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This Way Forward with Shelagh Ryan, Lantana

We are well and truly into B Corp Month, an annual campaign to celebrate everything it means to be a B Corp. As we covered in our last blog post, the theme this year is 'This Way Forward' and is all about how we, as B Corps, are moving the dial and growing our impact together.

As part of this, we’re interviewing other B Corps in our community to learn about them, their journey and how they plan to grow over the year ahead. To kick off our interview series, we sat down with fellow female founder Shelagh Ryan of Lantana, a Good & Proper Partner bringing a little taste of Australia to London.

Can you tell us more about Lantana and how you started?

I opened the first Lantana in Fitzrovia in 2008 with my sister Caitlin and her husband Michael – 3 Aussie expats living in London. The vision was to transport Australian café culture to London.

Lantanas are South American flowers that were introduced to Australia and thrived. It's become an iconic plant that holds a place of affection with Aussies. The flower thrives in unlikely places and that is a metaphor for us!

Three men in black chef's hats, aprons, and black polo shirts stand smiling with their arms around each other in front of a building with yellow awning.

Was becoming a B Corp a logical next step for you?

I was attracted to B Corp because it encompasses everything you do as a business – workers, customers, suppliers, and planet. Lantana has always tried to do the right thing by our workers, our customers and our suppliers. We wanted to check that our good intentions were having the desired effect. It’s forced us to shine a light on what we do well, and where we can improve. 

A barista prepares coffee in a Lantana cafe. People are in the background eating at their table.

As a business renowned for its excellent Aussie service, your team is critical to ensuring that your customers leave happy. How do you support your people so they can bring their best selves to work?

We’ve always encouraged diversity and individuality in our teams. Everybody is free to be themselves which in-turn empowers a stronger, happier team. We want hospitality to be considered as a real career choice and for us that means paying our people fairly, with transparency, for equal reward, improving conditions in hospitality (eg. paid overtime for salaried employee, no doubles), offering training and skill development, and two-way communication so that our people have a say in the way Lantana is run.Two smiling women, one with black hair wearing an apron with the Lantana logo and the other with ginger hair wearing a black polo shirt and orange bottoms, stand side by side with their arms around each other in front of a shop front.

Are there any achievements you’re particularly proud of?

In an industry dominated by male managers, CEOs, MDs and founders, I’m delighted to say that women are strongly represented in leadership roles in Lantana.

  • Four out of our five person leadership team are women
  • 71% of our restaurant managers are female (67% of GMs and 75% of deputies)
  • 67% of internal promotions in 2023 were women.

Words of advice you would give to other organisations, whether aspiring B Corps or New Bs, on how they can ensure their teams are engaged in the journey ahead?

Constant communication about what your values are as a business. Increasingly people want to work for businesses that are ethical and trying to make a difference. For example, our teams know that Lantana has a commitment to supporting local, fellow independent suppliers (like Good & Proper Tea!) and that is something they can feel proud of.  halfhalf

With this month’s theme being all about ‘This Way Forward’, we’d love to know what is the biggest thing you’re focusing on improving this year at Lantana?

A key area of focus for us is how we can further reduce our carbon footprint. This includes minimising food waste, using renewable energy, measuring and reducing food carbon emissions, minimising single-use packaging, and using low-carbon couriers and deliveries.

With multiple sites across London, from London Bridge to Fitzrovia, you're spoilt for choice for a place to enjoy proper Aussie grub and a good brew. To keep up with Lantana's journey, you can find them on Instagram and Facebook.



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