David Bez is the embodiment of optimism, creativity and personal growth, which makes him the perfect fit for my Village People series.
A graphic designer, turned food blogger, turned international best-selling writer, turned catering entrepreneur – this man has harnessed the power of social media to change his life in less than 4 years.
I first met David over 7 years ago when he’d moved from Milan to become the in-house designer at Discovery Channel’s London office. We were both smokers at the time. I left Discovery HQ a year later (and gave up smoking) so I never got to witness at first hand Bez’s metamorphosis into the man that (to quote The Times) ‘sexed up’ salad but I did follow his journey on Facebook.
It was after a number of health scares amongst friends and family, that David realised his daily lunchtime routine of canteen takeaways and processed food was taking it’s toll on his energy levels. He decided to pay more attention to his diet and started taking a bag of fresh ingredients into work each week to construct a new salad everyday. After creating each dish, he’d photograph it, then eat it. Colleagues would huddle around his desk to observe the salad man in action. With just a chopping board, a knife and a few oils in his desk drawers, his healthy eating habit was becoming an obsession, David was soon growing a small window box of herbs next to his desk.
After much positive feedback and feeling the benefits of loosing 2 stone in excess weight, David set himself the ‘365 days of Salad challenge’ and his Salad Pride blog was born. Amassing over 40,000 daily visitors from all over the world it was inevitable that the publishers would come knocking.
The Salad Love book has been a huge international success distributed not only in bookstores but in lifestyle outlets such as Anthropologie and Triyoga, with David alongside his beautiful photography appearing in media outlets the world over.
A year has passed and a new adventure has begun. Bez has left his design job and set up David & Joy, a London based catering company that creates hand crafted lunch boxes that are cycled to offices around the city. It’s one month since lift off and the daily lunch deliveries are regularly sold out.
Who knows where this next chapter is going to take him…
What inspired you to start Salad Pride?
I wanted to eat healthier in the office but the available options were not great. In Milan there is no such thing as ready meals, everything is made fresh so my eating habits were worsening since moving to London. The only way I could get healthy was to control the ingredients on my plate and so I started making my own lunches at my desk.
When my colleagues were taking an interest in what I was doing, I felt energised and inspired to do more, so I started the blog. I got addicted.
Tell us about how your previous background has helped you down this path?
My background in graphic design and advertising helped me massively especially in the aesthetics of the whole project. Food has to look good to be appetising.
Can you pin point the exact moment when you decided to leave corporate life?
When I signed the contract with the publisher for my first book SaladLove.
What has been the biggest risk you’ve had to take?
Deciding to leave a good job and a steady income to go and do something completely new and completely unknown like writing books about food! It’s a competitive world and I am not a trained chef so it was scary.
Have you had any pinch me moments?
Plenty of times, the whole journey has been like a dream but two moments spring to mind. When Salad Love jumped to No2 on Amazon’s book sales chart, after a huge article in the press and when my publisher told me that the book was being translated into 20 different languages!
What keeps you motivated when you’re having an ‘off’ day?
Off day? What do you mean? It’s all good, hard work but at least I am doing what I love.
What about a work life balance?
I’m trying to stay home more and spend more time with my family although it’s really hard because there’s a lot to do.
Who are the people in your life that help you thrive?
Definitely my wife Vera who is always very resourceful and very rich with ideas and stimuli, and my son.
What are the top 3 things you have learnt since you started Salad Pride?
1. Learn on the way, it might sound silly but the only way to actually put together a business is actually by doing it. You cannot really know till you start.2. Everything picks up quite slower than you think so don’t be in a rush.3. Only start your own business if you sincerely care and feel passionate about it. That is the only way to succeed
David Bez portrait photography supplied by Jørn Tomter for D2 Magazine