Vicki Montague is a recipe developer and the founder of The Free From Fairy, a company whose aim it is to inspire those on restricted diets to cook wholesome free from food.
Vicki spent many years working with homeless individuals across the UK and later worked creating policy in economic development. She has an honours degree in Biochemistry and Genetics from the University of Sheffield and has studied counselling, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and nutritional therapy.
She has two children aged 9 and 7, the eldest of which suffered with various food allergies from birth and was diagnosed with coeliac disease at the age of 2.
Vicki started The Free From Fairy as a blog to share her wholesome free from recipes. Subsequently she has developed the world’s first wholegrain rice and gluten free flour blend which she launched in July 2016 to great excitement at the Allergy & Free From Show in London.
Her plain flour blend is now available to buy from online specialist shop, Honest Eats with further stockists planned for autumn 2016. She is currently working on the self-raising blend which should also be available to buy in the autumn of 2016.
Describe a typical day for you?
I get up at around 7am and after a shower I head for the kitchen to make a nutritious breakfast for the kids. I always make them porridge and then they usually have some sugar-free waffles or pancakes made with my wholegrain flour blend. I feel happy sending them off to school knowing they have had a healthy breakfast!
Once they’re at school I set about working. It is very diverse. One day I’ll be developing recipes, the next I’m doing PR, the next I’m writing or speaking to buyers. No two work days are the same.
I collect the kids from school and we get some time to hang out together before I make tea and get the kids to bed. Then it’s back to work most nights.
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
I think there are three.
1) Getting my degree. This was huge because there were many times when I felt like giving up. I suffered with anxiety and insomnia during exam periods, but I overcame this by learning relaxation techniques and yoga which have helped me ever since
2) Having children. Being a huge commitment-phobe getting married was nothing short of a miracle…but having kids certainly rates as a huge achievement. I am terrible with pain but I prepared well for the births using yoga and breathing techniques and needed no/little pain relief. I cannot recommend enough doing some kind of pregnancy yoga. Both of my births were utterly incredible and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
3) Launching my wholegrain flour blend. I think this was the most terrifying. Releasing my ‘baby’ to the world and not knowing how people would react was a huge leap of faith and something that I would never have done as my younger self.
My advice would be do things in life that are difficult and scary…they provide you with the most satisfaction and happiness in the long run!
What’s in your handbag?
I’m not a bag kind of person. I do sometimes take a bag out but that is generally when I don’t have pockets in what I am wearing or I don’t have my husband’s pockets to rely on!
What’s it in? Lots of old recipes, a lip balm, some hand cream, my wallet and phone. I have a terrible habit of stuffing receipts in it and not clearing them out which is why I try not to take a bag anywhere.
What are your ambitions in life?
Ever since I was a child I have wanted to make a difference – to change people’s lives for the better.
I was deeply moved by Band Aid when I was 8…watching the pictures of little children in Africa made me cry and I knew that making a difference somehow was what I had to do.
I studied Biochemistry and Genetics at University because I wanted to find a cure for cancer or AIDS at that time. I soon realised that working in a laboratory was not for me and that I could make a difference directly with people…hence my work with homeless people. During that time I studied counselling and later Neuro Linguistic Programming, in my quest to help people.
It was only after a break from working with people directly that I found my true calling in life.
The Free From Fairy came about because I wanted to share my experience of bringing up a child with multiple food restrictions and inspire people to create their own wholesome free from food that everyone could enjoy together.
Several years after setting up the website and social sites I now have my wholegrain gluten-free flour blend on the market and am making a difference to people in the same situation as me. It’s truly gratifying when I hear from a reader that they have loved one of my recipes or that they made something fabulous with my flour blend. Finally I have found what I love…helping people combined with food!
What career advice do you now know, you wish you’d had on day 1?
Do what you love and if you don’t know what you love then try out lots of different things. Also, don’t push yourself to go straight into further education from school…it is best to wait and find out what you really want to do before leaping into studying something that you then realise wasn’t for you.
However, If you are lucky enough to know what you want to do then make sure you have the right qualifications.
I really wanted to be a Pharmacist but was not given the right careers advice and didn’t take A Level maths, which meant I couldn’t study pharmacy at University.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I’ve no idea!
I am not a big planner, I prefer to see where opportunities take me and how life develops. If I had been a planner then the Free From Fairy would never have happened.
I would love to sell loads of my flour so that I can develop the other products that I have planned, so lets say in 5 years time I have a whole range of wholesome free from products on the market to help people make healthier food choices.
What advice would you give a budding blogger/ business owner?
Follow your dreams. And don’t just dream…make your dreams become a reality. It is only you who is stopping that from happening. If you believe in yourself so will everyone else.
What advice would you give your pre-baby self, that you now know?
Life will be completely and utterly different…enjoy your baby-less years so that you can enjoy motherhood even more. Don’t change anything you did…go to university, find out what you like doing by working in different places, travel, travel travel and enjoy being free!
Finally, happiness is…
Spending time with my husband and children at the seaside.
To find wholesome free from recipes, tips and advice head to Vicki’s website at www.freefromfairy.com. You can also find Vicki across social media as freefromfairy.