January 11, 2016

Meet Danielle Copperman – model, blogger, nutritionist and founder of Qnola, the sugar-free, dairy-free and grain-free alternative to granola. Having modeled on campaigns for Vogue and Aveda, Danielle started to pay closer attention to her eating habits, consequently redefining what was good for her body, both inside and out. Qnola launched less than a year ago, but the range of 8 flavours has already seen astonishing success, being stocked in 44 London stores with new products on the horizon this year. We stopped by Danielle’s studio (which she shares with the lovely Hardihood) to chat about her food ethos and weekend treats.

UO: First of all, can you tell us the concept behind Qnola?

I set up Qnola in response to the lack of genuinely healthy breakfast products available. As a model, I was always running out the door, and with unstructured days I could never plan my meals, so breakfast was always an important part of my morning routine. Most days I ate granola, foolishly thinking it was healthy. However, after studying nutrition and researching food, I discovered it was even higher in sugar than some dessert foods! I wanted to create something low in sugar, using only natural, ‘real’ ingredients that were gluten free and filled with cleansing, body-loving ingredients. I developed the full range using pure, natural flavourings with deep cleansing and purifying properties, to ensure they could work on a cellular level, enriching and grounding the body and positively driving its processes.

UO: What is your most indulgent breakfast recipe?

For me, something like a huge breakfast spread of pancakes with loads of toppings is how I like to indulge in the mornings – usually on weekends when I have more time to whip something up. I’ll make a smoothie or juice, a chicory and medicinal mushroom latte or a coconut milk coffee and make simple buckwheat or oat pancakes with a mixture of avocado chocolate spread, chia seed berry jam, fresh fruit, stewed cinnamon apples and sliced banana.

UO: What’s been the highlight of your Qnola adventure so far?

There have been hundreds. Each day is a highlight in its own way because waking up and working on something you love and create yourself is such a privilege. There have been too many highlights to pick out just one, but a few include Ellie Goulding and Dougie Poynter sharing a bowl for breakfast, catering events for Vogue, Lyst and sponsoring events throughout London Fashion Week. Also being featured in so many amazing publications has given me the support and encouragement that’s gotten Qnola to where it is today.

UO: Where do you want to take Qnola in 2016?

This year we are focussing on launching a few new products which we’re really excited about. We want to continue to create new, innovative and unique products which haven’t been created yet and which can bring a lot to the health food scene. We feel we have a lot to contribute in terms of helping healthy living become as accessible and educational as possible. We will be focussing on easy, effortless, on-the-go breakfast snacks. We have a few larger products in the pipeline too which we hope to launch mid 2016 to 2017. Other than that, we are still concentrating on growing the brand in the UK, and exporting across Europe.

UO: What flavours do you want to add to your collection?

We are constantly adding new flavours to the collection and releasing limited edition products online. Our current offering is The Winter Ones – vanilla chai and chocolate orange – which have been inspired by seasonal winter flavours and festive favourites. We will re-release out summer berries flavour around May or June, and are working on some other new flavours with slightly different base ingredients – which we hope to retail more affordably. We are also working on an entirely sugar free (not even natural sweeteners will be used) product, and one using a more nourishing method of sweetening will provide even bigger health benefits than the Agave contained in our current products.

UO: What’s the creative process for new Qnola recipes?

There isn’t one really. I generally work with flavours of the moment that I’m using a lot, and consider other ingredients I know and love and whether they can work well together. I then develop a recipe and play around with combinations before deciding a suitable name for the flavour, and a colour to reflect it for the packaging. We then work on serving suggestions and how to market the new flavour, what it works well with in terms of how to prepare it and then we produce the products en masse and start working on visuals and marketing etc.

UO: What inspires you?

At the moment what inspires me most is the interest that is finally being sparked around eating and living well. Last year, there was still so much taboo about living a healthy life, and people would mock you for turning down a slice of cake or getting up before work to go to the gym. But we have come such a long way since then and it seems almost everyone is caught up in the excitement of both eating and living well. This inspires me to continue developing healthy products to meet the demand of consumers who want to live well but who don’t necessarily have the time or knowledge to be able to do so efficiently. I also get inspired when I am travelling the world – by flavours, combinations and ingredients.

UO: What is your favourite way to spend a lazy Sunday?

I’d wake up slowly, but not too late, with one of my best friends who’s stayed over the night before. I’ll make a hot drink for us to enjoy in bed and put on some chilled music. Then we’d make a big breakfast and get ready slowly and plan something to do depending on the weather, unless we’ve already made plans. If it’s dry, we’d go for a long walk and have a late lunch or an early dinner, and if it’s miserable weather we’d find an exhibition or a gallery to go to. I’d end the day with a meditation, gong bath, yoga or pilates class, and either see more friends or family for dinner or go home to work for a few hours so I’m ready for the week, before having a bath or giving myself a facial treatment. It sounds stupid but if I’m busy during the week I find it hard to make time to really pamper myself and so Sunday night usually consists of intensively spoiling my body.