Our Very Own Food Hero – Alexia Benson – Bensons Co-founder
Hi Alexia and thank you for taking part in our food hero of the month feature.
Can you begin by telling us about your background, a little history behind Bensons and the secret to its success?
After graduating from University I followed my passion for food and started my own catering business. I received a grant from the Princes Trust and cooked for parties, weddings etc. I was always passionate about British food and during the time when Farmers Markets were sprouting up everywhere we started juicing apples. We soon realised that there was a need for better quality British juices and so the story of Bensons began. We have never used foreign apples and have always tried to keep the food miles to a minimum.
We’re obsessed with apples – all of our product have an apple base and we want to put fruit back on the nutritional map despite the often mislead “war on sugar”.. not all sugar is bad!
Real food. Only ingredients you can pronounce and recognise, no e-numbers, colouring’s, flavourings or added sugars. When fruit tastes so good naturally there isn’t need to add sugars, colouring’s or flavourings…so we don’t!
How do you feel like you and the company have grown since you started Bensons?
Running your own business has its ups and downs and is certainly a challenge. I graduated with a History of Art degree and my business knowledge was minimal. I have learnt an immense amount over the years and have definitely learnt from mistakes that I have made. However these mistakes just make you more knowledgeable and determined to succeed!
The company has had steady growth over the years and I have met and worked with a lot of fantastic people.
What’s your role at Bensons, we know you wear many hats.. which is your favourite?
I am MD of Bensons and wear too many hats!!! I enjoy the NPD side of the business and love watching an idea transform into a real life, successful product. Our most recent being the Eccentric English Raspberry and Lime Cider that has recently been listed in Nandos. We are currently working on two other flavours to compliment the range. My financial role, although at times mind boggling is at the same time rewarding and challenging! The marketing side of the business has changed massively over the past few years and is exciting and the way in which social media has influenced everything always astounds me. My favourite role is working with my colleagues and bouncing ideas off each other and solving the frequent dilemmas that come our way.
What do you think differentiates Bensons from competitors?
Bensons uses British fruit wherever possible not oranges, obviously! We use real fruit rather than concentrate and add as little as possible to keep the product as healthy as it can be.
We pride ourselves in excellent customer service and treat people in the way we would like to be treated.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time I love spending time with my wonderful family, of who I am immensely proud. I play netball and hockey and run with my dog which are all great ways to dispel daily frustrations!! I spend a lot of time on the side of a sports field supporting my kids, which again gives me great satisfaction. I enjoy cooking although have to do rather too much of it!
Favourite product and why?
My favourite product is the Chilly Billy, named after my third son Billy. It is the easiest product to make, pack, store, deliver and also the most healthiest treat for kids and adults – only 30 calories! Winner!
I am also partial to the Raspberry Cider, especially with a cheeky Halloumi and Portobello mushroom burger at Nandos.
I use a whole big bottle of Bensons Totally Fruity Juice in the kids Nutri-Bullet every morning so that is pretty high up the list too. As a Mum it feels great to send them off to school knowing they have already had a few of their five a day!
Work life balance?
I struggle with work and being a Mum – as we all do. The Mummy/work guilt is always pretty high up there and my biggest challenge in life is dealing with stress and managing my time to keep everyone happy. However, my life is pretty good and I am grateful for all that I have.
Above all else I am passionate about the quality and provenance of our ingredients and am dedicated to producing delicious, natural products for the whole family to enjoy. We have big plans for the months ahead so stay tuned for lots of fun (and tasty) announcements…
Thanks for taking part Alexia, next up Jeremy Benson!