Model, nutritionist and blogger Danielle Copperman launched her quinoa-based breakfast goods after raising interest through Instagram. They’re a sugar-free, dairy-free and grain-free alternative to granola. She talks us through building and ‘living’ her brand.
Can you introduce us to Qnola – where did it all begin, what was the inspiration, and what makes it special?
Qnola began as a simple alternative to oat-based granolas, which I made for myself upon cutting gluten, grains and refined sugar out of my diet. It began in my home kitchen and was inspired by standard shop-bought granola, I guess. What makes it special and unlike other granolas and cereals is that it is completely gluten-free, completely grain-free and is the only granola made with quinoa.
Quinoa makes the products high in protein, fibre, healthy fats and amino acids, and is easier to digest for many people than oats and other cereals. Our products are all sweetened gently and naturally with coconut palm sugar. We use raw nuts and seeds, as well as deeply nourishing superfood powders to ensure each product has more to offer than most other cereal products on the market.
Once you’d had the idea for your product, how did you go about making it a reality and putting it into production?
It all happened very naturally. I had the idea and the only thing that make me think about putting it into production was the response I got when I posted a picture of it (capturing my own breakfast) on Instagram. Several followers placed an order with me via e-mail and without real packaging or labels, I used to type out their names on a label machine by hand. As demand grew, I noticed there really was space on the shelves for a truly healthy and delicious breakfast product that wasn’t full of sugar – however natural. Qnola is perfect for all kinds of diets and is ideal for growth and repair, especially for active people.
Several followers placed an order with me via e-mail and without real packaging or labels, I used to type out their names on a label machine by hand.
As the founder, how much emphasis and attention do you feel falls on you – in terms of living the brand and its philosophy, the lifestyle decisions you make, etc? Is this ever challenging?
As the founder of Qnola I feel a lot of attention falls on me but luckily I do live the brand and its philosophy – that’s the main driving force behind the company. I wouldn’t create or promote anything I wasn’t passionate about. Don’t get me wrong, I have days when I eat gluten or commercial granolas occasionally; but most of the time I create Qnola, and recipes based around the Qnola philosophy, because they genuinely taste amazing and make me feel good.
From engaging with customers at shows and events, what type of feedback/comments/concerns do you hear a lot – with regards to your products and the industry overall? And how do you respond?
Thankfully we have mostly positive feedback. People love the idea and love the flavour and taste of the products – the only thing that can put people off is the price point. We usually respond to this with information about how and where we source our ingredients. We use mostly organic ingredients, which are more expensive than non-organic. We use Bolivian quinoa. We use coconut oil, chia seeds, superfood powders from all over the world and coconut sugar too – all of which are expensive to source as they generally aren’t very local.
The ingredients are also good quality – and you really do have to pay more for that. People mostly compare the price with oat-based products, oats being around 6/7 times cheaper than quinoa. Everything else so far has been positive and we respond to this by finding out more of what the customer wants and making it happen.
Brands with a purpose and a passion go further than brands driven by money. You may not make as much money as them, but you will make far more of a change and you’ll make something worthwhile and genuine.
Any golden advice for like-minded entrepreneurs and businesses?
Start now, there will never be a right time. Also, only set something up that you truly believe in. Brands with a purpose and a passion go further than brands driven by money. You may not make as much money as them, but you will make far more of a change and you’ll make something worthwhile and genuine.