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Creative Nature

Delicious without doubt.

Creative Nature CEO and founder, Julianne Ponan MBE, is one of 2 million food allergy sufferers in the UK.

As a sufferer of anaphylaxis to all nuts, some seeds and certain additives, having a full understanding of what was in the food she ate was not only a matter of personal preference, it could be a matter of life and death.

Having spent years carefully studying allergen information before deciding what to buy, Julianne had become frustrated with the current options available on the “free from” market. 

To make matters worse, even when she was able to find products she wanted to eat, she often found that sneaky “may contains” and other alibi allergen statements meant she could not be certain that the product was safe.

Realising there was a gap in the market for delicious, allergen-free superfoods that could be enjoyed with confidence, Julianne set out to create a brand that provided her fellow allergy sufferers with just that.

Creative nature products

A brand with purpose

“Every entrepreneur has a purpose” says Julianne. “Mine was to create something that truly makes a difference in people’s lives”.

Allergies are rising globally, particularly to food and particularly among children.

However, as Julianne experienced first-hand, “living with allergies in our society is not easy”.

“People like me can feel isolated, excluded and humiliated when we need to ensure that what we eat or drink is safe for us - and that can include what others eat or drink around us” she explained. “I seek to change that and to encourage a more inclusive and empathetic attitude”.

Humble beginnings

When Julianne bought Creative Nature as part of a management buyout over ten years ago, it sold candles, incense and oils. It also had debts of more than £56,000.

Over the following 18 months, she transformed the company into a superfood brand and gradually brought it back into profit.

Julianne Ponan

Every entrepreneur has this moment when they jump of that cliff and build a plane on the way down. That was the moment where I thought we’ve got to make this work.”

Julianne Ponan MBE

Founder & CEO, Creative Nature

Scaling the business

During the first two years, Creative Nature’s products were mainly sold to wholesalers who would then distribute them to health food stores. In addition, sales were made at food and consumer shows, direct to independent health stores and D2C online.

With the brand’s popularity rising, Julianne knew it was time to take the business to the next level. “We wanted to scale up” she said, “and the next stage for me was going on Dragons Den”. I felt that even if we didn’t get the money, it would be a fantastic PR opportunity and could get our brand in front of so many people.”

Despite receiving an offer from the Dragons, Julianne decided to turn the investment down. “It was a really tough decision” she said. “The valuation was just not right for the business at that point. That was a big step for me in my personal journey, as well as my business journey.”

Creative nature free from

Route to retail

Her decision was especially brave considering that, at the time, Creative Nature was still a small two-person operation that was entirely self-funded. However, while the business may have been small, it had big ambitions.

“I really wanted to get the product into the supermarkets” Julianne explained. “We also wanted to expand the team, boost our marketing, and help our cashflow and working capital. Some of our raw materials and ingredients from Peru, New Zealand and Hawaii took two months to come to us via sea freight and that can be a challenge”, she said.

One of the first major hurdles she encountered was failing to raise the necessary funds via crowdsourcing. Undeterred, she and her team took their “last bit of marketing budget” to that the Natural & Organic Products Europe show, one of the industry’s leading events.

There she was able to secure listings with Ocado and Tesco which she then used to leverage listings with other leading retailers including Sainsburys, Asda, Wholefoods, TK Maxx, Amazon and more, before setting her sites on oversees growth.

“We have always wanted to take creative nature global” Julianne explained. “That has been my vision since we first started.” Today Creative Nature is enjoyed by loyal customers all over the world, boasting sales in over 16 countries including Singapore, Germany, Australia, USA and the UAE.

Julianne Ponan

Our first interaction with GS1 was understanding what barcodes we actually had. I didn’t know what I needed or how I was supposed to put barcodes on pack. GS1 UK gave me all that information and I was able to get barcodes on my products within minutes.”

Julianne Ponan MBE

Founder & CEO, Creative Nature

Joining GS1 UK

Julianne benefitted from becoming a GS1 UK member early in her business journey.

GS1 barcodes have not only provided a solid foundation for her business, they have also helped Julianne provider her customers with the transparency they need to stay informed and protected.

“Creative Nature stand for being top 14 allergen free” she said. “So when we put that product on shelf, I need to guarantee to that customer that it truly is top 14 free.”

Man scanning QR code

“How do I do this – through a barcode. For example, having a QR code linked to a specific barcode enables consumers to scan the pack to get all the allergen information they need. Having that information on pack so anyone can scan it is priceless because it guarantees their safety.

“I need to make sure that every single one of my products is safe” she continued”. “In the event of recalls, if consumers can scan a QR code on the back of pack, they will know immediately the product is unsafe and can return it to the store.

“I think this is really beneficial for other brands who don’t batch test their products as they can have that safety net so that no one has to suffer.”

When you get your barcodes from GS1 UK you join a community

More than 58,000 businesses have started their journey with GS1 UK and our globally recognised barcodes and Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs). When you join you’ll also have access to a variety of tools, expertise, and support to help you as your business grows.