Rachel Nolan left the corporate world to set up her own business making healthy ice cream alternatives. She tells Aoife Drew how she turned her dream into a reality.
The catalyst? Losing my father in 2008 made me realise just how precious and short life is. He was always someone who encouraged me to pursue my passions. I was determined after that not to waste any more time and to follow my dream and see where it would lead.
Greatest challenge? Balance. It sounds clichéd, but when you own your own business, you have to give it 100 per cent, especially in the early years. It’s very hard not to let it take over and still maintain a balance – something I haven’t yet mastered.
Surprises? Mondays are not to be feared! When I worked in a 9 to 5, I used to dread Mondays, so much so that I ruined my entire Sunday anticipating them. It’s an amazing feeling to never wish the week away or live for the weekend.
Who, or what, inspires you? My husband, on a daily basis. We’re lucky we work so well together. I can’t imagine sharing a business with anyone else, and I take inspiration daily from his drive, ambition and watching him work.
Successes? We were delighted to recently have our Frozen Goodness awarded Top 50 Foods in the UK & Ireland in the Great Taste awards 2014 out of 10,000 products. We worked so hard to ensure our ice cream alternative was not only made from the purest ingredients and dairy-free, but also that it delivered on the taste and indulgence you’d expect from traditional ice cream, so this was a really nice validation to receive.
What are the qualities you need when starting your own business? It’s essential to have a real passion for what you are doing and a clear vision of where you want to go with it; it’s what keeps you going through the hard times and makes it all worthwhile.
Best career advice you ever received? We’ve had a magnet on our fridge for years that says, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” – I often come back to that when facing a big decision or in need of inspiration to be fearless.
Most career-defining moment?
I was working in New York in what I thought would have been my dream job, but felt stressed, unfulfilled and slightly disillusioned with the 9 to 5 corporate world. My now husband and I decided to take a leap of faith and move to Italy for a few months to follow a dream we had always had of working in a restaurant in the Italian countryside. After that, I knew I would never be able to go back to a corporate job and was sure I wanted to start a food business.
Does your professional wardrobe differ much from your off-duty one? It depends on what’s on the calendar for the day. If we have meetings and presentations, I prefer to look smart and will wear heels and a dress. When doing tastings and deliveries, I’m all about comfort.
Any advice for your fellow businesswoman? Trust your instincts! In my experience, women are usually very perceptive and get a good gut feeling on things. I’ve found it’s important not to dismiss that. Also, learn to prioritise and delegate – there will never be enough hours in the day, so it’s essential to be able to hone in on the most important tasks and allow others to help.
Nobó Frozen Goodness is available from health and independent food stores, and select SuperValu stores, nobo.ie.