Rate my start-up story: Niamh Hughes, Ernest Foods

Meet Niamh Hughes, founder of Ernest Foods, a startup that wants to bring you superior natural snacks that help you to stay happy and healthy. This is her story of why she started her own business.

(This blog is part of a series to celebrate our event, Virgin StartUp Ignition: business tricks and insight for amazing women. Niamh's blog is one of five published on Virgin StartUp, and the blog with the most views will win the entrepreneurs behind it the opportunity to present their business to our all-star panel at the event. So if you like it, share it!)

"What we eat defines us, and we are beginning to define ourselves differently by embracing real food that gives good health. Why? It changes how you think about every morsel you put into your mouth. It changes what you eat, when you eat and how much you eat. Your goal is no longer JUST to satisfy your cravings or even to be skinny. It is to nourish, energise and bring happiness. 'Life is what happens between meals. And that's all good. If you are going to try, go all the way' - Charles Bukowski.

We could have just started a snack company. But we have a bigger plan. We want to shake things up. Start from scratch. We want you to love the skin you are in. Value your body more than a pair of designer shoes. Because you'll look good in any shoes if you eat well.

Eat in earnest, think about ingredients. Enjoy a well-made soup. Get butterflies in your tummy when figs are in season. Explore new recipes. Discover that some taste amazing, others taste less so. But give it a try. Take a picture and share it. Dip into health food stores to buy superfoods and seeds. Add ingredients or substitutes to make meals healthier. All the while, enjoying a decent brownie from time to time.

The long and short of it is that we want in. We want in so much we have handmade thousands of bars. Killed more kitchen appliances than we care to admit. We've stood on street corners talking to people about what good food means to them. Frozen our toes at farmers markets - week in, week out. We have cut fingers, strained our backs while lugging crates, cried at failures and shouted with joy when our first product sat on a shelf of a local deli. All for the love of good food.

'Human beings do not eat nutrients, they eat food' - Mary Catherine Bateson. We know that no matter how healthy you are, a snack needs to taste good, give energy and be convenient. We created Ernie bars to bring our fresh thinking to the humble snack bar. It’s not about what you leave out, but also what you put in.


They come in four flavours: - Apple Strudel, Banana Bread, Cocoa Truffle and Raspberry & Coconut, made using 100% natural ingredients. Ernie bars are made with whole dried fruits, nuts, seeds and spices. A hit of natural protein from puffed quinoa, and omega 3 and 6 from chia seeds. Every single ingredient does something good for your body. Every. Single. One.

And us? We live in Bristol. We make Ernie bars by hand here in the UK. We work with family and friends. We love wholesome food and ingredients that sing quality. We don't add sugar, syrups or flavourings to our snacks as we think natural food tastes great already. We are Ernest Food Co. Ernest by name, earnest by nature. Find out more at www.ernestfood.co.uk."

Niamh Hughes photo

Virgin StartUp Ignition - business tricks and insight for amazing women - will see the UK's top female entrepreneurs come together to celebrate Women's Entrepreneurship Day. A day of workshops and keynote talks, the aim of this event is to inspire and help more women to start their own businesses. Find out more information and grab a ticket here.