Welcome back to our Founder Stories series, where we sit with inspiring and influential women to dive into their entrepreneurial journey and discuss all things business (and wellness). Today, we speak with Papillon Luck, the founder of modern health brand JetFuel.
In 2016, after having already founded and sold two startups, including one in wellness, Papillon moved on to launching her third. She knew she wanted to stay in the health and wellness industry, as she was still as excited by it as she was back in 2008 when she launched her outdoor fitness bootcamps and beach weekend retreats. But this time she wanted to manufacture a product range to help more people live their healthiest life. A mission that drives all personal trainers.
FLAURA: What inspired you to start JetFuel?
Papillon: JetFuel was originally created for frequent flyers to help care for their wellness routine when travelling, as a result of my own experience in corporate banking. More recently I would personal train clients who struggled to stay healthy when they were on business trips. So I created JetFuel for them.
But our regular business traveller customers started to use their travel supplements back home and in the office (especially to help them through a hangover), not just on the road.
They asked us to next create a capsule range to help with life fatigue when they weren’t travelling. That’s how the new range was born.
F: What makes JetFuel different to other supplement brands?
Everything. We’re 100% filler free. We contain no bulking agents or excipients. With as many as 90% of vitamins potentially containing fillers, we found the UK’s only filler free manufacturer to make JetFuel, who also happens to use 100% sustainable energy sourced from the greenest energy source in Britain.
It means our veggie capsules are made with 100% clean renewable energy – a UK first (as far as we know). Our high quality ingredients and smart capsule technology also equal a faster absorption rate and improved bioavailability.
To care for the planet’s health too, we also sourced 100% recyclable pouches. We opted for alternative materials, such as sugar and corn which biodegrades within 40 day days.
Lastly, with every purchase of JetFuel, Vitamin Angels UK provides 5 women and children with life changing nutrients in the UK and around the world.
F: Could you describe the journey from when you started to now?
We launched JetFuel in summer 2019 on Net a Porter and Mr Porter with a luxury range of jet lag supplements and botanical infusion teas formulated for travellers looking to stay healthy travelling the world. The supplements were originally in powder form to hydrate and replenish the nutrients lost through long haul travel at once, as jet lag is 90% the result of dehydration.
JetFuel had a high profile launch. It made its way into the GQ men of the Year £20k goodie bags and even Stormzy and David Beckham received them.
Back in March 2020, JetFuel was due to launch on board some of the biggest middle Eastern airlines, in airport duty free, in store in Harrods and John Bell and Croyden and in select 5* London luxury hotels. I’d spent 2 years hustling to get these airline contracts and JetFuel was about to be included in onboard amenity kits.
We were already developing our new daily range when COVID decimated the luxury and mainstream travel industry overnight. So my team pivoted out of travel and launched our new JetFuel ‘At Home’ range consisting of the 5 new lifestyle vitamin products and the complementary botanical tea infusions to help tackle life fatigue, something we’re all experiencing after 12 months in lockdown.
F: Many of us have had to adapt to new ways of working, especially digitally/remotely. How do you keep your team motivated amidst all the changes?
Our team has always been global with half our rock stars based in Melbourne and the other half in the UK. I’ve always believed you find the best hires around the world regardless of their location and you make the time zones work.
Australia and the UK is a fantastic time zone to build a team across, because if everyone can turnaround work quickly before the other side of the world wakes up, you end up with a team working on JetFuel 24/7. There’s rarely any down time.
It will be nice for us all to meet up in person as soon as life allows. I’ve previously had face to face teams who didn’t gel or work as efficiently as our remote team.
F: Have you had any setbacks along the way – and if so, how do you stay optimistic in the face of such challenges?
It’s been a tumultuous journey, with several pivots that led to an entire rebuild of the brand and product range, having only just finished officially launching it in the travel space 6 months earlier. You just have to have rock solid faith that your team will find a way to overcome whatever challenges are thrown at them, even COVID.
F: What’s the most rewarding part of your day now?
The most rewarding part of the day is hearing the constant feedback we always receive about how incredible our customer support is. That makes me incredibly happy. I learnt alot from an amazing Glossier experience that led me to totally redesign our customer service. It’s both fun and rewarding for our team to treat people amazingly well, when few brands genuinely do.
F: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I used to listen to so many guru’s but all it did was confuse me and set me back. Now I only ever take advice from those who have done it and achieved the goal I’m obsessed with. I’m in some incredible ecommerce Facebook groups with founders who have done $1m in sales in a day multiple times over. They are the people I’ll listen to.
My absolute favourite is Tony Robbins. Whenever he speaks, it’s always so profound. But my favourite quote of his is that ‘Life is always happening for you not to you’. I say it to myself daily because if you truly believe this, it mentally sets you free.
You’re meant to experience everything you’re going through however hard it gets, it’s all taking you to something better and none of it is to be short cut or avoided. You’re never failing, you’re just always learning what didn’t work.
Life is always happening for you, not to you. That alone was worth the ticket price of UPW ten times over.
F: What advice would you give to other women looking to start their own business?
I’m not sure anything in life is more rewarding than starting your own business. But it’s a very challenging choice and there are definitely easier ways of living your life.
The emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows experienced in just one day requires a certain mindset to find it a thrilling adventure that will force you to grow into a different person. If you can’t stop thinking about an idea you’ve had to impact people’s lives, then take the leap.
I always find personally, it is better not to have a Plan B as it detracts from Plan A. As long as I’ve burnt my boats and there’s no way back, I have to make it work.
And when your back is against the wall, you always do. It’s always deeply uncomfortable but that’s where the growth is.
F: Are you working on any new/exciting projects you can tell us about?
I think team JetFuel has had enough excitement working 14 hour days for the last 6 months to relaunch the new product range and re-brand.
I always have a huge vitamins and supplement product range ready in the wings to launch when the time is right. But for now, our team is just focusing on getting the newly launched range out into the world to help as many people as possible live their best life whilst giving back to Vitamin Angels and supporting those who need our help.
Top Wellness Habits
- Wake up at 5am every morning and firstly have a cup of JetFuel herbal tea (Health is my favourite at that time of day).
- I then do 2 meditations, a Tony Robbins priming session and a Master Co spiritual meditation and some journaling about future goals.
- Then I walk briskly for 60 minutes around the farm as the sun comes up, listening to a business audio book. I used to take our black lab but sadly she passed away this winter after 16 years. My walks just aren’t the same without her by my side.
- Back for a healthy breakfast and to take my daily vitamins.
- I’m in bed for 8pm as I need a lot of sleep. My brain seems to solve all my problems when I’m asleep, so much so, that sometimes if I’m really struggling to find a solution, I’ll have a nap in the middle of the day and the answer soon appears.