Univ Dates: 2005-2009
Degree: BA Psychology
Degree Level: Undergraduate
Occupation: Owner of The Wild Oven and Co-Founder of Gutology
Biography: After graduating from Oxford, Danielle returned to her family farm on a mission to champion British produce. The Wild Oven’s 50 seasonal staff now feeds wood-fired food to over 10,000 people every year from their converted Land Rovers and VW vans. In 2018 she went on to co-found Gutology, a project which empowers individuals with their gut health through online content and gut testing. The Gutology Podcast is now the top gut health podcast in the UK and fulfilling a mission to make functional medicine more accessible globally. While at Univ, Danielle also captained and rowed in the women’s First Eight.
Why did you apply to Univ?
The friendliness, wanting to be in the centre of Oxford and being impressed by the boathouse.
How did your time at Univ contribute to who you are now?
It gave me a strong sense of self-belief. For all of us it is a case of what do you want to do, not what you can do.
What led you to start your own business?
My attitude to business is to create something which reflects my values. The core reason for starting the business was to go into work and be myself, not have to put a mask of professionality on. A desire to empower myself and others, a sense of discovery, integrity, a need for connection with people and my surroundings, and, of course, balance.
In tangible terms it came down to growing up as a farmer’s daughter. This left me with the belief that the British farming industry is best placed competing on quality not quantity, along with the desire to support it. At the end of my MBA in Food and Agriculture, I went on holiday to Italy and walked into this square where there was a wood-fired oven in the centre. It was that classic eureka moment. This was a way to bring theatre and romance to people through food. I have a vivid recollection of being sat at the kitchen table and pressing buy on the oven, which was the moment of no return for me.
What have been the challenges/rewards you have experienced so far?
Each day brings challenges and rewards. The biggest challenge has been measuring success beyond the books, but that’s also where the greatest rewards have come. The solution to any problem is always out there, it is about finding it.
A major challenge was when James, my partner, with whom I started the business, passed away in a car accident three years ago. That was both a personal and professional challenge. There was a moment where I asked myself, “Do I stop and go travel the world?” It was an email from someone asking about whether we could cater their event, saying it would make their day, that convinced me to carry on because it was a way to bring joy into people’s lives.
What do you think the importance of the Young Univ Gallery project is?
It’s a concrete way for past and present members to gain inspiration for the path less travelled, beyond the structured career paths. Each of us has the capacity for having a great impact, making sure that that’s in the direction you want is one of the most daunting and exciting things!