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Catching up with the founder who quit a solid 25 year job and started a business

Q&A  with Darryl Owen the founder of No Evil Nutrition

Tell us a bit about your background and how you started out in your career – have you always worked in the food industry?

Darryl Owen, Founder, No Evil Nutrition

I haven’t, no, this is a complete change for me. I worked in IT for almost 25 years in marketing and sales, but I’ve always had an interest in health and fitness. As I got older, I realised just how important it is to look after our health, and how easy it is to not prioritise this when life is hectic. I also wanted a bit of a career change, so I decided to combine the two and create a nutrition brand. 

It’s been a huge learning curve as I’ve gone from a career entirely in the business-to-business sector, to creating a consumer brand. I’ve also had to learn a lot around the benefits of the products, health & safety, hygiene, and the regulation side of food. Of course, I’m still learning! 

Where did the idea for No Evil Nutrition come from? Did you have a ‘lightbulb moment’?

It was more an evolution of an idea over time. It started with launching a protein powder as I used these myself in smoothies in the morning, but I was dubious of some of the ingredients as they had weird names that weren’t understandable. I assumed they were safe, but I just didn’t know what they did or why they were there, and as a general philosophy I like to understand what I’m putting into my body.

From that idea the brand was born, my goal was to make supplements that were of the highest quality, whilst being as natural and understandable as possible. That’s where the idea for the name came from – No Evil Nutrition – that and our logo became a fun way of summarising what we stand for. 

Based on customer feedback, I then launched superfood supplements, including a functional mushroom blend and a greens blend. There was a real interest in those from customers, the mushroom blend in particular, so we’ll continue to pursue this superfood route more moving forwards as my feel is there is a real demand for it.

What makes No Evil Nutrition unique?

From a product standpoint – quality is key. We’ve tried to create the cleanest products in the market, so our whole range is certified organic, free from allergens and pesticides and batch tested for heavy metals.

The CSR side of the business is unique and really demonstrates what we’re about – we give 2% of every sale to health-related charities. We do this because we want to help as many people as possible live happy, health lives, but wellness is holistic thing. Whilst we can help with nutrition and physical fitness, mental health and circumstances play a huge part – that’s where our charity partners help people. We’ve done this from the outset and it’s really important to us.

We’re also doing our very best to reduce the environmental impact of the business. We’ve been certified carbon neutral and the next range of products we launch will come in home compostable packaging. I’d love to get us to a position where being in business is having a net positive effect on the planet.

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Why did you decide to go into the vegan market?

I didn’t set out to create a vegan brand as such, it was more to do with promoting cleaner living and a simpler approach to ingredients – this naturally lends itself to being plant-based. There is so much research out there on the health, sustainability and environmental benefits of shifting to be more plant-based, so I’m excited to be able to help people pursue this through No Evil Nutrition. Don’t get me wrong, I want to do this without being divisive so I’m not dictating to everybody that they should be vegan, but as a society we eat too much meat and don’t get the benefits of that plant-based lifestyle.

Has the process of being certified organic hindered your progress in getting the business up and running?

Surprisingly not at all! I thought that going down the organic route might make it really difficult but actually, OF&G in particular who I work with to get organic certified offer a lot of help and guidance, so it’s actually being a real plus as it’s accelerated progress and pushed us to start with high standards.

You started the business in March 2020, the same month the first lockdown was announced – Has the pandemic affected your business and your plans? If so, how did you overcome any hurdles? 

Launching No Evil Nutrition through the pandemic and getting it to where it’s got to with the backdrop of what was going on in the world was very challenging. Things were still possible, but they just took a lot longer. Tasks like developing products, getting that first organic certification, these things took time, but we got there. I guess patience was the key to overcoming those hurdles.  There were positives though, in that I was travelling and commuting less so I had more time to focus on the business – it was definitely a lockdown baby!

What can we expect from the No Evil Nutrition brand moving forwards? Is there anything exciting currently in the pipeline?  

The No Evil Nutrition range will expand to include more Superfoods very soon, amazing supplements like spirulina, maca and matcha. We’ve got our mushroom coffee in advance stages.

Longer term, I’d like to take the philosophy of introducing health foods into everyday foods, so for example through snacking or other ways of getting nutrient rich ingredients into your everyday routine. It is really important to me to try to help our customers to do this.

Why do you think there is such a big trend in not just healthy snacks, protein powders and supplements but those made with organic ingredients?

There is more of an awareness than ever now on how food is produced, and the food industry as a whole is under more scrutiny. I think people realise that in many cases, the food we eat has been developed for profit and making money has been the primary driver. I get the importance of that, every business needs profit to survive, but the health value of the products out there hasn’t always been the primary concern and people are waking up to that. Social media clearly has accelerated that, information is just so much easier to get out in the public domain. 

With regards the interest in ‘Organic’, again education is key there. People under this is much more than a marketing term; it’s a method for food production which is better for you and for the planet. A lot of this awareness has come from the states, organic over there is even more important than it is in Europe as the regulations on food production are different and not as stringent. I think that has really helped to drive awareness and we are now latching on more seriously in the UK.

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