Like all the very best food brands, Morning Glory Granola originally began as a personal passion project motivated by a quest for well-being.
Founder Nina first began experimenting with different breakfast cereals when she was diagnosed with breast cancer (she is now ten years in remission). Despite her wealth of knowledge and experience (she has worked in the hospitality since the age of 15), Nina didn’t really give too much consideration to what she was putting in her body and how it was affecting her. Until her diagnosis. That triggered a journey towards better understanding the relationship between food and health. Discovering how many sugars, fats and additives were consumed just passively in our every day eating led Nina to design her own granola recipes. But she only did it for herself and any friends or family who insisted on getting a fix as well. Then, life just got in the way and her granola ‘fad’ faded into the background.
Until her next health scare.
Eating her way to well-being
Following further testing, Nina discovered she carried the BRCA gene, which meant a predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer (her mum had been diagnosed with the latter). By this point, Nina was now on post breast cancer hormone treatment, which had a dastardly effect on her. She describes it as “feeling like a very old woman”. Severe joint aches and pains, a huge drop in energy levels and, worst of all, irritability. And if there’s one thing Nina loathes, it’s being that grumpy person in the room. She took her health into her own hands, and decided that nutrition would be her medicine.
As part of this journey, she rediscovered her passion for granola.
Setting up shop at Belfast’s St George’s Market
But even at this point, Nina hadn’t made the transition from creating her own granola to creating her own granola business. That said, she wasn’t a stranger to starting new ventures. When she first moved to Ireland (a career in film and television catering brought her here, and she never left), she set up a business selling Murano glass at the St George’s Market.
Behind the scenes she would spend her time baking, often bringing the goods into the market to share with other traders, particularly during winter. It always prompted the same responses, “why are you selling glass when you should be selling the food you cook?!” She eventually listened, and began making and selling hot pies from the market. But her breast cancer diagnosis put an end to that.
Later, in 2017, she founded The Drawing Room in Bangor, a much-loved, tiny cafe punching well above its weight when it came to great coffee and a fabulous home-cooked menu. Ultimately, none of these businesses “worked”. But they each taught her plenty, and it’s that knowledge Nina has poured into Morning Glory Granola.
“I even have a management degree somewhere,” laughs Nina. “It’s just that I forgot to actually use it. I have always been more motivated to help people and share.”
Launching a business during a global pandemic
The turning point came, perhaps surprisingly, during the start of the pandemic.
Nina was, at the time, furloughed from her part-time work. She found herself at home with a paintbrush in hand, much like half the country. By this point, she was already making a tonne of granola for her own enjoyment and experimentation. Those around her kept asking when she would take it from a hobby into something more substantial. It was strange for Nina to think that people wouldn’t just make it themselves.
But, then she likens it to a professional joiner. To them, their craft is straightforward and obvious, but to Nina, it’s amazing. She had to remind herself that cooking and creating with food takes years of knowledge and expertise. It seems simple to her, but when you factor in health, macro and micro nutrients, dietary considerations, hygiene… It becomes complicated. So, there she was in the middle of a nationwide lockdown when she realised, she had to go out and make this happen. She had to stop just thinking about it, and instead start committing to it. Within her first week of production, two outlets were already stocking Morning Glory Granola. The business was up and running.
Morning Glory Granola, Kylestone Nurseries and a wayward email
Paul came across Morning Glory Granola and thought it was a great fit for the Farm Shop, exactly the kind of thing his customers were looking for. He reached out to Nina on social and asked her to send over her pricing. She did so immediately however, unbeknownst to her, she sent it to an incorrect address. Paul never heard from her, so he assumed she didn’t really want to sell to him. Nina never heard back from Paul, so she assumed he didn’t really want her products in the Farm Shop. It was not until Christmas, by which time several customers had enquired about him stocking the granola, that Paul reached out again to Nina. This time, the penny dropped and the two realised what had happened. Morning Glory Granola arrived quickly onto the Farm Shop shelf, and has been an instant huge hit.
Supporting and showcasing beautiful Northern Ireland produce
Like Kylestone Nurseries, Morning Glory Granola is passionate about Ireland, and keen to promote local producers whenever possible. To that end, Nina uses Flahaven’s Organic Jumbo Oats, Neary Nogs Cacao Nibs, Northern Irish Honey when possible, Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil, Donegal Sea Veg, Armagh Apples and Clements Free Range Eggs. There are six different recipes in the range, four of which are vegan (the other two use egg whites and honey).
“You get a lot of satisfaction when you can actively help a community. I love to use local produce and do my bit to help other businesses succeed. So that’s a real joy. I also just love knowing that I am creating food that is truly healthy for people. It’s a great way to start their day, but it doesn’t sacrifice any flavour or fullness. All the granolas are taste sensations, and they all keep you going well into the day,” says Nina.
You can buy Morning Glory Granola from us online now, or visit the Farm Shop in person.