Case study

Nutrition and retreat business launches with University support

Nutrition and Retreat is a new venture for Zaremba Marsden Ltd — a small business based in Matlock. Since July 2020, the company has been able to unlock a huge range of funded support to help it launch the new Nutrition and Retreat brand, and build a solid foundation for its success.

A new venture

Stuart Marsden and Marta Zaremba-Marsden are the husband and wife team behind Zaremba Marsden Ltd. The firm originally focused on operations management, but due to the Covid pandemic and their own personal aspirations, they decided to diversify the business in 2020.

They set about opening a different kind of B&B — a serene retreat where people can get away from the fast pace and distractions of everyday life — as well as offering personalised nutrition and wellbeing programmes and workshops.

Marta, who was re-training to be a nutritionist at the time, first found out that support might be available to them, during a webinar delivered by another nutritionist. From there, she did her own research and found out about D2N2 and East Midlands Chamber. She explains: “It just snowballed. We found a network that supports small and medium enterprises, we found training available to us, free of charge...and then we got put in touch with the University of Derby."

Support with business strategy

Marta and Stuart took advantage of funded support offered to them through the Derbyshire Accelerator programme. In May 2022, they initially completed the Promoting Sustainable Performance (PSP) business health-check tool, designed to help SMEs grow quicker, work better, and perform more competitively. This has been developed by Professor Mark Gilman, an accredited business coach and consultant specialising in SME performance and growth.

After getting the results from this diagnostic tool, Marta and Stuart decided to meet Mark for eight, one-to-one business strategy sessions. These started with a focus on defining the vision, values, and objectives for their new Nutrition and Retreat business, and in later sessions, moved on to developing a business growth plan.

"It's been an absolute pleasure to work with Mark," says Stuart. "His advice and networking has been invaluable. He's so very good at listening and extremely organised and so he helps draw out your vision and strategy. It’s like counselling for your business!"

Marta added: "He’s also really good at challenging you and he's made us braver and more ambitious, for example, about our aims for turnover. Plus, the sessions keep you on track with the action plan and he holds you accountable."

Support with sustainability

Nutrition and Retreat was also given a free, one-year subscription to the Zellar platform through Derbyshire Accelerator. Zellar helps businesses understand and reduce their energy usage and carbon emissions, as well as identifying the business benefits of doing so. 

Marta and Stuart set out to create a sustainable business from the offset, and had already taken steps to reduce waste and carbon emissions. Using Zellar, they were able to identify 22 actions they had taken to improve the sustainability of their business — including using LED lighting, a Hive heating system, growing their own fruit and vegetables and keeping chickens, and buying local, organic food wherever possible. More recently, they have bought an electric car (which they use to pick-up guests) and fitted a charging point, which guests can also use. 

"Zellar has been useful because we can log what we're doing and it gives you a score and benchmarks you against other businesses," says Marta. "It also suggests other actions you can take to improve your performance."

Chickens roaming around a plot

Making the most of what's on offer

Marta and Stuart have drawn on support from across the region, to accelerate the development of their Nutrition and Retreat business. They have attended many free webinars and training sessions provided by East Midlands Chamber, the University of Derby, D2N2 Growth Hub, and other partners. They also benefitted from kickstart funding to employ a young person to take on their marketing.

"We’re just amazed by the level of support in this country for entrepreneurs who want to launch their own business," says Marta. "The level of professionalism and the level of support is just immense and…we've met an awful lot of fantastic people, fellow business people as well." She adds:

"It has certainly sped up the process of launching this business — what we planned to launch in the first five years, happened in the first six months.”

The pair intend to continue making the most of these funded opportunities, and are hoping to employ a University of Derby intern through the DRIVEN programme next.

A promising future

All the support has had a positive effect on the business — the retreat was fully booked from April to October 2022, and Marta is now focusing on the nutrition workshops during the winter months. She has also been asked by a local magazine, Derby Uncovered, to write a regular article on nutrition, and hopes to use her expertise to benefit the University's Mental Health and Productivity Pilot

Watch an interview with Marta and Stuart

Watch the interview with Marta Zaremba-Marsden and Stuart Marsden

View Business support for Nutrition and Retreat video transcript

About Derbyshire Accelerator

Derbyshire Accelerator was one strand of the East Midlands Accelerator Programme. East Midlands Chamber led the programme, with other partners in Derbyshire including our University, Derbyshire County Council, Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire and The Food and Drink Forum. The project was part-funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund.

Derbyshire Accelerator has now closed but you can explore our other funded support programmes for businesses.