In this instalment of Start-Up Stories, we got to chat to Marianna of Nomad Health: A start-up making delicious gluten-free pasta! See what she had to say about her start-up journey…
What’s the story of Nomad Health?
Nomad Health was born from two gardener’s long-standing dream of making healthy, nutritious & tasty gluten-free pasta. Keith and I are both passionate about food and healthy living, so we started to make pasta out of grains and seeds we knew as gardeners and already used them in our kitchen. We both have medical issues, Keith is diabetic and he’s recently gone through a major heart operation. I am coeliac and allergic to a range of things: gums, emulsifiers, preservatives; as well as both of us lived through the scare of the big C, so we are both appreciate every single day we can spend together and help others. The pastas we made proved to be scrumptious & flavorsome, so we decided to share our tasty invention with others to help them to cope with different conditions and dietary needs, furthermore to give the enjoyment of food back to families, old and young. In addition, our pastas are cooked within 3-7 minutes.
Our mission is simple: making simple, real food which is natural and wholesome. We advocate that food should be authentic and ethical, freshly prepared and tasty – not a mere convenience. We know from own experience how worrying not knowing what we eat exactly, wanting to know what is in our staple items. We say firmly no to: gluten, emulsifiers, coloring’s, artificial additives, processed foods, and GMO.
Our approach is fresh, but the methods we use are traditional (hand mixing and use of bronze dyes) to give you great tasting products with a homemade feel. We hope our creative approach to gluten-free pasta making will pleasantly surprise you!
When people see your logo, what do you want them to think?
During the design process, we were clear about the message we want to convey: traditional, simple, natural food with a hint of color, made by pure nutritious ingredients. The logo contains a lotus flower symbolizing nature.
However if you are an avid gardener you could see a germinating seed – it really depends on your imagination.
What does being a start-up mean to you?
Excitement. Positive change. Growth. Flexibility. Challenge as a human being, as a couple and as a business. You are sometimes so alone it is unimaginable for someone who never established a company. Keith and I have a strong bond, however since we have our company this bond has been tested to its limits: emotionally, physically, financially.
“Being a start-up you get up and go to sleep with thoughts about your business, your products and there is no stop to it.”
The upside is as a start-up we have the freedom to meet with people, to change your receipt or think of a new product and within a month you have it on your kitchen table for sale.
Your pasta is suitable for a lot of people. Being free from gluten, additives and loads more! How long did it take to get it just right?
It took us 2 years to get it right, just the way we wanted. It was really important for us to cater for a wide audience within a niche market such as gluten-free. We think about our pasta first of all as a nutritious, full of protein and goodness product which is gluten-free as a bonus. We are still trying out new recipes and looking for the next best one we like. We recently trialed our Pumpkin Seed pasta – from the autumn it will be available on our website and for wholesale.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My dear friend and ex-boss used to say: turnover is vanity, profit is sanity but cash is king. We just passed our 2nd birthday as a company and now we are focusing fully on sales. Do your homework, get your budget (personal and business) right and if there is a need get a 2nd or 3rd job. We work full time as well as both us has a 3rd job to pay for our living, to invest in the growth of the company and dream up new products.
“Do whatever it takes to get your dream out in the big wide world and you will find those who appreciate the good you are doing.”
How did your first sale feel?
Amazing! When we received our first online sale we danced around the living room and we could not believe it ! We packed the first parcel, and that night we barely could sleep we were so excited!
What’s the journey been like to get to where you are now?
Really great! We met with lots of lovely people, customers, fellow artisan producers, buyers and shop owners.
“I genuinely can say the artisan seen of the food industry is full of talented, amazing people with great ideas.”
We have tried so many different products and this is the sentence I thought I would never say! We had our ups and downs, and this year we are working on securing external funding the first time ever, so we can solely focus on the business and one of us can give up his or her main job. We get the inspiration and boost form our customers, and it is vital when you are going through a rough patch. We receive lots of testimonies like below:
“My daughter and I adore your pasta range. She has coeliac disease, a dairy allergy and intolerance to soya and refined sugar so your pastas/products are perfect for her. I also love that they are so nutritious and much healthier than any other pasta we have come across ☺”
Where can people find your perfect pastas?
Online, on our website, in selected shops (the list is on our website) and hopefully in more and more shops. From September we are working with The Health Store, our first wholesaler will help us to spread the pasta love shop by shop. We are looking for more wholesalers, delis and farm shops so everyone can get some delicious & nutritious pasta for dinner!
What does the future look like at Nomad Health?
Exciting! Rolling out our pasta range across the UK is our priority. Now we have the capacity to cope with any orders. We are working on our next product range already… something low in sugar, and high in enjoyment. It will remind you of your childhood, the smell of your mum’s kitchen after the fresh cookies came out of the oven. We want to create a low sugar jam which looks like, taste like any “normal” jam, but it is actually good for you!
Nomad Health are absolutely smashing it! We’re excited to see where they’re headed, and their new product range. Be sure to check out their website here.