Pandora Symes is a holistic cook, yoga teacher, PR freelancer... We could continue! She managed to create her own ROOTED LONDON universe of self-love living and invites clients and friends to visit her world. She doesn't compromise her personal freedom or creativity. Instead, every time you see her, she inspires you to be a better version of yourself. Pandora's work is a perfect example of a life where mindfulness marries professional projects. How did she start and grow her business and how can you use her learnings to improve your life and work balance?
Can you tell us a little about yourself? We'd like to know where's home, what did you study at uni, what was your first pet and if you were to write a book, what would it be about?
Home for me is East London. I’ve been here for around 14 years now and have watched it grow and change a lot. A few years ago I bought my own safe haven in Mile End and it’s great to have somewhere to call home after a long day of catering deliveries, cooking, teaching, and meetings. My right hand man at the moment is my little dog named Pooch, he’s a very determined, fiery ball of energy and I love it! I’d like to think that one day when I write a book, it will be all about how to live in the moment, cherish yourself and work towards self-love. That and a huge amount of delicious recipes to keep your body and mind, ROOTED!
What happened after leaving university? We’d like to know what was your first job, what difficult decisions you had to make, how did you get into PR?
After leaving university I quickly began to gain contacts within the PR industry and things spiralled from there really. Before I knew it I was overseeing huge campaigns and working with large companies. Selfridges was a crazy highlight!
Sorry for being so straightforward, but why were you freelancing as a PR and then how come you started Rooted London?
Having been working in the health and beauty PR industry for 11 years I decided I was no longer getting the most out of my creativity and ambitious drive. It was a gradual thing for me. It actually started when I asked my Creative Director if I could come in 10 minutes late each Friday; the yoga teacher I loved had a class which would make me slightly late. I absolutely agreed that he couldn't allow it in that environment (if you do it for one, you have to do it for all) but it did make me realize I needed to start working on my own time. I went freelance and worked for an agency between the UK and Ibiza and only working with wellness brands. This enabled me to have the time start my nutrition course and following this, my yoga teacher training. Needing even more flexibility with my schedule I started freelancing for my own clients giving me time to concentrate on ROOTED LONDON.
How did you find your first ROTED LONDON client? And the second and the third?
Have you tried advertising, if yes where and did it work?
My first ever catering client for ROOTED was River Island. They were hosting a press event with a tropical theme and I jumped at the chance to cater for them providing fresh tropical fruit smoothies, and mango, coconut and chia seed parfaits. This led nicely onto my second ever client, Free People, as I catered for their London press events. These were both back in January of 2015 and boy has time raced by since then!
Back when you were just starting out how did you pay your first rent?
It’s still a very gradual process and when I was first starting out, just like I still am now, I worked on PR for other wellness brands to keep myself afloat, pay the bills, and help grow the business.
Can you give a guide to starting out as a yoga teacher and caterer? What should we know, what hidden costs we’ll encounter, what do you wish you knew?
Honestly, if I could go back in time and tell myself ten years ago to just relax and enjoy the ride, I would! Every part of freelancing has driven me one step closer to my ultimate goal of developing ROOTEDLONDON and made me who I am today. The best piece of advice I can give to anyone launching a new business is to use your contacts to the max and don’t ever be afraid to reach out for help. The universe will bring good vibes back to you in the form of working relationships, all you have to do is swallow your pride and ask.
Who did your branding? It's great!
Thank you so much! My lovely friend Cris Jones helped me with the world of branding, and together we tried to capture the simplicity of healthy living in the simple clean lines and the connectedness of mind, body and movement in the cyclical design of the logo.
Let’s talk about yoga! Why did you become a teacher and how did it happen?
I’ve been practicing yoga for around 11 years now and for me it’s all about the mind body connection. When I started my training in naturopathic nutrition, the two seemed to go hand in hand, so I decided that I wanted to make yoga a part of my ROOTED philosophy too. You can be eating all the right foods and ticking all the right fitness boxes, but if you are disconnected from your body then you may not be achieving optimum health. Yoga brings your mind into the present and creates a mindful awareness of your body, something which I wanted to bring to ROOTED as it perfectly mirrors to nurturing relationship with food that I hope to promote. I now teach weekly classes at Studio Society and most recently have joined forces with South Place Hotel with a Sunday ROOTED RESET class and brunch each month. I have also launched a ROOTED menu as part of their existing brunch offering as well as teach corporate and private classes to help clients reach a holistic version of health.
We love your classes. We love the location too! South Place Hotel is a wonderful place, was it hard to get it?
It’s such a beautiful venue, isn’t it! My classes here actually came about via a friend I went to uni with. She loved what ROOTED was about and wanted to incorporate yoga and a healthier food aspect to the restaurant brunch menu. Voila.
Lastly, your instagram is beautiful! Can you share your tips and tricks?
Thank you, it’s a real love of mine. Instagram is such an explosive, propelling platform of social media at the moment and it’s creating some incredible opportunities for ROOTED. My top tips would be to keep it simple and really put your soul into it. I like to create clean space around each of my photographs, boosting the light and energy of each image.