A conscious conversation — with Simply Granola
I am always thankful for projects that evolve into more than just a working relationship — like this one.
I tasted the humble beginning's of Nicola's crunchy goodness for first time when I was doing a styling job and it saved my roaring tummy in the form of a very satisfying snack. The next time we met, was when this baking beauty arrived on my doorstep — granola in hand, with the task to give her story and baked goods a branded identity and visual language.
More than a year later already and it remains one of my favorite projects ( this is also due to the fact that constant Oh my Cocoa! snacking was part of the process ).
Nicola has become a dear friend and fellow small business owner — one I learn from daily. I can attest to the 'produced with heart, delivered with care' line that accompanies each order as I have seen many takes of precision, attention, consideration, love and relentless resolve that goes into every batch.
She is also one of the most generous people I know — and if you read this conversation mindfully, you'll be gifted a whole lot of golden nuggets of truth and wisdom along the way without even realizing it.
Tell us about Simply Granola and how it started?
The founding of Simply Granola was never centered around the conscious decision to bake and sell granola. I have always baked what is known today as The Classic, and over time I added additional flavours to the collection. In 2016 a friend tasted the granola and from there I started baking for friends and family. There was an immediate interest in a healthy, conscious-ingredient product and I really enjoyed the product as a starting point for a conversation around conscious eating. Over time the desire to give the product an identity was born and late 2016 Simply Granola was launched with the help of She Is Visual.
What do you love most about what you do?
I really enjoy every aspect of my business — from baking, to the business of business, to figuring out how to grow this party, to running social media. I think what I love most is how much I learn from every aspect of this business.
What is your biggest challenges as a small business owner?
Figuring out how to grow my business without losing myself in the process. To maintain the fine balance between current limitations and yet pushing those boundaries for the sake of expansion.
What is your biggest victory yet for Simply Granola?
Deciding to commit all my time and energy to her.
You just left your 8-5 job, what does that mean for Simply Granola?
Time. To tackle the year-long to-do list that accumulated. To take stock of where I am and where we are going. Time also means I get to test waters I was unable to previously play in. As much as time generally result in me steamrolling through an endless list of things I tell myself needs doing, time also means I get to slow down. To think, to contemplate, to consciously move in new directions.
How do you find balance between work and your personal life?
Presently I guess I kind of suck at this as it feels like I need to make up for a lot of lost time. The past year working and having Simply Granola, my husband and I agreed that there will basically not be a balance until I pursue Simply Granola full time. Now I try to stick to a work day that is centered around the time my husband is at work, so that when he gets home it’s my cue to close the door on my day. Balance between the two worlds does not just involve me, it also involves Dries, so I find that we actually navigate this balance together.
You are known to be the queen of systems and keeping organized - any advice for fellow small business owners?
To me being organised has two starting points — firstly, the information that you as a business owner would like to have, see and understand and secondly, finding the most efficient way of going about business so that you can focus on doing what you do best. My best advice? If you’re not good at being organised, find someone that can help you get organised, implement some systems and educate you on how to manage and understand your finances. Read David Allen’s book Getting Things Done. Use free tools like Trello for task management and Wave for managing your accounting. Never think that the money in your bank account is an indication of the wealth of your business and most importantly, don’t neglect the business of your business. Loving what we do is a privilege — making sure our passion is a sustainable source of reliant income that can grow and provide for us, is a necessity.
Where do you find advice / mentoring for growing Simply Granola as a business?
I’m privileged to be surrounded by so many fellow business women (and men) that are a constant source of inspiration, advice and guidance. I firmly believe that we all have paid ‘school fees’ along our various ways and that we should, as far as possible, try and save others from incurring the same cost if it’s to be helped at all.
Being a creative female, how important is wellbeing as a women for you?
Very. If I am not okay with who I am or how life is rolling at the moment, every area of my life is affected by it. I know that I have a responsibility to make sure that all is good and well with me first, so that I can serve and give to those around me.
What is your ideal morning ritual?
Waking up with the sun with no alarm telling me that the say is starting. Drinking coffee in bed with Dries and then getting ready to go train — in whatever shape size and form. After exercise and a solid breakfast I’m ready to settle down for the day.
Do you have specific things you practice as a means to wellness as a women?
To me wellness starts at listening to my body. Its gentle nudges and silent screams to slow down, nourish more, move less (or more). To practise listening is the best thing I can do for myself to ensure wellness as a woman.
What does self-care mean to you as a women and how Do you make that part of your daILY life?
Self-care to me comes in various forms — it is making time to exercise, to give myself a break from what’s going on and making sure I move - whether hard and fast or sometimes slowly. It’s forcing myself to slow down enough during the day to prepare a nourishing plate of food and enjoy it slowly. Self care also means looking after my body/skin and its appearance (however vain that my sound) - so I religiously make time for my daily and weekly skincare regimes. Self care to me is also more than physical care, but also mental and emotional care, this to me means making sure I have enough quiet time, that I remain challenged and stimulated from an educational point of view and ensuring that I spend enough time with Dries, making sure that time together and intimacy is not the last thing on the list of every day.
Do you think your wellness has a direct influence on your business?
100% — Insert burnt almonds, ruined batches and oats everywhere. I once blew an entire mixture of hot coconut oil and honey all over my entire kitchen and left a 25kg honey container with the tap open because I was trying to keep going when everything inside of me was telling me to stop. More so than making really stupid (and costly) mistakes - you cannot create, give or communicate when all is not well within yourself.
When do you feel like you are at your best?
When I am helping or serving others.
Do you have any female mentors / muses and how do they inspire / mentor you?
My mother — she is a relentless force of giving and serving.
Marize from She Is Visual — who reminds and inspires me to take it slower, to listen and be courageous in our pursuit of being a woman that is well first, and then being whoever the world needs us to be.
Anneri, from Basque Imagery, who makes a full plate look like a joke and never hesitates to make herself available for those she cares for.
What is your long term vision for Simply Granola?
Right now, I’m taking stock of this long term vision — growth is at the forefront of my thoughts, but my heart is telling me that there is more in store. So right now I’m riding the wave of waiting and listening to see which direction this little oats filled boat must float.
We all know that self-love as women is hard for us - what part of your womanhood do you celebrate the easiest?
The extent to which my intellect is an instrument to serving others.
If you find yourself on a stage in front of a crowd of women - what would you say to them as motivation to be the best version of themselves?
Be relentless in your pursuit of knowing who you are. To be okay with the woman you are and is becoming. To celebrate the good and to keep on working on the bad. Read John Ortberg’s book, The Me I Want to Be. Once you know and love yourself, life becomes so much easier to navigate and enjoy.
If you can give the 13 year old version of yourself a piece of advice / wisdom that you know today - what would that be?
That life really shouldn’t be taken too seriously all of the time. I was extremely focused on my academic performance through primary school all the way to varsity. And I realised that although I developed a great deal of discipline and perseverance, I missed out on many adventures along the way. Theoretical knowledge will only take you that far — and then life will teach you the rest. I wish I knew (or would have believed myself then) that a perfect score on every test is really not the be all and end all of it all.
My favorite way of movement is
quite honestly, any kind of movement. Mountain biking however leaves me in awe of God’s creation and I will forever treasure the many kilometers ridden alongside my father.
My favorite season is
summer because endless summer sun makes me insatiably happy.
all the time because I’m hungry 99% of the day.
The first thing I do when I wake up is
open our bedroom doors for fresh air and make coffee. (If I make the coffee I don’t have to make the bed - #winning)
The last thing I do before I go to bed is
try and convince my husband to warm my arctic toes. (It’s an ongoing battle.)
My guilty pleasure is
sweeping my plate clean with my finger. (The best bits are always left behind)
Coffee / tea
Early bird / night owl
I get my energy from solitude / people
My favorite meal right now is
roasted cauliflower with a homemade tahini dip
My favorite Simply Granola flavor is
mornings — The Classic
snack — Oh My Cocoa!
weekends — Peanut Butter Lover.
Our Conscious Conversations is a way of sharing real stories and honest insights into products, people and places we admire and feel we can all learn from. Sharing is caring — and this is a series where we express our care in sharing.