Bubbling up: Theadora Alexander

The founder of the Young Foodies Group and nominee of this year’s Veuve Clicquot Bold Future Award on empowering the brands of tomorrow and the strength of female leadership

People 2 Jun 2021

Theadora Alexander

Theadora Alexander, founder of Young Foodies Group

Can you introduce us to the Young Foodies Group and what it does?

The YF Group was founded upon the belief that the consumer has changed, but the consumer industry has not. Consumers want innovation that is better quality, better for them and better for the world. This progress should be celebrated and brands delivering on this should be empowered.

In 2017, we launched to bring the most exciting challenger brands in food, drink and grocery together, because we believe collaboration is more powerful than competition.

Today, with a network of more than 1,500 high-growth consumer brands, we provide specialised business services to those looking to reach the next level. We also advise businesses, from grocery retailers to manufacturers and more, on how to adapt their operating model to unlock value in this new wave of the brand.

Where did the idea of the Young Foodies Group come from?

My co-founder Chris and I worked for many years in high-growth consumer businesses – from Propercorn and Ella’s Kitchen to bakeries and more. We have seen what it is like on the inside of the brands – so much care, love and attention goes into making products that are better than what exists on shelves. But in a world of big corporations, small brands (no matter how amazing) just cannot compete.

We started the YF Group to empower the brands of tomorrow to thrive – to create a level playing field so that the best brands, with the best products, can be seen and cut through to baskets across the country.

What inspired you to empower and grow small challenger brands?

People and products. Seeing so many amazing entrepreneurs with delicious, new, different and interesting products but then seeing how hard it is for all of them to succeed because of the dominance of big players. I wanted to change that.

Veuve Clicquot 2021 Bold Woman Awards. From left to right: Maria Raga, Dame Donna Kinnair, Professor Sarah Gilbert, Sharmadean Reid MBE, Ebinehita Iyere, Theadora Alexander
Veuve Clicquot 2021 Bold Woman Awards. From left to right: Maria Raga, Dame Donna Kinnair, Professor Sarah Gilbert, Sharmadean Reid MBE, Ebinehita Iyere, Theadora Alexander

How does it feel to be nominated for the Veuve Clicquot Bold Future Award?

I was incredibly humbled to see my name next to some of the most impressive women in business today. It served as a reminder of the importance of what we are doing and renewed my focus on serving our brands to the best of our ability.

The other nominees are fascinating and impressive – how does it feel to stand alongside these other women?

It certainly puts the imposter syndrome to the test! What is wonderful about the line-up of women is the diverse backgrounds, industries and specialisms of everyone nominated. If my story can inspire one woman in the way these women inspire me, I will be incredibly proud.

Madame Clicquot was a pioneering female entrepreneur, have you been inspired by her story?

Of course. Madame Clicquot transformed a failing company into a successful brand that remains in place centuries later, and she did it all at a time when women couldn’t even open their own bank account, let alone independently run a business. I think it’s an incredibly inspiring story of tenacious female entrepreneurship and it’s fantastic that these awards continue to honour that legacy.

There have been a lot of conversations in the past year about the power and success of female leadership in navigating difficult situations such as the pandemic. How can we continue this conversation going forward?

It’s through awards like this – moments to pause and recognise achievement and progress. It’s all too easy in the hubbub of the everyday to check on our progress, as individuals and as a cohort. We are all responsible for taking the time and the consciousness to keep the conversation going.

Is empowering female leadership part of your mission at Young Foodies Group?

Yes. At YF, we believe in a level playing field – that means creating an environment in which the best products, brands and people can thrive. We are proud to have a diverse base of passionate entrepreneurs fuelling our brands. But we have a long way to go and YF is certainly committed to the journey.

Who is your role model?

My role model is my mother – a fantastic and successful businesswoman who has made her mark through kindness, authenticity, trust and ultimately a care for the customer above all else. If you asked her for her financial performance, she would have no idea, but ask her about any customer of hers and she knows them inside out. She is a constant reminder that people buy from people and that serving your customers will always serve your business.

What lessons from the past year will you carry forward into the future?

Every business is ultimately just a group of people who care about a cause. Look after those people. YF is nothing without the incredible team within our four walls and last year just reminded me how proud I am of each of them. It wasn’t easy but I feel absolutely confident that we are all stronger for it.

Learn more about Young Foodies Group at youngfoodies.co.uk. The Veuve Cliquot Bold Woman Award and Bold Future Awards are now in its 49th year. The awards honour female leadership, innovation and entrepreneurism across the UK. The winners will be announced in September 2021. Learn more at veuveclicquot.com.