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Inspirational Female Founder Spotlight: Camilla Barnard

Camilla Barnard, is the Co-Founder of Rude Health, pioneers in natural, great tasting food and drink.  On a mission to make healthy choices a celebration and not a sacrifice, they offer an unrivalled range of dairy-free drinks, along with cereals and snacks, all made with the quality ingredients and brimming with flavour.

Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?

I grew up loving food and travel; studied Japanese, lived in Japan, then met my now ex-husband Nick in a restaurant. His interests were aeroplanes and food, so it seems like fate that we set up a food business together.

How did the idea come to you for the company?

It was, and still is, all about making healthy food appealing. Our aim is to make healthy eating a celebration, not a sacrifice. So we started with muesli, the healthiest of health foods, and set about making The Ultimate Muesli – with 24 different and delicious ingredients – at our kitchen table. 18 years later we still have the kitchen table and now make muesli, porridge granola and light cereals as well as a huge range of dairy free drinks.

How did you achieve awareness?

Very slowly.  It’s taken 18 years to get where we are now.  Twitter, and then Instagram were fantastic in their early years, and we supplemented conversations there with real life Rude Health Rants which were like a foodies speakers’ corner, at Abergavenny Food Festival.  We were lucky to have Nigella Lawson as an early supporter, who recommended us to stores and featured Ultimate Muesli in a bread recipe. We’ve also made the most of living in rude health by celebrating outdoor swimming, and bog snorkelling! And right now, we’ve taken the essence of being in rude health and created a campaign that sums up its meaning with the message “Drink Life to the Full”.

How have you been able to gain funding and grow?

We started the business with £4000. That bought us ingredients, tubs, labels and aprons, so we could sample our muesli.  Two years later we raised about £180,000 from friends and family. That’s it.

What are the key successes?

With hindsight launching our Almond, Oat and Coconut milks in 2013 was a turning point for the business. They were an overnight success.  After seven years of hard work. 10 years later Almond Drink is still our best-seller, closely followed by Coconut Drink and Oat Drink.  We’ve also managed to create Barista versions that don’t split in coffee, without adding a long list of dodgy ingredients – years of work and no mean feat.

What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?

The crash of 2008 and subsequent few years of depression were seriously tough. Not many of our fellow businesses came through that. We survived and thrived thanks to having a ruthlessly tight hold on our cash.

Nowadays we are the only remaining independent alternative milk business in the UK, so we’re up against some big businesses with deep pockets. We make use of our personal relationships, and ability to innovate and move quickly to succeed.

What are your plans now/for the future?

Now we have created a range of dairy free milks that we are proud of and that our customers love as much as we do, the goal is to make them available in as many places as possible, and make sure that everyone who might like them, knows about them.  Hence the campaign about drinking life to the full, and our milks appearing in supermarkets, shops and cafes that you may not have seen them in before.

What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?

Don’t worry about not knowing what you’re doing or not having all the skills, just keep learning and surround yourself with people who have the skills you don’t.  As a founder, your strength is probably the vision and drive to make it happen and see it through.

Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?

Prepare for a marathon. I started off at sprint speed, and that’s a recipe for meltdown as it always takes longer than you think to build a business and get the team around you that will allow you to step back a bit.

Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?

Isabelle Legeron – Raw Wine.  She converted me to natural wine and I’ve never looked back

David Bowie – did what he wanted, brilliantly

Matt Chattfield – the Cornwall Project, doing really interesting regenerative farming.

Marie Lenclos – artist. The brick queen. And endlessly patient. When I buy my dream house I’d like Marie to paint it.

Donna Lancaster – Elder in training – my go to for wisdom and guidance and fun.

What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?

Whilst being wary of toxic positivity I do like, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” Henry Ford

 What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?  

Instagram: @rudehealth

Facebook: Rude Health

Linkedin: Rude Health

URL: rudehealth.com/