Lunching with Emma Bates
Interview

Lunching with Emma Bates

Emma Bates is a British entrepreneur in New York on a mission to revolutionize access to women's health. We lunched in her Lower East Side apartment after her busy morning of pitching investors. While she would’ve preferred soba noodles with chicken and edamame, all she could scrounge up for lunch today was toast and apples. Too relatable.

I studied War studies in uni. It’s a thing, apparently. Loads of people are like, “Horse studies? Oh, do you like riding?” What? No. Why would I study that?

I left uni kind of wanting to change the world but not really knowing how.

I wrote my thesis on sexual and gender-based violence in the Congo. I left uni kind of wanting to change the world but not really knowing how to after learning all of those things. I decided that instead of joining an NGO or the government, I would learn how to run my own company and do something that would impact and better the lives of women across the world, hopefully.

I learnt how to run a company while working at Away and came up with the idea for my startup, Diem, a year and a half ago. It’s had many iterations but we’ve landed on it being a social network. People are familiar with how to use a social network so why not design something like that to potentially be the super-app of women’s health? That’s the first version of the product. From there, many ideas, but that’s the first goal, just to launch that. 

People are familiar with how to use a social network so why not design something like that to potentially be the super-app of women’s health?

I grew up with two parents who love food, always took us to amazing restaurants and cooked amazing food. My grandma used to run a catering company. My mom’s side of the family is Jewish, which technically makes me Jewish, and there’s the classic Jewish mother/grandmother syndrome of cooking way too much food. It’s a real thing.

The classic Jewish mother/grandmother syndrome of cooking way too much food. It’s a real thing.  

I have unfortunately inherited this fear of not providing enough food when you cook or ordering enough food at a restaurant. My boyfriend has a cap on the number of dishes I'm allowed to order. If we're at a sharing restaurant, we can have a maximum of five dishes because before I’d order eight and it would get out of hand. I would eat all of it. Real issue. 

I have inherited this fear of not providing enough food. My boyfriend has a cap on the number of dishes I'm allowed to order.

I really like asian food, it’s fresh and it makes me feel good. My go-to lunch is Soba noodles with spinach and edamame and maybe some cucumber and chicken with some sort of soy dressing. That's what I feel like eating today.

At home, I always have popcorn kernels to make popcorn in a saucepan. That is probably the only thing that’s eminently in my cupboard. Or oat milk. I love oat milk. Oh! And frozen bananas. Game changer.

I always have popcorn kernels to make popcorn in a saucepan. I love oat milk. Oh! And frozen bananas. Game Changer. 

Being good at lunch means being good at fueling yourself with what you need at that point of the day. I look forward to it while I'm working. I can't function without lunch. Also, it’s important to take a break because you’ve already been working for four hours and no one can concentrate for longer than forty-five minutes a time. So take a second, eat whatever makes you feel good, and go back to it. 

Lunch Hour at Diem wouldn’t just be one hour if you felt like taking more time. That’s one thing that really got to me in America: just the lack of your own time… taking a second. Coming from the UK, it's very important to take the time you need if you don’t feel well. For example, if you’re tired and not concentrating, just take a second. Go for a walk, have lunch with your friends and come back to it. I’m very much of that mentality.

That’s one thing that really got to me in America: just the lack of your own time

Lunch Hour at Diem: it could be five minutes but please don’t sit at your desk and eat your food. 

Words by Nayla Al-Mamlouk and Photography by Elena Mudd

Emma's go-to lunchware

The Lunch Kit

Everything you need for dining al desko. Complete with modular InvisiSeal Food Containers, silverware, a sauce pot, napkins and the bag.

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Ready to lunch?

Start by upgrading those old takeout containers made of cheap, toxic plastics.