Let's get to know Bowl and Arrow
We’re proud to be packaging partners with Bowl and Arrow and over the years have grown with them. They started with a few plain sleeves of branded products for their market stall, and since then they've recently opened their 3rd site, located in the new Commercial Bay development in Central Auckland.
We had a chat with Leisha, one half of Bowl and Arrow and picked her brains on all there is to know about Bowl and Arrow. Important topics like... what her favourite smoothie bowl is (we didn’t think she could just choose one!) along with any insightful tips for those wanting to start a business in hospitality.
Hi Leisha, could you give us a brief overview of Bowl and Arrow and how it started?
Hannah and I (Leisha) came up with the idea whilst traveling through South East Asia where we ate plenty of smoothie bowls. We were both in between jobs, originally from the advertising / PR world and we were looking for something different. When we came home to New Zealand we noticed the lack of smoothie bowls around, something so popular overseas. So, we started creating and trialling recipes and took them to market.
We did a season at the Victoria Park Markets and have used most of the same produce, food and packaging suppliers since the beginning. It’s been great to have been on the same journey and kept relationships with local businesses and built on that over the past 4 years.
We then started to get more corporate catering and event queries when the corporate wellness shift started coming through. Providing a healthy lifestyle to businesses that believe in feeding good food to their employees is more likely to mean increased staff productivity. We partnered with brands such as Nike, Les Mills and Adidas who had similar health and wellness values as Bowl and Arrow.
A year of running Bowl and Arrow part time, while still having jobs on the side, Hannah and I decided to open our first store - Orakei Bay Village. Which was scary, because do we go all in?
Since then, Hannah and I have gone and opened 2 more stores, recently closing Parnell to focus on our new Westfield Newmarket store and then Commercial Bay which has just opened at the end of March.
To us, it is important to constantly hone in on our values, building a community which is more than just a cafe. As a community it comes down to our care for our customers, sustainability, our environment and our relationship with our suppliers, which we believe is one whole package. We also host a series of wellness events, workshops and yoga events where we can give back to the community.
What do you know now that you wished you knew when you started your business?
Having your own business is really really hard… one thing that Hannah and I always talk about is that, if we had known everything we knew now, we probably wouldn’t have started Bowl and Arrow. You have to be a little naive to begin with, to go all in and give it everything. Along the way you have stresses, tough times and obstacles you face, but once you’ve started there’s no turning back. You’ve got to make it work - which is incredibly satisfying when you do get through a tough situation. We had no experience in starting a business when we first began. You have to take it a day at a time. I would not know what I’d be doing if I wasn’t doing this, everyday is so different and I love it. In the end - If we knew what was involved it would have scared us enough to not start at all and you’ll never feel you’re 100% ready for anything - so push go even if you’re at 80%.
Could you describe Bowl and Arrow in three words.
COMMUNITY. QUALITY (in everything) from our products, suppliers, customer service and packaging. CARE - putting emphasis in making someone’s day!
What's the most popular smoothie bowl on your menu?
Our classic - The Brazilian Acai bowl, which is also my favourite.
Favourite place to enjoy nature?
Going for a walk either through bushwalk areas in Auckland or down on the beaches. Hannah and I do our business meetings on walks. On walks is where I think the best ideas come - where there’s fresh air and our blood’s flowing!
What advice would you give to someone starting out in hospitality?
To get advice from as many people as you can. It is so helpful to learn from people who have done something similar or with people with relevant expertise (accountants, business advisors, business owners). Hopefully you can learn from their advice or mistakes and therefore won’t make the same ones. People are so happy to share their knowledge, are open to giving advice and are also generally interested to hear what you have to say. Just ask the question, take them out to coffee and pick their brains. There’s so much you can learn from a quick 20 - 30 minute chat!
What inspires you in the Sustainability space?
For me personally, my dad’s a professional Sailor. So, seeing what ‘plastic’ does to our oceans is incredibly sad. No one’s perfect, everyone in some sense is going to have waste in some description. As a business owner it’s our responsibility to do our best on our part. We’ve placed importance on sustainability since the start. We think you guys at Innocent Packaging are an amazing brand to work with. To know that we can close the loop with compostable packaging is important.
Are there any Sustainability Challenges that Bowl and Arrow face?
One of the biggest challenges is educating our customers that our packaging is compostable and how best to dispose of the packaging. We have bins at our stores, which We Compost will collect and compost. We don’t have control over what people do with the packaging once they take it with them, we do welcome our customers to bring their packaging back to us so we can dispose of it correctly.
What exciting things do you have in store for Bowl and Arrow?
Our Commercial Bay store just opened at the end of March, so our focus is to get that up and running and get our existing stores ticking along nicely. For the last 4 years, we’ve done a fit out each year for a new store. So we’re excited to make our business run as efficiently as possible other than focusing on new builds. We’ll have a better idea at the end of this year. We’re always talking to people and learning and there are a lot of routes we can take - which is exciting.