Marietta Hickman was working in Germany at the start of the pandemic and found herself overseeing the logistics of transporting millions of masks across the globe. So how has she ended up making 100% vegan granola in Fakenham, Norfolk? Here she explains all
I am still young but have been fortunate enough to have visited a lot of countries already because of my parents love of travelling. I have lived in India for four years with my family, and I have only recently moved back to the UK after working in Germany the last two years. Spending that time abroad not only opened my eyes to many different cultures and cuisines but it also made me really appreciate how special the UK is, and it was because I was missing those nostalgic British desserts that inspired the flavours of Cheeky Nibble.
I was working in Germany during the pandemic in business development for a global cosmetics manufacturer headquartered there. I had to adapt quite a lot in my work as my company adapted their factories in China and in Germany to manufacture Medical Grade Face Masks, and I was put in charge of overseeing the production, sales and the logistics of transporting millions of masks across the globe at a time when shipping was virtually at a standstill. It was a steep learning curve but an incredible opportunity and really encouraged me to creatively problem solve.
Having worked in Germany and experienced lockdown, where I was completely alone for months in a studio apartment, I really began to miss home and knew I wanted to move back to the UK. When I moved back home, I started coming up with the idea for Cheeky Nibble because I could not find the type of granola I wanted in the UK so thought why not make it myself?! I have always wanted to own my own business and having saved enough money from my job I decided instead of looking for work in the UK to take the plunge and self-fund Cheeky Nibble.
I source my ingredients as much as possible within the UK. Only the dried strawberries, dried cherries and dried bananas are grown outside the UK, but I still buy these through a UK based business. I have all my packaging made in Suffolk, so I try to support British business as much as possible!
As a society we are mass consumers and buy far more than we need most of the time. Bringing a new product to market, and essentially adding to this consumerism I could not, in good conscience, make a product that was not as sustainable as possible. That is why we are vegan, source ingredients locally (where possible) and I am proud to say that there is no food waste in the production of Cheeky Nibble. Furthermore, our packaging is completely compostable, with even our clear inner bag and sticker sealer for the boxes being made from plants. The production of our boxes is also carbon balanced with the World Lands Trust, and we have recently partnered with the initiative Too Good To Go to add educational labels to our boxes to help reduce food waste. In this way we hope to have as little environmental impact as possible.
It was amazing and completely unexpected to be named Kettle Foods Business Mentoring Prize Winner 2021! As a young business owner, the opportunity to receive their guidance and mentoring is incredible, and it was also a huge confidence boost that a brand like Kettle Foods could see that Cheeky Nibble has potential as a food business!
I am currently hoping to scale up production so that I can take more retail opportunities and hopefully make Cheeky Nibble more accessible across the UK. Long term, I have lots of new flavours and other product ideas I would love to bring to life!