Talk about spreading yourselves thin – two former lawyers chose the week before childbirth to launch their Fix & Fogg nut butter business.
In business circles, there's often a lot of talk about how invested you need to be to own and operate your own company – but few could have been as invested as Andrea Jewell when she and husband Roman began Fix & Fogg the week before son Otto was born eight years ago.
You could also say they had the courage of their convictions – the word "convictions" stemming from Andrea's previous career as a criminal barrister in London before moving to New Zealand with Kiwi husband Roman, a commercial litigator.
Their story is how the pair moved from penal codes to peanut butter and a journey from high-profile jobs that left them strangely dissatisfied to a business stimulated by personal beliefs. It will be one of the highlights of Invest Your Heartbeats – a speaker series which touches on the benefits of pursuing a life that rewards you emotionally and mentally and which isn't just "work".
Sponsored by Stella Artois and popular investment platform Hatch NZ, the Invest Your Heartbeat series is based on Stella Artois' conviction that each of us has about 2.5 billion heartbeats in our lives – and that those heartbeats should be spent accruing good memories.
Andrea Jewell says Fix & Fogg (named after two main characters from the Jules Verne epic Around The World In 80 Days) came about from the couple's strong attachment to a plant-based, high-protein diet and their fondness for peanut butter.
"We started experimenting, making our own," she says, "but never thought at that stage it would lead to us starting a business. We were both working as lawyers – working long hours, mostly writing legal documents.
"I was offered tenancy at my chambers, a big thing for a lawyer – but we both had a sense that we had sort of lost our younger selves. We felt we had been really creative in art, sport and cooking and it made us reflect on what was working in our lives and what wasn't.
"So we started making our own peanut butter, selling at local farmers' markets around Wellington – small beginnings. We are massive foodies and it stemmed from a moral perspective, I guess – we aren't vegan but we are plant-based and there are no animal products used in our products."
Suddenly, after dealing predominantly with matters legal, they were pitched into the hurly-burly of giving birth not just to a new business but also to Otto (joined a couple of years later by daughter Thea). One of Andrea's fond memories is spending more time with her loved ones – investing those heartbeats – and leaving baby Otto in the car with her father-in-law while she and Roman got on with business at a local market.
"When I got back to the car, Otto was screaming the place down and my father-in-law looked a bit uncomfortable," she says. "Fix & Fogg is really well-known now and life is great – but it was a massive risk at the time; it's not easy to drop a career of perceived social status."
While Fix & Fogg didn't quite get round the world in 80 days, they have indeed gone round the world. Their various nut butters (peanut butter was just the start) include almond, cashew, granola and chocolate hazelnut and have won awards in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and the US. Fix & Fogg, with about 40 staff based in Wellington and Houston, are now firmly established in massive US farmers' markets like Sprouts, Thrive, and Central, the latter stocking them in 500 outlets across the country.
Their story is, says Hatch NZ co-founder and general manager Kristen Lunman, part and parcel of why Hatch is co-presenting the speaker series with Stella Artois.
"At Hatch, we want to inspire everyone to invest in living their best lives. This speaker series showcases incredible Kiwis who have triumphed over adversity and who make every moment count in life and business. We're excited to welcome everyone to share in stories reminding us every heartbeat is an investment in our future."
The Jewells will be speaking at the Wellington event on June 10, preceded by the Auckland (June 2) and Christchurch events (June 9). The Auckland event will feature Mimi Gilmour, co-founder of renowned chain restaurant Burger Burger: "I truly believe in the act of hospitality, which is what I've built the business model around, and why I believe it has been so successful. We give people the opportunity to come in, have a meal, and share an occasion.
"This is something I feel strongly about – especially with the rise of food delivery services and pop-up QSRs. I've chosen to invest in a business model I can truly get behind – both literally and emotionally – which is such an important part of any successful business. I'll hop on the floor at Burger Burger and have the time of my life serving our customers and giving them an enjoyable experience.
"I'd tell any Kiwi looking to invest their time in something – whether it be a business, a job, or a relationship – to make sure that it aligns with a deeper belief."
Christchurch event speaker Christian Newman, of the Love From Your Dads social media platform, agrees: "Being young and career-driven is a wonderful stage of life, but it's important to be decisive in how you spend your time, and who you spend it with.
"Running a business with your partner is widely regarded as difficult – and then going through the surrogacy and adoption process with our son, Frankie, just added to the stress. After being through the rough and tumble of life together, Mark and I are far less likely to sweat the small stuff these days. We try to spend money on experiences more than things, because we have a better grasp of what's important to us."