Living the Cheapskate life: OLIO co-founder Saasha Celestial-One on cycling, cinema 'contraband' & redistributing London's food
Saasha Celestial-One is the co-founder and COO of OLIO, the free app which harnesses the power of mobile technology and the sharing economy to provide a revolutionary solution to the problem of food waste. Saasha has been named one of the UK’s 'Coolest Female Founders', has an MBA from Stanford and is mum to Nolan, aged eight.
I rest my head in…
Crouch End, a leafy north London village with great schools and pubs (I’m missing both right now!)
Where’s the cheapest place you’ve lived in London?
In 1997 I was in the UK for a year abroad and I lived with my boyfriend in a bedsit on Essex Road – way back before Essex Road was cool! It was more terrifying than hip back then, but it was cheap… £70 a week if I recall!
When I moved back to London in 2005 I was with [management consultancy company] McKinsey, and they set me up with a one-bed on Portobello Road which I think was about £550 per week (that sounds crazy now!).
Have you had any disastrous London rental experiences?
Well, I had visited the above mentioned Portobello flat on a day when the market was closed. Fresh off the boat, I didn’t know what the market had in store for me
Saturdays under my flat window there was a guy who played the steel drums for passers-by. It was lovey at first, until I realised he only knew a few songs,which he played over and over! It drove us nuts sometimes, but there was also something rather lovely about the bustle of the market on my doorstep, too.
Your perfect no-spend London day would involve...
A 20 mile bicycle ride with my partner and son, a pre-packed picnic for lunch and a second stop on the way back at sunset with some bubbly or beer.
Where’s your favourite free place to visit in the city?
Hampstead Heath – it just feels a world apart.
What’s your top London ‘hack’?
Cycling is faster, free and fun. I don’t know why anyone bothers with public transport!
Have you ever charmed your way out of a fine of some kind?
I once got a £7,000 Vodafone bill because iTunes had automatically started downloading Greys Anatomy using mobile data… I literally freaked out. After months of campaigning, I was able to get it reduced to £700, but it still felt incredibly unfair!
If you were mayor for the day, what would you do?
I’d mandate that all food that was edible but going to waste (millions of meals a day!) was donated to charity or made available to the general community (as charities cannot take all the food) through OLIO so everyone can benefit from free, delicious food which would have otherwise gone to waste.
What’s the biggest London rip off?
I absolutely love the cinema and am amember of the Picturehouse (please re-open soon!) in Crouch End. However, I still find it hard to go to the cinema without literally dropping £50 for tickets, snacks and drinks… a price so dear that I’m more often than not smuggling in what my partner calls ‘contraband’ – my own drinks and food!
If you were going to splurge in London, what would it be on?
Really really amazing tickets to The Book of Mormon or any other fabulous musical!
What are your favourite small businesses in London?
I love a good greengrocer or independent healthfood store. There’s something about seeing all the gorgeous fresh produce on display – it’s so simple and natural but feels luxurious at the same time. There’s a new one nearby on Green Lanes called Mum’s Whole Food which is simply divine.
In three words, what makes someone a Londoner?
Good question! I’ve spent 17 years in London and what I love is that there are just so many different kinds of people living in this city together – it’s like we are all part of the same tribe, a tribe of Londoners. It’s truly ‘a global village’.
Download OLIO, the #1 free sharing app where you’ll find millions of people giving away food and other household items, here.
Interview by Caitlin Allen. Follow her on Twitter here.