Riddle me This… Julianne Ponan
Up close and personal with the CEO of superfood snack business Creative Nature
If you knew then what you know now… would you still do it?
Yes, my partner said to me once that ‘everything that happens, every decision you have made, good or bad, has brought you to where you are today and, if you are happy where you are now, you shouldn’t regret anything’. I do believe in that even though it has been a struggle and it probably would have been easier starting a company from scratch rather than starting in over £56,000 losses; I wouldn’t have learnt all the incredible things along the way.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
There are so many pieces of advice, I’m not sure how to choose as they have each changed me in various ways, so let me share one from my childhood.
I moved schools a lot and my mum and dad said to me, ‘Make sure you know everyone in your class by the end of the year’ and each day they would ask, Who have you met that is new today?’
I did not understand back then why they wanted me to get to know every single person. However, now I realise that this enabled me to network and your network when building a business becomes so important. You can learn from every single person you meet, whether it be on a train or at a dinner. It also taught me that not everyone will want to talk to you but, if you don’t try, you will never know.
Another incredible bit of advice I got during a tough period in year 2 of my Creative Nature journey was when you feel like quitting, think about why you started in the first place.
What was your biggest break?
My biggest break was probably when we secured a launch into Tesco and we were still just a two-person company. Scaling the company up to deliver the first order was difficult, but seeing our products in store made it all worth it!
Since then, launching into The Co-operative, Asda and Sainsbury’s has taught me how to scale the business quickly by having the infrastructure in place.
What’s the weirdest rumour you’ve ever heard about yourself?
I’m not sure really, there have probably been many along my journey in business. You will always have haters the more successful you are. Just keep your head up and keep moving forward.
Do you consider yourself lucky?
I would say the harder you work, the luckier you get, I think a mix of determination, talent and luck are a great mix. I do pinch myself sometimes and ask, ‘Is this real though?’ when winning an award or being a guest judge on Britain’s Next Top Model.
However, yes, I think I am very lucky to have my partner, Matthew, as I would not have been able to do this without his support and his awesome logical brain to help with the operations side!
My business started because I suffer from anaphylaxis and, even though I wouldn’t say I am lucky to have that, I am lucky to be able to have created something to make other people’s lives easier when suffering from it with Creative Nature snacks and free-from baking mixes!
What’s most important in your life?
Family, Matthew (Creative Food’s operations manager) and time.
What brands do you admire?
I admire all brands with purpose and aim to make people’s lives better and easier, especially ones that have started from nothing and really disrupting their industry. To name a few – Innocent Drinks, Arctic berries and Healthy Nibbles.
Do you have a guilty pleasure – if so what is it?
Oh, this is a hard one! I would have to say watching girly TV series like Vampire Diaries.
Describe your personal sense of style.
I used to love to be a fashionista with the latest bag and dresses and still do when I have the time, but to be honest my day-to-day sense of style is casual and whatever is comfy to get the work done!