In case you haven’t been following the Millennial Minds series (Welcome!) this is a place to be inspired and motivated by, as well as learn from, our peers. Peers who were born into a difficult job market, crippling student debt and shaky economic conditions, and who have continued to dominate in spite of it. Business owners, product designers, artists, and above all, entrepreneurs, the Millennial Minds series shares the stores of 18-to 32-year-olds who have followed their dreams and succeeded.
Among them is Nicole Cogan, founder of NOBREAD — initially a restaurant guide that grew into a comprehensive community and resource for all things gluten-free.
Nicole was working in Equity Sales for JP Morgan. The job provided her the opportunity to chow down at some of NYC’s best restaurants, but her food allergies made her weary of what she could eat. She began making a list for herself and quickly realized she had created a valuable resource for people with a host of food allergies.
She chatted with chefs and restaurateurs in the area and realized that people in the food and beverage industry were eager to be involved with her idea. Nicole started the @NOBREAD Instagram and her following grew by the thousands on a quick and consistent basis — as of the time of this publication she has reached 77.3 thousand. It became apparent to her that what started as a side interest had the potential to be a booming business!
Today, Nicole has built a bicoastal gluten-free empire, and her website and social channels help g-free foodies know where to go and what to eat in NYC and LA (with plans for expansion of course). Though NOBREAD grows each and every day, Nicole is very grounded and directive with the future of her brand. She sees it in every city, as the concept translates across the globe. She has her sights set on Chicago and San Francisco for now, but maintains an international approach.
In true millennial style, social media is the basis by which Nicole developed her idea into a career, but she is realistic about the fact that the changing nature of those platforms means a constant need for progress.
“I am SO thankful for social media; it truly helped grow my business. It is, however, becoming increasingly saturated and competitive, so you can’t rely on the digital world. You have to have a concept and brand that resonates with people, regardless of what platform they follow you on,” Nicole said.
NOBREAD is much more than a food Instagram. It breaks down the barriers and social stigma associated with being gluten free.
“I do more than just take pictures of gluten-free options at restaurants. A large part of my brand is collaborating with other brands and restaurants to create their gluten-free content! In doing that, I’ve become a spokesperson and a go-to for all-things gluten free!” Nicole said.
The @NoBREAD Insta is flooded with mouth-watering cupcakes, burgers and waffles alike. This plays an important role in showing people that a gluten free lifestyle does not compromise taste or favorite foods.
Like any driven millennial entrepreneur, Nicole believes that doing what you love is the most important key to success. She notes that the ups and downs of owning your own business are much more varied and extreme than they can be in an office job. Your business is your career, hobby and life, making its success a much more personal experience. Nicole advises being harder on yourself than a boss would be in setting and achieving goals.
“Do what makes YOU happy. If you love something enough, and are passionate enough about it, you will make it work!”
As she continues to do the same for NOBREAD, it is truly the place to follow along for both entrepreneurial inspiration, and really delicious food.
If you or someone you know would like to be featured in this series, please send an e-mail to [email protected]