From banking to healthy snacks – the story behind Manna Eating
Vanessa Austin walked away from a lucrative career in investment banking to launch a business that feeds the soul.
Uncomfortable with the ethics of her former role, she followed her passion for fitness and flavour and launched Manna Eating – creating healthy, nutritious snacks that keep people going for longer.
She explained: “I had always longed to be creative. I have a really good palette and originally my idea when I left banking was to run wine tastings. I worked for a boutique wine company for a while and travelled loads but when the financial crash happened in 2008 the wine market was a disaster.
“I looked to my own lifestyle for business ideas – I had always been a grazer and would snack on the way to work or the gym and I’d always been frustrated about a lack of suitable snacks.”
Vanessa, 55, set about creating a range of nutritious snacks – fine tuning each recipe to replace refined sugar with healthier sweeteners such as dates and to integrate ingredients such as buckwheat, spelt, coconut oil and wholegrain flour.
Products include Fig and Carob Muffins, Maca Energy Nut Balls, Zesty Hemp Oat Bars, Banana & Blueberry Muffins and much more. They’re handmade with love in Vanessa’s kitchen at home and sold online and from a stunning unit on the Greenwich Peninsula, where they also have a Coffee Bike and serve amazing coffee. Local Buyers Club members save 15% online.
She added: “The trainers at the gym I work out in have been my guineapigs – as I refine each recipe, they’re the ones who try my products and give me feedback so I can get it just right.”
Manna is an anagram of the first letters Mother Nature, Abundant, Nourish and Authentic and the branding reflects the company’s sustainable ethos. Vanessa’s grown-up children help with the social media side of things and with some of the marketing.
For Vanessa, who is a keen golfer and goes to the gym regularly, running her own business is way to pursue her passions but that can often mean lots of late nights baking.
She’s in talks with manufactures about scaling up her most popular snacks for wider retail and is determined to retain their integrity.
She added: “I love what I do – it’s stressful in that it’s exhausting but that’s because if I want to keep fit and play golf, I have to find time to make batches. But I’ve loved the career change – to be able to switch and pivot and learn – I’m learning so much and am grateful for every day. I’m in awe of the technology and how it allows me to be really creative.
“I had a great career in banking and travelled a great deal but it was full of huge egos, very stressful and I felt I failed my soul. I was happy the day I walked out and have never looked back!”
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