A Real Rad girls’ night out

Read Rad Food CEO Hannah Mellsop will be one of two speakers at the Lyon O'Neale Arnold Lawyer's Wonder Women event on Tuesday.


For local businesswoman Hannah Mellsop, the COVID-19 pandemic could have been a real kick in the teeth.


Her Mount Maunganui-based company, Real Rad Food, could no longer supply its plant-based dessert treats to cafes forced to close their doors.


Like many savvy entrepreneurs, however, Hannah put her thinking cap on and started making a do-it-yourself pre-mix which is now being sold in New World supermarkets, as well as continuing to sell her ready-made balls and slices online, and to cafes and grocers around the country.


“We’ve really pivoted from where we were pre-COVID. We have a new range of products that are bringing in more revenue than ever before. It was a stressful time for us as a company but it forced us to do something better,” says Hannah.


Hannah, 25, is one of two young professional women who will be speaking at Lyon O’Neale Arnold Lawyers’ Wonder Women networking event at the Tauranga Yacht and Powerboat Club on Tuesday November 24.


The other speaker is Lyon O’Neale Arnold lawyer Kathryn Esterman who will talk about bucking the family trend of a career in health and following her passion for the law.


Hannah established Real Rad Food in 2017 on the back of her popular plant-based food Instagram account of the same name.


“While I was studying at university, I was making lots of plant-based treats for cafes for their cabinets and sharing what I was doing online. From there my following grew and I decided to try to turn it into a business and service the wholesale sector.”


Real Rad Food was also a regular fixture at the Little Big Markets in Mount Maunganui and Pāpāmoa, which helped spread the word locally.


Presentation has always been a key part of Hannah’s marketing strategy, and one that has been crucial to her success.


“Because we rely heavily on social media marketing to sell our products, people are buying with their eyes first. Our products are aesthetically pleasing, but also healthy and beautiful tasting.”


Hannah says she loves eating healthy food but isn’t one to forgo a treat. When she started the business, she had an exclusively plant-based diet but has since diversified.


“I don’t have any labels on my diet and I don’t portray myself as a picture of health. I love plant-based food and the way it’s made me feel over the years. I’ve always been hyper-aware of what I put in my mouth and on my skin and hair. It’s cool to be doing something that aligns with my personal values.


“I would say most of our customers don’t have exclusively plant-based diets. We cater for everyone – gluten-free, dairy-free and those who like a glass of wine on a Saturday night!”


With a GP and a midwife as parents, Kathryn Esterman could have followed in the family footsteps and taken up a career in health but, like many good lawyers, she loves a robust argument.

“I prefer to call it clever negotiation,” she laughs.


Lyon O’Neale Arnold lawyer Kathryn Esterman


Kathryn, 27, grew up in Tauranga but flew the coop to get both her law degree and a Bachelor of Science majoring in psychology at Victoria University. The pull of the sunny Bay of Plenty brought her home again, however, as well as the opportunity to work for Lyon O’Neale Arnold.


“Working in a smaller firm compared with larger corporate firms based in Wellington and Auckland means I get more hands-on experience and I feel connected with the community,” says Kathryn.


What: Wonder Women: Young Women Professionals

When: 5.30pm, Tuesday November 24

Where: Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club, 90 Keith Allen Drive, Tauranga

Tickets: $15. All proceeds to the Cambodia Charitable Trust.


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