A pioneer in Vegan territories, Emma Sawko, a French entrepreneur with a vision, has been the first to introduce a real “healthy” café in Dubai, Comptoir 102, in 2012. Three years later, considering the potential and warm welcome of her first venture, Emma opened -now well renowned- Wild & The Moon in 2015, before making her way to Paris in 2016.
Growing from successes to successes, she spoke to JDEED about how it all started and her plans to expand Wild & The Moon more and more, one green juice at a time.
Could you introduce yourself a little bit to our readers?
I am Emma Sawko, founder of Comptoir 102 and Wild & The Moon. I was born in New York and raised in Paris. I moved to Dubai in 2012. I am not really vegan, but I follow a holistic, plant-based diet. It’s important for me to know where the food I’m putting in my body is produced. I am, in a sense, against dogmas—I believe everyone should follow a nutrition that is good for themselves.
What was the idea behind opening Wild & The Moon?
My vision actually started with Comptoir 102. Before coming to Dubai, I was living in New York. I got used to the juice bars there. When I got to Dubai, I was shocked to find that there weren’t any juice bars or “healthy” cafes. I decided to open one myself, mostly for my kids and my friends. This is how Comptoir 102 was born in 2012. It got successful very fast. I saw the potential growing for a plant-based concept, so I decided to open Wild & The Moon in 2015. I then opened my first branch in Paris, in February 2016. Wild & The Moon is about recycling, sustainable living, and about giving back. It was like that from day 1, and it just had to be this way.
Wild & The Moon was in some sort of ways a pioneer of the vegan scene in the region. What kind of challenges did you have to face back then?
There were a lot of challenges. First, I did not know Dubai, I did not know how people would react to a plant-based concept. There was also the challenge of finding good organic products. It’s difficult to find these in the region, especially with the chemicals used in the farms, and the lack of minerals in the sand. Thankfully, I came across a German farm called Greenheart when I was reading the newspaper. I met with the owner and she helped me with the idea. She couldn’t commit to a huge volume for the restaurant, so I would adapt my menu every day to whatever products could be delivered. There were also administrative challenges as I was fighting with my business partners at the time.
Wild & The Moon knows what it’s talking about: there’s a certain expertise and knowledge. How did you cultivate this knowledge?
It really comes from the way I was raised. I grew up eating greens and plant-based meals ever since I was a kid. At home, we would prefer natural medicine. It was always about going back to nature. And this translates to the knowledge we have at Wild & The Moon—it’s not a marketing scheme.
Could you please tell us about the process that goes on behind the food and the products? (food preparation, transportation, etc.)
We have a central kitchen for al of our stores, where everything is home-made and home-produced. It’s separated into some sorts of “ateliers”. We have a place for cold pressed juices, a place for hot dishes, etc. Then, from the central kitchen, the food is transported to the stores.
Could you tell us a little bit about your menu and the different options?
The menu consists of frozen bowls, salad bowls, blue magic bowls, smoothies (with home-made almond “mylk”), tajin, curry, cold-pressed juices, etc.
We know that you’ve opened a branch in Paris. Are there any other locations you are thinking of? What are future plans for Wild & The Moon?
We have 3 branches in Dubai and 6 in Paris. Hopefully by 2020, we’re considering opening more branches across Europe.
Finally, any last words on the current vegan scene in Bahrain and the Arab Region? (any critique, wishes, recommendations.)
There’s a huge difference between 2012 and now. When I first opened, the clientele consisted mostly of French people and expats. Now, a lot of customers are Emiratis. Awareness has been raised in the region, which I think grew even faster here because people started realizing they needed a healthy lifestyle to prevent problems such as obesity.
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