach your destination”.
As for opening up their food bar, Joezy said: “We’ve been planning Naturawell for the past 24 months. This is all very new to us both. I studied media production at university and graduated in 2017 and went on to do a MSc in business management in 2018. I moved to Leeds to work for Samsung and from there went into real estate. As a young graduate, I was eager to get myself out there and make sure I gained as much knowledge and experience as possible. And networking – because networking is key, especially as a graduate you need to know people to get into places”.
“Naturawell was an idea before lockdown occurred”. Joezy explained that the pair struggled to secure a location for their business: “At this point, we were panicking. This was a whole new idea, especially in Lincoln where some people say it isn’t very culturally diverse, but the thing is [Lincoln] is growing. We’re still nervous but people have responded well to us and eventually, we knew we would get there”.
‘One of the things we’ve enjoyed most is that everything in here has been pretty much done by ourselves’
“Most of 2021 was spent contacting agencies. Then we found this place, and now we are home. We got the lease back in the summer. One of the things we’ve enjoyed most is that everything in here has been pretty much done by ourselves, we built the bar, decorated the space and all our marketing is done by us too. Our logo for example took nine months, we wanted it to be simple and effective”.
The two joked about the stress, but Joezy assured that despite this, they were happy that they had finally settled: “Now we have this, we can adapt and make a difference. Because it isn’t just our lives we intend to change. The aim for us isn’t to be the next Jeff Bezos, we just want to do something different, be recognised for the work we’ve put in and have people benefit from what we’re doing. We want young students to look at us and think, ‘they’ve done that, so I can do this’. There’s a lot of help out there if you need it too”.