F O U N D E R , O W N E R , E N T R E P R E N E U R , P A R T N E R , F A T H E R , S O N.
The Doer who follows his intuition and opportunities is always guided by nature, and happiest when he can express his creativity hands-on.
The heart of Wholefoods House has always been our community. A beautiful network of creators, conscious consumers & passionate staff – people who care deeply.”
In June 2004, 16 years ago now, three people joined forces to pursue an idea. First sparked by working together Eliot and his initial business partner Trevor set out to create their own version of a wholefoods paradise. Equipped with years of experience in the corporate world Eliot’s father, Stephen, joined as third partner to complete the initial team.
When asked about the recipe for Wholefoods House’s success Eliot can’t help but smile and finally say: “In all honesty, luck. Luck was a huge part of it. And following some sound advice from people I trust. For example, make your mistakes on a small scale first.” This advice ultimately led to finding the first store location on Queen Street in Woollahra which, as luck would have it, turned out to be the perfect location for Wholefoods House, and in retail location is everything!
For Eliot it was always clear that wholefoods businesses are best grown organically. Forced or artificial growth is never going to result in anything sustainable with substance. Just like organic farmers need patience, persistence and focus so does an entrepreneur according to him. He also suggests that a hint of stubbornness and perfectionism were essential in enabling Wholefoods House to survive and thrive among the conglomerates and grocery giants running 100’s of stores and all vying for organic market share.
Eliot made it his mission to find the best and freshest organic fruits and vegetables in Sydney, he lovingly calls it his obsession which soon became one of the core values and services of Wholefoods House. It is also why people across the Eastern Suburbs heard about the small store boasting the most radiant organic produce and winning the loyalty of food connoisseurs and conscious consumers.
“To recognise a demand for products and services and find a way to fill the gap excites me.”
Eliot was curious and inventive from a very young age setting him up to become an entrepreneur. At the tender age of 11 he wanted to make his own money so together with a friend started asking neighbours if they needed any jobs done around the house and garden or their car washed. One day the boys observed all the cars that had to stop at the traffic lights so they just started washing windscreens for a couple of coins and soon discovered they could make up to $100 each on a good day.
The instinct for business persisted throughout his youth. Years later while working at a local organic store he observed that Wheatgrass juice was so popular it kept selling out by 10am so he quickly became a Wheatgrass grower and juicer, quit his job and became a supplier to that store and others in Sydney’s metro.
When asked about his greatest successes he points out the community that has formed around Wholefoods House, all the incredible people that have contributed to the business’s success and the many deep friendships that have developed from beginnings at Wholefoods House.
“Wholefoods House grew way beyond me years ago, it has become its own entity and its success would not be possible without the passion and talents of everyone involved. I am so proud to work in a business that is driven by good intentions. Everyday I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of this community. ”
“I am the happiest when I am immersed in either nature or creativity.”
Being a true family business Eliot’s father, mother and his four siblings have all been involved at one time or another but according to Eliot Wholefoods House wasn’t always intended as a family business, it just kind of happened. Having family involved has been a great comfort to Eliot, there was a sense of understanding and loyalty he knew he could rely on, especially when things got challenging. Eliot’s father passed away in 2017 and though it has been difficult he recognises that without the experience of building Wholefoods House together he may never have appreciated the extent of his father’s wisdom & generosity. He also met his partner Alex here and now they have a family of their own with two boys. These are among the things Eliot counts as his greatest blessings and he received them care of Wholefoods House.
“Looking after a business is a bit like parenting. I see it as my responsibility to be observant and listen to the business’s needs and then find a way to support it on its path as best I can. As owner I am only facilitating its organic growth and allowing the business to follow its natural progression.”
This year it just felt right to extend our offering in the form of a click & collect service because it has become an important service required by many of our customers in managing the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. We also want to make sure we grow with our customers and understand their needs today as well as we did when we started 16 years ago.”
Click below for a pdf version of the interview:
A seat at the table_Eliot Rickards
Photo credit: Rita Ince