We have recently had the pleasure of meeting Karina & Maciek, the lovely duo behind Get Wonky who joined forces and turned food waste into a business model by producing juices made from misshapen fruits and vegetables that otherwise would be discarded.
We spent a couple of lovely hours in their company, hanging around Roath Park and chatting about unloved fruits, the perks of working with your other half, parenting and Cardiff life.
Who are Karina and Maciek behind Get Wonky?
Karina and Maciek are the co-founders of Wonky drinks. Karina is the face of the business. She constantly seeks new opportunities and is always ready with her 60 seconds business pitch! Karina is undertaking her degree at the USW, studying HR Management. Her studies enable her to acquire knowledge and competencies that are beneficial to ensure workplace safety and employee satisfaction by helping employees to optimise their performance. More importantly she has a massive interest in sustainable and healthy living. Maciek is responsible for the whole mechanism of the business, starting from business operation, finance, logistics and management of people. He is extremely ambitious about everything he does. In one sentence, he believes that negative mind will never give you a positive life, therefore he is a person who is capable to jump off a cliff and build a plane on the way down.
How did you two meet?
We know each other for more than 4 years now. Even though we are both founders of Get Wonky we are also a couple.
How did the Wonky idea come about and what made it worth pursuing?
We realised that there was a massive food waste issue not only in the UK, but also all over the world. Love Food Hate Waste campaign that was launched in 2007 inspired us both, since their aim was to reduce the amount of waste in the UK. One third of fruit produced in the UK is wasted for being Wonky: too big, too small or simply less attractive. Land, water and fertilizers are all put to inefficient use; worst of all, the farmer must bear the brunt of these costs. This drove and still drives us crazy and we're on a mission to fix it and create the most sustainable juice brand in Europe!
Who or what influenced and inspired you the most in your entrepreneurial venture?
Running your own business is empowering. Working for yourself and your own goals is the ultimate dream. Starting our own business wasn't easy however, from the first day we believed that we can do it and more importantly we believed in our idea. Therefore, with this optimistic thinking we have and are still moving forward towards the greatest achievements. Our vision is to help our planet to be waste free and reduce food poverty.
What are your strengths as a team?
Working together and adding individual qualities and expertise make our team stronger. It is important to share the same vision and move towards mutual goals.
What is your view on people’s relationship with food these days?
We are excited to say that people are highly concerned about the food waste issue and are happy to support environmentally friendly business ventures. Our clients love the fact that they can contribute and save more than 8 wonky fruits with each drink. Our team has received a lot of positive feedback from both our social media followers and customers. We love hearing what people think and we are extremely dedicated to listen to their suggestions and opinions. Students have also proven keen to support our food waste projects and to work with us to help us reach our goals. Working with students, who will be the decision makers of tomorrow, is certainly also great for us. We are delighted to be able to say that we receive great feedback and people really seem to like what we are up to, wherever we go.
Where do you source your ingredients from?
We source our fruits from growers in the UK and Europe. We buy their wonky fruits for as much as 70% off the market price. As food waste is such a big problem, getting hold of the fruits is not too difficult. Farmers have nothing to do with their wonky produce, since they cannot sell them to retailers. When we offer to buy the wonky fruits from the growers, they are always happy. The growers would have just thrown the fruits away had we not come along, so selling them to us is just pure profit for them. Really, it is a win-win situation for us and the farmers we work with.
What was the wonkiest fruit or vegetable you have ever come across?
We have seen many different fruits and vegetables, but the most unusual wonky vegetables are carrots – they always surprise us.
How does the philosophy behind your juices inform your lifestyle and living space?
We have always encouraged ourselves to live a healthy lifestyle, but we also support the local markets – this is where most of our food shopping comes from in fact. We up-cycle and reuse, therefore hate waste!
Running your own business can be stressful at times. What do you do to relax?
A good dinner makes us smile. We are both passionate about new and unique cuisine. Often, in our spare time we explore the world and try to fulfill our food cravings.
What are your favourite places to hang out in Cardiff?
What is the best piece of advice that you have ever been given?
Confidence is key to success. Therefore a real entrepreneur must first believe that they can in order to succeed.
What are your dreams and ambitions for Get Wonky?
In 3 years time we expect to save 2000 tonnes of wonky produce. Our plan is to grow by 100% year to year and become one of the most sustainable food brands in the UK and Europe.
We are Irina and Silviu and we do everything together.
Our story begun in Transylvania while studying Philosophy at the University and we have been inseparable ever since. From translating philosophy books to changing diapers, creating collages together and documenting our reality through photography our togetherness became a lifestyle.
For the past 8 years we have called Wales home, the land of hiraeth and Celtic legends, of rugged coastlines and dramatic Brecon Beacons.
If you feel a connection with our aesthetics and vision we would love to hear from you.