Meet the GlowgetterFarm Girl's Rose Mann

By Ophelia Froud, Glowcation Founder
9 December '17

If you’ve ever visited London’s most Instagrammed café you may have wondered who is the Farm Girl? We went to meet the face behind Farm Girl, Rose Mann, 28 and to hear the story behind the healthy eatery sensation.

Where did you get the idea for Farm Girl?

I discovered café culture and cool places to eat when I was 24 travelling with my boyfriend Anthony Hood for two months. We started in the Caribbean and then did a West Coast USA road trip from Albuquerque to San Francisco.

We saw the whole vibe of West Coast, the colourful food and cool interiors which I felt London was missing. I got so much inspiration while staying at The Parker hotel in Palm Springs.

I remember sitting in Norma’s, their breakfast bar, and I ordered granola and a fruit bowl. The presentation was so beautiful.

I kept talking about food and analysed every restaurant. Every time we visited a new café I ordered the chicken salad and compared them as we travelled. My favourite was in Petit Ermitage in LA.

Talking about creating a healthy café became my passion. Then I met a woman on holiday who owned a string of London cafés. She was so kind and mentored me advising me to look at the business side of running a café- everything from weekly profit forecasts to the percentage of staff retained.


How did your background influence Farm Girl?

My childhood was spent  on a dairy farm. I was one of five children in Terang in the Western District of Victoria not too far from Melbourne. Every day after school I had a checklist with my Dad feeding the puppies, cats, ferrets, horses and my sister’s pet fox.

It gave me a great understanding of farm to fork as well as a love of animals.

We ate fresh produce every day and my mum’s vegetable garden was amazing. My father always encouraged us to eat meat from the land, eggs from the chickens and the supermarkets in Australia also sold amazing produce – never wrapped in plastic. It was like being surrounded by Wholefoods in the middle of nowhere.

My mother is English and my father is polo-player turned farmer. Every summer we came to England to stay with my grand-parents. At 20, I moved to London first studying art history at Christie’s and then working for Horiyoshi the Third, a Japanese luxury brand in Connaught Street. I did the marketing, PR and ran the shop for four years. I fell in love with the city.

Rose Mann

When was your ‘step out’ moment?

When I returned from my travelling I thought what a fun dream it would be to open a café. My two housemates went out to work while I was sitting Googling how to create my business. I discovered the Portobello site for the café. But deposits, lease agreements, food registration or lawyers were not something I knew anything about.

Then I met a man who also wanted to start a café. He agreed to invest with us and help us but he texted me one night at midnight and pulled out. It was a frustrating moment!

Anthony said he would finish my business plan which I needed to secure the site from the landlord. The estate agent said I would never get it because I was too young and inexperienced. He was right I went to see the landlords personally and I sat with them and asked them why they said no. “It’s purely because you have no experience and too much of a risk” they said. I was up against a big chocolate brand and a burger brand.

But I never gave up. Instead I visited the receptionist for the landlords. I was almost begging and she said write up a list of suppliers, show where the funding is coming from and create the 3 year plan. I went away and did all of that. Two days later they invited me for an interview with 12 trustees. I was so nervous. They were asking me all these questions about my business plan. They finally called me and said come for a second interview. I was so stressed and tired I got a migraine. But in the middle of it all I got this call to tell me my dream had become a reality- we had got the site!

We opened on June 15th, 2015.


How did you create the Farm Girl style?

I knew what I wanted. Anthony got involved as my business partner in January 2015 taking care of the financial side. We hired David and Victoria Beckham’s private chef, Benoit Marmoiton to be across the menus and food.

We wanted to create somewhere where we would go every day.

Beata Heuman did the interior which is pretty intense. And we approached a Dorset potter, where Anthony is from, called David Archer to design and create our crockery. People now pinch it all the time so we’ve had ‘Property of Farmgirl’ stamped on the bottom.

As soon as we opened some articles came out all in the Evening Standard and Tatler listing us amongst the top 5 Instagrammable cafés in London. That’s when I realised something special was going on.

 

How important is social media to Farm Girl?

When we design the menu what it looks like is vital. I sat down with our Executive chef Benoit and said I want the staples – good porridge, avocado on toast and homemade granola. We wanted to use local suppliers.

Benoit is all about visuals which is why we have so many bloggers and influencers visiting us.

I remember being so excited when we had 8K Instagram followers. All my family back home were so excited. Now we have almost 50K followers. I didn’t understand it. But there was a word of mouth domino effect- we have the most amazing people coming here. Nigella came in and posted on her Instagram.

How is healthy eating changing in London?

London is a hub- travellers are flying in from all over the world to be here. It’s trendy and packed with influencers. Australians love it and they love healthy fresh food. So healthy eating is on a roll here. At weekends customers queue which for two hours to get in. We can feed 250 people on a busy day. We now have another site in Chelsea to try and keep up with demand.

I don’t want a huge chain and world domination.

I’d love to one day live back on a farm with lots of animals but in the meantime we want to make great places, where people have fun.

For our reviews of cafés created by Rose Man click  here for Notting Hill and here for Chelsea . 

Rose Mann

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