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Entrepreneur's food allergy was catalyst for the sweet taste of business success
DEALING with her own food allergy inspired an entrepreneur to create a range of health food bars.
Steph Croft-Simon, 25, was so busy some days she did not have time to stop for a proper meal.
The former Headington School and D’Overbroeck’s College pupil said: “I have an intolerance to dairy products, so have to be careful what I eat.
“I kept trying to come up with ideas for healthy, handy things I could munch on the go but most contained dairy products or were loaded with sugar.”
It took a year to perfect the recipe for the nom bar, which is dairy free, organic, has no refined sugar and uses ethically-sourced ingredients.
Now, just eight weeks after she and co-founder Justin Ralley, 24, launched the range of three bars, they are selling 4,500 a month.
Ms Croft-Simon was teaching sociology at D’Overbroeck’s and Mr Ralley, who attended the Oratory School in Woodcote, worked in the IT industry. Both have now quit their jobs to concentrate on the business.
Ms Croft-Simon said: “The bars are oat-based and contain cacao nibs and coconut oil, which is what allows us to leave out the dairy.
“When we gave them to family and friends to try, they loved them, so we sent samples to retailers and got positive reactions.
“Leaving our jobs to concentrate on building the business was a leap of faith.”
The bars, which sell for £1.49, come in three varieties: original, banana and cocao and raspberry.
At first, they went on sale through Planet Organic’s five London shops and website in July, but are now stocked in several outlets in Oxfordshire and across the UK.
These include Figs health foods in Wantage, Eggs Eggsetera in Botley Road, Summertown online health store Evolution Organics and South Moreton Boxing Club.
The friends, who share a house in Headington, make, pack and label about 500 bars a day, but plan to outsource manufacturing soon. From their offices at Boundary business centre, Garsington, they are working on a recipe for a granola bar.
“The food world is going mad for coconut products,” Ms Croft-Simon said.
“We are speaking to Holland and Barrett, Ocado and a health and fitness club chain, but I wouldn’t want to jump the gun.”
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