Best small business
Entrepreneur of the year
My dad started and bankrolled Creative Nature, but due to complications with the management team he had in place, accepted a management buyout from me in 2012 when I completely changed the focus, product range and ethos of the business. He remained as an adviser to me, but took a back seat in the everyday running of the business. I immediately brought my partner into the business and we ran it as a 2-person business for 3 years before we grew and hired more staff. I was 22 when I bought Creative Nature and it was in over £56,000 losses at the time. I launched innovative products to market that have gained us listings in Co-op, Sainsbury’s, ASDA, TK Maxx and many more, including overseas distribution. Our snack bar range has won more Great Taste Gold Stars than any of our competitors, with 2 of our bars creating history in the awards by being the first in their categories (first cold-pressed bar to win 2 Gold Stars, first high protein bar to win a Great Taste award). The difference between us and our competitors is how many people we cater for. Our baking mixes are free from the top 14 allergens, our snack bars are nut free, gluten free, dairy free.
In 2017 we successfully pitched our business on BBC’s Dragon’s Den but later turned the investment down because our sales in Sainsbury’s and Co-op were so good that the valuation given by the dragons undervalued our company. We were in the top 10 new products launched into Sainsbury’s in 2017 and in the top 3 best-selling health bars in Co-op within the first 6 months of launching (with 1 more bar being launched in January 2018 because of good sales).
Our apprentices have grown with us so much that we now have one as our Sales Manager in charge of the ASDA, Sainsbury’s and Co-op accounts. Polly started with us as an apprentice with limited skills, but a lot of desire to learn. She quickly learned good phone manner and impressed me at trade shows, so we took her to sit in on our first meeting with ASDA. It took a lot of coaching, but she soon contributed during meetings with the large supermarkets and within her first year was leading meetings with cafes, gyms and smaller retailers. I set her very demanding targets in her 2nd year with us and she hit each one, earning herself a fully paid holiday to Mexico for her management of key accounts. By the end of 2017, Polly had helped bring in over £250k worth of business.
Best Small Business:
We epitomise what it is to be a small business, with limited resources, limited staff but a lot of determination and focus to outperform competitors with larger teams and more money to spend. As a team of 2, both under 25, we launched our products into Ocado, Holland & Barrett and nationwide in Tesco before having to pull out of H&B and Tesco due to margin difficulties and a multi-billion pound pharmaceutical company copying our products. Instead of giving up, we launched new innovative products, brought on 2 apprentices and launched into ASDA, Co-op, Sainsbury’s and more. Our snack bars have now won more Great Taste Awards than any of our competitors, including brands turning over more than £10M like Nakd. We have launched our products overseas into Iceland, Switzerland, Portugal, Scandinavia, Jordan, Malta and Dubai, with offices like Google and the World Health Organisation choosing Creative Nature bars for their staff. In 2018 we will be launching our bars with Thomas Cook and have a 2nd airline confirmed, this is for our nut-free bars, something that our competitors have failed to capitalise on. We are also in final stage talks with a leading coffee chain, with a first order of almost 700k bars. Not only are we outperforming larger competitors, we are looking at changing our packaging from recyclable to fully home compostible so that we reduce any negative impact our company has on the environment, something that our competitors aren’t currently looking at.
Entrepreneur (entry submitted by Matthew Ford (partner):
Julianne should be entrepreneur of the year because of all of her achievements as owner/CEO of Creative Nature, the obstacles she’s overcome on her journey and her efforts to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs through mentorship and motivational speaking. At 9, Julianne became one of the youngest recorded cases of pancreatitis in the UK, gaining newspaper coverage. She was given 4 hours to live. She beat it and then had to overcome it again at 17 when the illness resurfaced, again successfully beating it, even when the doctors gave her a time limit on her life. During her first year at Creative Nature, she was hospitalised with pneumonia, having to run the business from her hospital bed, whilst bringing it out of £56,000 losses and fighting sabotage attempts from the previous management team. After her management buyout when she was 22, she sacked all of the management team because they were stealing money from the business and running it into the ground, they then spent the next 3 years trying to bring the business down by calling Trading Standards on bogus claims, preventing a crowdfunding campaign and ransoming the company URL for £1000’s. Her entrepreneurial spirit ensured she never gave up, choosing not to fight them back, but instead putting her efforts into building and scaling the business. She has now launched the brand into H&B, Tesco, ASDA, Co-op, Sainsbury’s, TK Maxx, Lloyds Pharmacy and overseas all before she is 29. With new launches into airlines and coffee chains set for 2018, her business acumen speaks for itself.
On top of this, Julianne is a mentor for Virgin Startups, motivational speaker across the country and speaker for the Masters of Success with Eric Ho. She has been asked to speak on Brexit on Sky News, been a guest judge on Britain’s Next Top Model and successfully pitched to the dragons on Dragon’s Den.
What town/city are you based in?
West Molesey, Surrey (South East)
Number of generations
Retail & Wholesale – Food & Drink
Number of employees