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Muddy Meets: Katie Sawday, FruutBox

Surfer Katie Sawday founded Cornish fruit and veg box delivery service, FruutBox, to find a plastic-free solution for her family - we chatted ahead of International Women's Day about being a business owner and where she heads to in her time off.

FruutBox sounds intriguing – tell me more?

I started FruutBox with a focus on delivering fruit and veg boxes free of single-use plastics, but I also wanted it to be designed for young families, like ours (I am a full time mum to a 5 and 3 year old). We had tried to cut as much plastic packaging out of our lives as possible but our two fruit-mad kids meant that most of what was left in our recycling bin each week was fruit and veg packaging.

My husband has a background in farming and fresh produce and so I decided I needed to design the sort of service that I couldn’t find elsewhere; being convenient and easy to use, offering set boxes with consistent contents and the ability to swap or add extra items so that families know what they’ll be getting and can plan their meals and minimise wastage. I also wanted to make the amazing fresh produce grown around us here in Cornwall more accessible for local people, celebrating Cornish growers and sharing their knowledge of where and how our food is grown.

What is your day to day working life like?

It’s very varied but often involves a lot of juggling and usually a mixture of – dropping children at school/pre school, visiting local growers to collect the fresh produce, packing the produce, delivering, collecting children, the usual after school fun, dinner/bath/bed, then a few hours catch up on admin in the evening!

Has that changed at all during the various lockdown / pandemic and if so, do you think it has highlighted any need for change?

Yes, hugely –  we have had both children at home with us (plus home schooling!) so we’ve had to squeeze in all that I usually do in a day into a lot less hours. I’ve been reluctant to drag the kids around with us this lockdown so my husband and I have been working in shifts! He usually does the late night shift packing boxes until midnight/1am then I get up and 5:30/6am and finish off the rest!

What are you/ your team doing to promote women/equality in your every day?

I work closely with many amazing female-led businesses with FruutBox – I really appreciate how hard it can be to juggle building a business and be a full-time mum, and it is so great to see how many amazing female business owners there are here in Cornwall and I feel like we all support each other.

I also hope that I’m setting an example to my daughter and other girls, proving that your gender doesn’t dictate whether you can or can’t do something.

What more is there to do in terms of equality / parity in Cornwall generally

Personally, my biggest struggle is childcare – having to squeeze in all that I need to into a window of around 5 hours a day. I’m not sure what the answer is to this but more support around childcare would be great.

What’s the general vibe among women business owners. Are people supportive? Good networks?

There’s a great community feel here in Cornwall, some amazing strong women in business and I feel like everyone is so supportive of each other.

Do you have any role models?

My sister – she is strong, wise, supportive, fun and has worked all over the world advocating for gender equality and women’s rights.

What’s it like being a female business owner (and do you think it differs in Cornwall to UK generally)?

I love it – even though the juggle is tough I wouldn’t change it. It’s so rewarding, especially when chatting to customers and hearing their feedback, it makes all the late nights worth it! I’m hoping as the business grows the work/life balance will level out a bit and I’ll be able to enjoy the flexibility that comes with running your own business. I’m not sure if this differs to the rest of the UK, but living in such a beautiful part of the world and having the sea on your doorstep certainly helps!

Speaking of the sea on your doorstep, what’s your favourite beach in Cornwall?

I don’t go very often but it has to be Sennen (above) – beautiful clear water, white sand and the last time I was there we watched dolphins playing in the surf. I feel so lucky to live in this beautiful part of the world. I love surfing, swimming and just being next to or in the sea!

So when your first visitors arrive in Cornwall post lockdown, where are you going first?

I can’t wait! It’s got to be Port Gaverne for a guided SUP with Cornish Rock Tors followed by a surf at our local beach, Polzeath and ending with a sunset BBQ. Can’t get better than that!

Find more ideas here

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