Ascension Kitchen is run Lauren Glucina with her partner Stipe Vezich. However, it started as a health and wellness blog five years ago. Lauren spoke to the team about her latest range of desserts.
What is your company background, how did you start the business?
“I had a background in advertising which left me burnt out and in need of a career change. So, I fled to Bali for 6 weeks to study Raw Foods. I was filled with enthusiasm when I returned – starting the Ascension Kitchen blog and hosting frequent raw foods workshops. People started asking to buy my desserts, so Stipe encouraged me to develop a commercial recipe.”
“During the research phase, it was clear there was a gap in the market for a premium frozen dessert. I had meanwhile started studying Natural and Nutritional Medicine, so if I was going to make a cake, it had to align with my health philosophy. It had to be allergen friendly (due to a chequered health history, I was all too familiar with the frustrations of not ever being able to source something quality on-the-go to meet my dietary requirements!), it had to be entirely free from commercial nasties, and it had to be 100 per cent plant-based. No easy feat, nevertheless, 200+ iterations later and LIVELY Desserts were born.”
“Once I had the recipes, the baton was passed to Stipe. He had to tackle the commercialisation of an incredibly expensive and intricate recipe. We were both new to the food industry, so had to rely purely on a can-do attitude. There were road blocks at every turn, and time and again people would say it just couldn’t be done. Well, here we are and we did it!”
What is the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?
“We have four flavours in our LIVELY Desserts range; Espresso Zest, Dark Mint, Banana Cacao and Mango Lassi.”
“They taste indulgent, yet are made from real food ingredients I have in my own home kitchen. They’re entirely vegan, made with raw and organic ingredients. Sweetened naturally with whole fruits, organic brown rice syrup and a dash of stevia. They are made without cane sugar, wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, soy or nuts, and are free from all commercial nasties: gums, emulsifiers, thickeners, stabilisers, E numbers and the like. So what is left then?! They are coconut-based, spiked with Ayurvedic spices, superfoods and premium quality, pure essential oils.”
“We’re equally as proud of the packaging as we are the product – they’re premium, beautiful to look at and stand out on the shelves.”
Has there been any recent company news?
“We recently moved to a lovely new premise in West Auckland which so far is serving us well. Our family generously donate their time in the kitchen to help us produce, though we have just started to bring on some staff.”
What are the plans for the business moving forward, is there any expansion on the horizon?
“We will be adding to the LIVELY range at some point in the future. I have also been working on an innovative new product that draws more on my background as a herbalist.”
Where are your products currently available to buy, and are you looking at or wanting to expand your availability?
“LIVELY Desserts are available at select New World stores in Auckland and Wellington, and specialty food stores such as Farro Fresh and Huckleberry. We hope to reach the South Island (there has already been quite some demand for it!) and will then make our way to Australia. For a full list of stockists visit http://livelydesserts.com/”