Designed2Eat: Healthy snacks on the right track

Entrepreneur and former elite athlete Charleh Dickinson decided to launch her own business producing healthy and nutritious foods that were allergen free. She caught up with BQ to tell us how she got started with Designed2Eat.

Charleh, 20, is a former elite athlete having medalled at British level in swimming, athletics and modern pentathlon with Wigan BEST.

It was after discovering her many allergies to dairy, gluten, wheat, sugar and caffeine that she became interested in nutrition.

After discovering her allergies, she decided to launch her own business producing allergen free foods, leading to the launch of Designed2Eat.

Designed2Eat is an online food store that sells paleo, vegan, coeliac and diabetics friendly natural cakes which are healthy and nutritious.

She launched the business after successfully selling a number of products through her food blog and saw a gap in the market.

Speaking to BQ, she said: “We sell the UK's first pre-packed paleo cake plus, paleo celebration cake, grain free granola called RAWnola and the UK's first cricket flour high protein all natural energy bars.

“They are suitable for multiple allergies because they are free from; dairy, gluten, wheat, egg, soy, corn, yeast with only naturally occurring sugars.

“Many of the products are packed with superfoods and are perfect to be enjoyed as part of a balance diet.”

With the healthy and allergen-free food market growing at a rapid pace, Charleh is seeing increased demand for her products.

Speaking about her career as an athlete and her need for convenient foods, she said: “When you are competing at a high level, you are constantly on-the-go and I discovered that I was unable to buy healthy, nutritious food conveniently, at an affordable price.

“This was my first drive and when I discovered that there were no paleo snacks, it was this passion to eat, all natural real food which led my ‘Paleo Food Blog’ into developing unique, nutritious treats.”

When starting up the business she sought advice from the businesses co-owner, her father Peter Dickinson.

Peter, a high growth business coach in the North West, has supported over 250 companies over the last 20 years.

Rawnola

He helped Charleh by teaching her the process of business gradually over time whilst providing technical support.

She said: “I also received major support through Sheffield Hallam University. As I study food marketing management, my tutors have been supportive in providing theoretical knowledge which I have been able to apply to the business.

“I was also accepted into the Sheffield Hallam Hatchery which provided me with a free workspace area which I used during my first year at Designed2Eat.

“They have been extremely supportive again with advice in marketing with their business clinics using local companies such as Keep Your Fork as well as promoting Designed2Eat in Sheffield.  

“Furthermore, the Enterprise Team has helped in building useful business connections and relationships.”

Speaking about her biggest challenge so far, she added: “Food packaging and branding has been my biggest challenge.

“Designed2Eat have created a completely unique product and because we have decided to let the company organically grow it has been built on a shoestring budget.

“Food packaging and branding are two very crucial components and very difficult to get right. We are an all natural cake company. We want to promote our health message whilst still being your favourite treat.”

Going forward, Charleh is looking to expand her sales not only across the UK but also across Europe as the company continues to grow.

She said: “We are still in the development stages of branding and new manufacturers but this will mean that we will reach our 10,000 unit sales target by Christmas.

“Furthermore, we are very excited to announce that we will be one of the headline companies at the Free From Allergy Show in London for 2016.

“Finally, after we have had confirmation of our first European wholesaler, I have plans to expand more into other companies.

“In two years times, I would love to see Designed2Eat cake range in the Supermarkets nationwide.”

“Being completely paleo and vegan makes us completely different from all other companies, even free from because there are no other company which are posting all paleo, grain free cakes which are completely nutritious with no ingredients which would prohibit the intake another nutrient.”

BQ will continue to cover Charleh’s story as the business grows.