Renée Elliott

Renée Elliott

I developed a questioning attitude when I was nineteen years old. Because of an early interest in food and health, I applied this first to what I ate. I realised there are norms in the food chain that don’t make sense, from conventional farming to the rubbish in processed foods, and I changed my diet to eat better. I discovered that conventional wisdom, in general, isn’t always smart. And ‘normal’ isn’t always good enough. And I decided that I didn’t want to be a sheep and follow the crowd. I wanted better.

I’m American. I was born in the Deep South and grew up near Boston, but after graduating from University, I moved to England to date a guy I’d met on a night bus on Lower Regent Street. A bit of a late starter, I spent my twenties working in the wine trade, having a ball, getting to know myself better and wondering what I might possibly do for work.

I married the bus guy, Brian, and five years later opened Planet Organic in 1995, the first organic supermarket in the UK. My mission was to promote health in the community and my slogan became ‘Eat well: live better’. It was a roller-coaster journey and I was a pioneering woman in a tough retail world. But I believed that values-led, commercially-driven business is good business. And I was right.

I see health as the foundation of wellbeing. But as Planet grew, I explored other areas of wellbeing such as psychological, economic, occupational and spiritual, realising that life could be better in these ways, too. In my late thirties and early forties, I had three children, and by 2009, I found myself choosing between my business and my babes. I stepped away from Planet so I could be a great mom and Brian and I moved the family to Tuscany for a while to slow things down.

After a beautiful three-year Italian interlude, we returned to England in early 2013 and I began my second professional chapter. I wanted to have more fun. I started delivering speeches to inspire entrepreneurs, mentoring start-ups, teaching healthy baking and writing my fourth cookbook, ‘What to Eat & How to Eat it’. This was fun. And then it was time to take to pull it all together into a second business.

Then in 2016, I met Sam Wigan. We had similar ideas and knew we would work together. We designed and started to build an Academy for life skills and business skills for the stuff that enables you to navigate better through life and work. For me, this work is the sum and expression of everything I have admired, studied and learned over the last thirty years. We launched Beluga Bean Academy in 2017 and are growing a family of like-minded peeps. And having fun.

Read more