We recently sat down with Danielle Copperman, the brains behind, quite possibly, our favourite healthy, grain-free, sugar-free granola brand, Qnola and listened to her business advice and what’s next for this model and entrepreneur!
What was your initial inspiration to start Qnola?
My main inspiration actually came from an authentic and organic demand and requests from people who saw my personal photos and recipes of Qnola on my blog and social media. I was inspired by the response from these people and in realising I wasn’t the only person frustrated by the lack of healthy, quick breakfast options on the market. Then, as I learnt more about nutrition, diet and commercial food, I was inspired to offer change and alternatives for the masses. I guess I was mostly inspired by the lack of healthy options and honest food products on the market, and also by the opportunities that large food & drinks manufactures and the media have been taking to trick consumers into buying falsely advertised foods. I was shocked to discover many things about commercial food products and this instantly ignited a passion within me to do something about it.
What are the core values of Qnola?
Our core values have evolved in line with my own personal core values in life. Qnola began simply as something I personally enjoyed eating, and was never a ‘business idea’ or something I saw as just a way to make money. For this reason it has been driven by passion and our core values lie in so much more than just our products. We emphasise that it is not just about what you eat that determines how well and healthily you can live, but is about so much more, like lifestyle, level of activeness, sleep, mental health , life events, finances, worries, relationships, seasons and so much more. We value using all natural provisions in each of our products, to provide people with simple, intentional and functional ways to improve many aspects of their lives, not just their diets.
How do you juggle your modeling career alongside side Qnola and still have time to workout? What is your secret?
The secret is that I don’t always manage to juggle things at all! But I’ve learnt that when it’s hard or not possible to fit everything in, its ok, and it’s more effective to accept it and focus your energy where it is most needed at the time, even though this might mean slacking in another area. I have still been modeling since setting up Qnola, and have castings, appointments or shoots every week. I lived in New York for a few months too but I made it work by working remotely, which is actually pretty easy in this day in age. I work on set or on lunch breaks when I’m shooting, and if I have a few castings in one day i usually slot some meetings in between them, or a work out en route. I try to do yoga every morning no matter where I am and what I’m doing – learning to guide Strala yoga has equipped me to be able to enhance my own personal practice, which means i don’t need to go to a class, although sometimes, when I can, I do enjoy that! Otherwise, workouts usually happen in the evening, after a day of work, and on weekends. Working from home I often go to Blok, which is really near where I’m living, or do some skipping and a home workout with resistance bands and weights. I think for fitness it is important to find what you enjoy and what works for you, and to think about how you can sustainably work these activities into the current structure and flow of your life. Then it’s kind of easy to rotate different things through each week.
How has starting Qnola increased your knowledge of health and nutrition?
My knowledge of health and nutrition increased mostly before I set up qnola, but working in the health & fitness industry I think I am more aware and intrigued by new studies, stories and other information which is constantly floating around! I think the main thing for me since setting up Qnola is that I have met a lot of people who have taught me new things and inspired me in some ways, and that has extended my knowledge or health and nutrition. On a more technical note, starting Qnola has increased my knowledge of health and nutrition in terms of national health legislations and things like that, as well as many secrets and stories within the food and drink industry, of which I discover something new pretty much every day!
What is the biggest challenge you have faced yet with Qnola?
The end of the first year was the most challenging for me so far, as I was doing literally everything myself (with a few hands from friends and family in times of desperation). it was lonely, demanding and incredibly tough, and I really had no idea what I was doing or how things should be done – everything was guess work. I would say this was the biggest challenge physically and mentally, but there have been many struggles along the way, it’s just much easier when you have someone (like an employee or a partner maybe) to share them with!
What’s been the most rewarding thing about starting your own business?
The response about the products has been the most rewarding part of setting up the business, and seeing people from all over the world buying it, enjoying it, taking photos of it, wanting to import it! It’s crazy and really so amazing. Other rewarding moments include landing Selfridges as our second stockist, and since then working with major retailers, hotels, importers and other brands that are as passionate about our products as we are. Working with many designers during fashion week season is always a major high, as I know how welcome healthy food is on shoots and backstage when you’re often stuck with coffee, coca cola and crisps!
What advice would you give to somebody with a business idea who has a fear of failing?
Be strong, believe in yourself, and know that there is no way to fail if you try your hardest and do what you want to do. The only way to fail is if you have too high or unrealistic expectations or absorb the pressures of the business world and let them determine whether you are successful or not. Whenever I come up against this barrier of feeling worthless or not doing a good enough job, I ask myself what success is, and who defines it, and who decides whether something is successful or not. In reality, there is no one-way to measure success, so the best thing to do is set our own personal goals and focus on them, not the external forces around you. Success for me is being proud of my product, producing something honest and empowering and living a happy and full life, whilst for many entrepreneurs it might be making a certain amount of money, landing a specific retailer, hitting certain growth % increases. It depends what the individual views as a success or as a fail, and it is down to the individual to achieve and avoid those things. Fear is an illusion, and you often fear things that never even end up happening, so don’t let non-existent ideas prevent you from making your first moves.
What are your future goals for Qnola?
We are expanding worldwide which is so exciting, as we want to share our products with as many people as possible. We are also launching new products, and focusing on developing the brand as a lifestyle brand, rather than just a food product. Our Qnola Life range of beauty and home products launched just before Christmas with all natural candles, which can be used as natural body remedies as well as aromatherapy. In the future we will be expanding this range, launching new food products and breakfast snacks, focusing on more events and catering, and many other projects which are currently unfolding in their early stages.
If you had to choose, what flavour Qnola is your ultimate favourite?
The beetroot is my favourite full time flavour, and when we launch our seasonal limited edition flavours throughout the year, the vanilla chia and the sniQkers edition flavours become my favourites!
What flavours are you planning to make in the future?
This spring we are launching a new range of quinoa granola’s called Qnola Oat Crunch, which contain organic quinoa, gluten free oats and a whole host of natural, functional ingredients and antioxidant-rich flavourings. They taste amazing and are more like conventional granola’s but are of course gluten free, made without refined sugar (instead with very low amounts of natural coconut sugar) and free from any other artificial additives. It is still so hard to find low sugar, gluten free granola in the supermarkets, and so I wanted to create a more nourishing version, which is still in keeping with our core values and philosophy and which will sit alongside our more specialised Qnola products.
Following that, we have botanical flavours launching in the summer, breakfast drinks powders, breakfast bars and many more breakfast goods in the pipeline!
Shop Qnola at Wholefoods, Planet Organic and online here!
images: Hip & Healthy