Orla’s Origins, owned by Orla Ross, specialises in nutrient dense, gluten and lactose free sweet treats.
She started her cake business in 2018 due to a lack of healthy alternatives for people who like to eat puddings and pies.
Orla is also gluten, lactose intolerant and noticed a gap in the market for people who like to eat sweet treats but because of their intolerances.
Orla already baked gluten and lactose free treats at home and shared them with family and friends but she wanted to expand her clientele base.
In order for her to do this, Orla needed to turn her hobby of baking into a viable business but she lacked the knowledge and experience to do so.
As Orla had never set up a food company before, she needed upskilling in all areas of food production and new product development.
Through the InnovateUs programme, Stella Graham, NWRC Foodovation Manager, provided 30 hours of one to one mentoring support to Orla.
Together they looked at recipe standardisation, recipe production on a larger scale, product labelling and production efficiencies.
With support from Stella, Orla was able to produce more than 40 food boxes for the Christmas market which included; 4 salted caramel choc chip balls, 4 orange millionaires and 2 bounty cheesecakes.
As well as securing sales with the Christmas market, Orla also secured listings with a local restaurant, hairdressers, airport shuttle service and health food shop to display her Christmas boxes.
She also plans to produce seasonal boxes for Valentines Day, Easter and Summer, all of which will include different flavoured variants.
Testimonial from Orla discussing the benefits of working with the NWRC’S Foodovation Centre and InnovateUs programme: ‘’The college helped me greatly in bringing my product to market and providing support and guidance in terms of developing it.
‘’ I would use the College again for future work. Although I have no definite projects at the moment, I am interested in the Invest Northern Ireland Innovation Voucher and have registered for the ‘Go for It’ programme.
‘’The InnovateUs programme has also been really helpful in taking me through the product development process and gave me an insight into what is involved when taking my product from my home kitchen to a catering kitchen and the various legal requirements for some of the key claims I wish to make on my products.
‘’I believe the programme was good value for money, it helped me turn a health need into a business and enabled me take the next step with my concept.’’