Keeping it pure pays
WILD GEESE Jennifer Irvine, founder of The Pure PackageHer desire for tasty, convenient home- cooked food led Corkwoman Jennifer Irvine to set up her own business in London
RUBY WAX, LILY COLE, Linford Christie, Emma Forbes – Jennifer Irvine’s client list reads like a version of the Billy Joel song We Didn’t Start the Fire.
The Cork-born businesswoman may failed her Leaving Certificate Irish exam but that hasn’t stopped her from building up her business to 7,000 wealthy clients.
Irvine launched the Pure Package in 2003 in London, when she was 27, after noticing a gap in the market for a gourmet food delivery service. The company takes nutritionally balanced, freshly prepared meals and snacks to the doors of thousands of busy Londoners every day. “My clients are very successful and very time-poor. They range from lawyers to actors, fashion designers to bankers, and they work 12 to 14 hours per day. They don’t have time to make a meal,” she says.
They are also wealthy, as it costs between £30 (€38) and £60 per day for delivery of three Pure Package meals and snacks.
“We build a profile for each client. We find out what they like, what they don’t like and what their dietary requirements are,” says Irvine. “For example, an athlete may need seven meals per day plus snacks whereas a model might require cleansing foods in the run-up to fashion week. Some 90 per cent of our clients are after weight-loss programmes though.”
Irvine started out selling prepared meals from her kitchen in London before expanding to larger premises in New Covent Garden. She now has 29 employees and counts model Erin O’Connor, singer Florence Welch, fashion designer Alice Temperley and actor Hugh Jackman among her clients.
“When I first started, I had nine clients as I couldn’t fit any more meals in the fridge. I remember I had the actress Patsy Kensit on the phone begging me for meals but I had to say no as I just didn’t have the room. She ended up on the waiting list.”
Irvine invested in a second fridge-freezer and then a 6ft by 6ft chiller for the garden before eventually considering a new premises. “I realised, for the sake of my sanity and family, I had to get the business out of the house,” she says.
She took a premises at New Covent Garden Market and, from there, the business took off. It now sends out 1,000 meals to clients daily. One person has had breakfast, lunch and dinner from her every day for five years.
Irvine grew up on the Beara Peninsula in West Cork. Her parents make Milleens cheese.
“I grew up surrounded by geese, chickens and ducks. We foraged a lot for food, especially mussels and crabs, and if we wanted anything, we had to get it ourselves. Anytime we wanted water, one of us would have to hold the other child’s legs over the well as they lowered the jug down.”