My name is Denis and I am 32 year old business owner from Dublin. I’m half German but have spent my whole life in Ireland with the exception of a few years working in Germany. My company is called Nufields and we specialise in sprouting and microgreen products. I am a trained chef and former national botanic gardens horticulture student and have also worked as a freelance web and graphic designer. These skills and interests all came crashing together to help me found my business which is an ecommerce store specialising in edible homegrown plants!
What inspired you to join the natural health sector?
Whilst working as a chef I came across these amazing little plants, commonly used a as garnish, called microgreens. I soon realised they were incredibly easy to grow and there were hundreds of varieties that could all be grown from a windowsill at home. Once I learnt of the incredible health benefits these little plants had to offer us, I became obsessed and quickly devoted my life to growing and helping others grow sprouts and microgreens at home.
Where did you get the idea for your brand?
Nufields originally began as an indoor vertical farm in my house. I invested all my savings into shelving, LED lighting, seeds and growing medium and began supplying organic microgreens to local restaurants. Nufields as a name came from the idea that if we think outside the box and adopt a more localised approach and attitude to where our food comes from, we can rely less on a global agri-food system that is responsible for 16.5 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. However Covid quickly put an end to my little farm when restaurants had to close their doors. I started putting together kits for people to grow their own food at home during lockdown and things began escalating quickly! We quickly grew from a bedroom operation to an internationally trading and award winning ecommerce company in 2 and a half short years.
What makes your brand unique?
We teach people how to grow using professional yet simple methods that simply work. Our 5 star rating from our customers is testament to the effectiveness of our style of growing. You really don’t need green fingers to grow an abundance of food at home. We stock over 50 varieties of seeds including mixes of seeds that are unique to us and developed with the advice and assistance of nutritionists. We focus on helping people grow food no matter where they live. No garden? No problem. Not enough sunshine on your windowsill? Not an issue. We have ways for you to grow food even if you happen to live in a cave for some reason and we believe that it’s really important to teach alternative ways of looking at food production rather than endless fields of monoculture.
What are your company’s core values?
1. Commitment to our customers
We would be nothing without our customers and as a small business, every order makes us incredibly happy and grateful. In return for the trust our customers place in us, we ensure that they are successful when they grow using our products and always put their long term satisfaction over short term profit
2. Constant learning and improvement
As a small business we are always learning and looking for ways to improve our products and the experience we bring to our customers. We are never shy to put our hands up and accept if something is not working or can be improved and we believe this attitude has helped grow quickly.
3. Teamwork and communication
We are a diverse group of people with completely different interests and life experiences. We share an important trait though in that we love what we do and truly believe we are bringing value to our customers' lives. Like all businesses we have a form of hierarchy with varying levels of responsibility but at the end of the day everyone is on an equal playing field and everyone packs orders, everyone fills seed packets, everyone grows food in our little office farm and everyone brings out the recycling! Except for cleaning the toilets, that's Eoins job (just kidding).
What has been the most rewarding part of your brands journey?
We were awarded third place in the National Startup Awards 2021 which was a huge achievement and rewarding experience for us. We also came second in the DCCI Business Design Challenge 2020 which was a big confidence booster for us.
What in your opinion makes Irish brands unique?
Irish brands are held to an exceptionally high standard. Irish consumers demand high quality products and exceptional service and if you can’t offer both of these things, you are destined to fail. As an internationally trading company, Ireland projects an image of being lush, green and is seen as an exporter of premium quality products. This has stood to us as we compete on the international market.
What is your favourite product from your brand?
My favourite product is our Elevation Station. I am slightly biased as it is a product I designed myself and brought to market. It is a shelf that attaches to the glass for your window using powerful suction cups which then allows you to place a tray of microgreens literally anywhere you have glass. This means that even if you are short of space, you can grow vertically up your window and keep your microgreens exactly where they want to be - in the sunshine!
Tell us about something that has shaped your brand?
As a company founded at the beginning of Covid, we have been met with challenge after challenge right from the beginning. From Brexit cutting off a huge chunk of our business for several months, to supply chain issues, staffing shortages and sickness and everything in between we have not had an easy run of it! These challenges were incredibly tough and we came painfully close to shutting down on more than one occasion. However we persevered, pulled together as a team and made huge sacrifices to keep the business running and thankfully these hurdles have made us stronger, more resilient and able to adapt quickly and efficiently to problems that may arise.
What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
I see Nufields being a leading European and even global supplier of sprouting seed and products for home growers. Our health is our most valuable asset and there will always be a demand for clean, healthy and sustainable food. The best way to ensure that this is what you are eating is to grow it yourself. When you consider that nearly 70% of the world's population will be living in urban areas by 2050, we are hopefully well placed to play our part in the homegrown revolution!