CEO and owner of Creative Nature Superfoods, Julianne Ponan, appeared on our tv screens this weekend as the BBC repeated her appearance on Dragons’ Den which was first aired in the summer of 2017. Since then she has been named as one to watch in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list 2019.
Julianne, who lives in Walton On Thames in Surrey, took over a company called Creative Nature eight years ago at the age of 22. She re-designed the company, moving away from its original focus and turned it into a free-from food brand which caters for people with food allergies and intolerance – just like her.
Julianne has anaphylaxis and is allergic to all nuts, many seeds and many other substances in the environment, from skin care products through to aftershaves or perfumes. She had her first severe anaphylactic shock as a toddler, when her allergies were first discovered and has been in intensive care several times throughout her life.
This condition and its daily effect on her life inspired her to grow and develop Creative Nature.
At the time of appearing on the BBC show, Creative Nature products were already stocked in several supermarkets and its turnover was around £450K. At the end of the programme, Julianne was offered investment of £75,000 for 25 per cent of her business from Dragon, Deborah Meaden.
“Very quickly after the offer, some other contracts with supermarkets were confirmed and I began to reassess the situation as we started the due diligence process,” Julianne said. “While I was very grateful for Deborah’s support and knew her expertise would have been amazing, I felt it wasn’t the right route for us at that time. Deborah was very understanding and wished us well.”
Since then the business has gone on to grow – today turnover is well over £1.5million and the company is exporting to 11 countries overseas and is now available in supermarkets including Sainsbury’s, Co-op and Asda. The product range is expanding with two new products coming this year. Further investment also came through a Seedrs crowdfunding campaign which raised over £500k based upon a valuation of £6million.
Julianne said: “Since appearing on the show, we’ve all continued to work hard, develop new products, with more coming onstream over the coming months. Our team has got bigger and we are moving forward steadily. We are now a go-to free from brand not only for those who suffer from allergy and food intolerance but also from those who are nutrition conscious or who are vegan and vegetarian.
“I’m also giving talks around the country to inspire other young entrepreneurs and I also have involvement in campaigning for better labelling on all food products to achieve food parity for those living with life-threatening food allergies.”
Julianne already has a host of awards to her name including being named one of the Forbes 30 Under 30, the National NatWest Everywoman Artemis Award for Women Entrepreneurs and Young Director of the year in the IOD Awards. Creative Nature took the title of the FSB’s Small Business of the Year in 2018.
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