We talk to Creative Nature’s founder Julianne Ponan and chat about superfoods, why fair trade really matters and the Bejing food culture.
Where did your love of super foods originate from?
My mum is from Kenya and my dad is from South America (Guyana), so I have always been exposed to the native ‘superfoods’ that they used to eat as children. I used to do a lot of dance and needed to keep my energy levels up and figure as trim as possible; eating these native fruits really helped me out. When I took over at Creative Nature, I wanted to provide our customers with natural products that actually benefit people, which is why I only source from the countries with the most nutrient rich foods.
I use Chia Seeds, Barley Grass and Spirulina from the range on a daily basis and also have the snack bars when I need a quick pick-me-up.
You spent some time in Beijing; did the culture and food have any influence in your journey to where you are now?
Working in Beijing was such an amazing experience learning the ways of business and life. Their culture is very different and things never seem to stop in Beijing, which is always nice. I did love going and seeing the tea houses which have so many different herbs that are good for many things.
What has your relationship with food been like throughout your life?
My worst eating patterns were probably at university when I had a lot of late night coursework to do and especially during my dissertation. If I’d known then about Guarana Powder and Spirulina, I would have saved myself a lot of stomach aches and probably had a clearer head! Since being at Creative Nature, I make sure that I try to have three full meals a day and balance my intake of carbs, protein and fats. I add the superfoods to my meals and smoothies so I’m naturally increasing my vitamin, mineral and nutrient intake. I also drink a lot more water and am definitely feeling the healthiest I have in my whole life. I am lucky to have top nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert (Rhitrition.com) as a close personal friend as well as on board the Creative Nature Team. She advises me on what’s good to eat and what I should stay well clear of!
What advice would you give to any aspiring super foodies out there or anyone who is thinking of starting their own food based business? Think of new and exciting things to do with Superfoods! At the moment there are a lot of companies just jumping on the bandwagon, not offering anything new or better, just trying to make money off the word ‘superfood’. It’s a shame because they tend to be selling the lower quality products but are using the fact that superfoods are still quite new and customers aren’t as savvy to sell them as beneficial. The one thing I keep telling people is ‘always look at the products origin’. Know what you are buying.
What would you say are the superfoods to watch out for in 2015 and 2016?
Cacao is definitely growing in popularity and this is shown by the fact that we gained a listing in both Tesco and Ocado with our powder and nibs. Being the first UK superfood company listed in a big supermarket was very important to us and proves that the UK consumer is ready for truly healthy foods. Chia variations will be more readily available in 2016 as the popularity of Chia Seeds increases and people start wanting more.
Guarana Powder is still yet to hit popularity, even though it’s used by the big energy companies and has been proven to sustain energy levels. I hope that it will be a well recognised superfood in the near future as it is the healthy alternative to coffee, energy drinks and supplements.
Creative Nature bars are all ethically sourced, how important has fair trade and ethically sourced brands and products become to today’s consumers?
Knowing that what you are eating has been ethically sourced is a massive thing nowadays. A lot of people are realising that the devastation left behind in the palm oil trade, or the treatment of farmers in rural areas by the multi-national corporations is immoral, illegal and will have a lasting effect on the entire world. Unfortunately, a lot more still needs to be done and it’s up to the consumers to let their voices be heard. If you stop buying a product because it is using an ingredient that forces animals out of their habitats or causes mass deforestation, that company will be forced to act. Together we can make a difference.
We love the Creative Nature recipe section. What’s your own fall back recipe if you are short on time?
The easiest recipe for me is my morning smoothie; 1 banana, heaped tablespoon of Maca Powder, half a teaspoon of Guarana Powder, handful of Goji Berries and tsp of Chia, as much Oat Milk as will fill the glass. Whizz it all up in the blender. Simple energy smoothie that takes about 2 minutes.
What three morning rituals do you always follow?
Well, I’ve just started to have a warm glass of water with half a lemon squeezed in, so we will see how that goes. I will normally get up, have a half hour Zumba session, have either a superfood porridge a smoothie, or a shot of Hawaiian Spirulina, shower then off to work. If I know I’ve got a busy morning, I might sneak a Blissful Berry bar in too!
What’s next for you and for Creative Nature Superfoods?
We want to be the biggest superfood brand there is, providing ethically sourced, truly healthy products to a global customer base. We’re not in this business to exploit; we want to help improve the health and wellbeing of our customers whilst offering our suppliers the opportunity to make a fair living and improve the stability of their communities. At the end of the day, we are doing superfoods because we want to make people healthy; if the products aren’t working then we’re not doing our jobs! I also personally am a mentor now for Virgin Start Up and enjoy helping young entrepreneurs through my many talks which I want to continue.
Find out more about Creative Nature at www.creativenaturesuperfoods.co.uk