ABOUT THE COMPANY
Proper Oats was set up by former accountant and body builder Suzanne Ferreira, from York, because of her love of porridge!
Suzanne started the company after her management accountancy contract with a government agency was cut short due to Covid-19 restrictions.
She says her passion for porridge may be due to her Scottish roots; her grandpa John used to like his porridge with salt on, or it may have come from her love of Ready Brek as a child. As a champion body-builder Suzanne eats a lot of oats.
“I just love porridge; I could eat it all day long, especially when I am competing in competitions,” says Suzanne, who lives in Strensall.
“But I couldn’t find anything that was ready to eat and not full of sugar, so I started experimenting with different recipes in my kitchen.”
Suzanne started using Skyr yoghurt bought from her local shop as part of the recipe, and pretty soon teamed up with the yoghurt manufacturer who is based in the Yorkshire Dales.
The resulting product is ready-to-eat overnight oats soaked in Skyr yoghurt and blended with fruit. The pots are currently available in two flavours; apple, cinnamon and sultana, and strawberry and blackcurrant.
The business was very much a cottage industry, with Suzanne working on all aspects, and even her 13 year old daughter Mayha helping with the design for the packaging.
Suzanne came to AD:VENTURE because she wanted support with developing the brand, marketing and scaling up the manufacture once the orders increase.
She also wanted someone to bounce ideas off and put her in touch with other experts.
“I’m so proud to be from Yorkshire. With our strong roots, I believe the Proper Oats Company can be a national – and even an international – brand,” says Suzanne.
Within weeks of starting to manufacture, as well as selling through the website, the pots are available through a wholesaler in Thirsk and at the Sourced Market outlet at the new Leeds Skelton Lakes motorway service area. Suzanne is also in discussions with other retail and online outlets, including a major online retailer, and is looking at the possibility of exporting.
Suzanne was accepted on to the Accelerate programme, a six-month acceleration programme for ambitious businesses based in the Leeds City Region, which is part of AD:VENTURE. The Accelerate programme is a series of masterclasses and one-to-one support and covers topics like marketing, sales and finance.
She was introduced to an intern from the University of York who is working with her to increase her social media presence and help to recruit influencers.
And all the time, she has had one to one support from AD:VENTURE business adviser Alice Ingram, who has helped with everything from market research to putting her in touch with manufacturing specialists.
“Alice has just been amazing. I do not know how I would be able to do it without her,” says Suzanne.
“It can be a lonely place starting a business, but I was not really alone because of Alice, who acted as a sounding board. And you need help with some kind of direction, or you will run off in ten different directions.
“When people think of business support they think of funding, but the expert advice you get is invaluable. They have specialist knowledge in different areas, which would be hard to access if you don’t have the funds to pay for it.”