“Any great brand started off by breaking the rules”, Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones told Michael Hayman on last night’s Capital Conversation. The founder of award-winning The Black Farmer – the brand of British, vegan and gluten free food products – Wilfred credits his success to progressive, even at times contentious, methods of building a business.
Working on his father’s inner-city Birmingham allotment age 11, he described the idea of owning a farm as ‘just a dream.’ Yet after getting his start in the catering industry and later spending time in the army and working as a BBC producer, Wilfred has gone on to turn the dream into reality.
Sharing his advice on how to make it big in food, he said consider the personal brand: “The only thing you have as a point of difference is you and that is what you’ve got to sell: you”. Inspired by brands like Virgin, he said his goal was “to try and bring something different. To go against the stereotype and cut the status quo.”
In September 2018 he published his first book, “Jeopardy: the danger of playing it safe on the path to success”
Reflecting on his journey, Wilfred says he was inspired to help people access the opportunities that were not readily available to him. His Rural Scholarship Scheme arranges for young people living in cities to visit his farm, and he takes ambitious food-entrepreneurs under his wing with The Hatchery.
Bringing the interview to a close, Wilfred – who ran as a parliamentary candidate in 2010 – spoke of a growing disconnect between urban and rural Britain, which he believes could be bridged if leaders did more to “start breaking down the walls” .
You can watch the full episode here.