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Published 6th March 2020
What do you do? We bake a wide range of gorgeously gooey rich chocolate brownies and white chocolate blondies. We have two stores in Newcastle Upon Tyne, a busy events programme, an online store and supply direct to wholesale. We started baking our brownies back in 2010 when we noticed a gap in the market after the heavily saturated cup-cake craze. Brownies always looked dry and boring and we wanted to change that. Sarah is a trained pastry chef so her experience in the kitchens developed the recipes we have today.
How did it start? We started at small weekly and one-off markets and events to test out the market and introduce new flavours. We soon realised how popular the treats were so started to look for bigger events such as the BBC Good Food show. Over time this built up to our dream of opening our own store which we opened in 2013, and it’s still going strong today.
What have been the high points? Opening our stores were definitely high points for us, and previously being stocked in Fenwicks and Selfridges, seeing our products amongst the shelves of so many other great brands.
Any low points? There are many low points of owning your own business but we wouldn't change it. Cash flow can often be a challenge, as can finding the right team, and the long unsociable hours. We both have small children now so managing time with the business and with family can often be a struggle.
How do you choose your brownie flavours? We test out many flavours in the bakery, and we get together as a team to taste and develop. We usually agree on them and launch in the shops for customer feedback. It’s a good test for us if something will sell, to then roll out online, at events or wholesale. Our best seller is usually our salted caramel brownie. The gooey texture and rich chocolate salty flavours go together perfectly.
Which is your favourite product and why? My favourite is the peppermint brownie. I just love mint and chocolate and the layers and combinations are so perfect together. Sarah’s favourite is the peanut butter brownie bomb – its unique and the perfect combination of salty peanuts, gooey chocolate brownie and crisp Belgian chocolate.
What do you/ the business do? We source the best unusual herbs and spices going. The majority of the year we source, grow and sell unusual herbs and spices. You will see us at Food and Garden show events up and down the UK. Our stall is a feast for the senses we love selling unusual herb plants such as Strawberry Mint or Blackcurrant Sage that just smell amazing. The key to our business is that we are not just growers and gardeners. We are foodies. We love experimenting with new and interesting flavours so chefs enjoy visiting our stand as much as gardeners.
When did it start? I started in 2010. It was a short-term venture designed to pay off my tuition fees. I was studying for a Masters Degree in history back then. The business certainly paid off the tuition fees and it evolved into a full-time job that now employs me full time and several others including my mum on a part-time basis. I was working part-time on a wholesale plant nursery and learned how my gardening hobby could be turned into a productive micro nursery. As a student, I got a kick from growing flavours and saving myself money. I wanted to introduce others to this amazing growing lifestyle.
What have been the high points? There have been quite a few high points. At the start of the journey, we measured our highlights in purely financial milestones. As those passed, we began to appreciate that the real milestones were much more meaningful. You are not competing with everyone around you. The high points are the moments when you realise that you and other small businesses are developing a real co-operative family. The fellowship and comradery are amazing.
Any low points? I can’t lie. This is a really hard job. Really hard. During the season we are clocking 90 hour weeks. You have to call in favours from everyone that you know. But the fellowship and comradery that exists with other producers help you through it. By and large the low points during a rainy setup day are usually cancelled out by dealing with lovely customers the next day.
What makes what you do so special/unique? We are both growers and foodies. We love our product so much. I think that excitement comes across. It is fantastic to be able to source and grow such unusual flavours. Last year, for example, we grew a huge amount of Carolina Reaper Chilli pods which were grown on in Birmingham.
What does featuring at the BBC Good Food Show mean to you? And what impact does it have on the business? Our presence at the BBC Good Food Show is massively important to us. Honestly – it’s a huge privilege to trade at such a prestigious event alongside well-known trusted brands. The visitors to BBC Good Food Shows are very discerning and appreciate how special our product is. That makes us really happy. We structure our year around a few massive events and BBC Good Food Show is one of them. We continue to develop and expand each year we are there.
What do you/ the business do? Two Farmers is the UK's first sustainable crisp brand offering a delicious range of hand-cooked crisps inspired by Herefordshire flavours. Sustainably made and packaged so that consumers can crunch with a conscience.
How did it start? About 3 ½ years ago, we were having a pint – and a packet of crisps – and came up with the idea of making crisps with our own potatoes which would be cooked on the farm, packaged sustainably and made using local Herefordshire flavours. Bringing the brand to the market was the ultimate aim, but it took us three years to solve our packaging conundrum. We looked at boxes and tins before the fully compostable crisp packet materialised. We now have the perfect solution – our packets are made of sustainably-grown eucalyptus wood fibres with vegetable ink printing, and will fully biodegrade in your home compost in under 26 weeks. A similar time frame applies when the packets meet seawater. When we set out with these ideas in 2015, we had no idea that plastic usage would become such a hot topic. We are now ahead of our competitors and have a smaller carbon footprint as a result. We also have an on-farm anaerobic digester fuelled by farm waste, crops and potato scraps from the peeling plant. This produces electricity which is used in the factory and plant, and we hope to use this to power our delivery vehicles as the brand grows.
What have been the high points? I think the response we got on launch was amazing, we had so much press, radio and TV interest, with plastic waste particularly around crisp packets such a hot topic. It was a great opportunity to let consumers know that there is a plastic-free alternative to the nation's favourite snack!
Any low points? No, we are having a thoroughly amazing time and are excited for what is to come!
What makes what you do so special/unique? We have successfully produced the UK's first compostable crisp packet that biodegrades in just 26 weeks and we produce our crisps sustainably using local ingredients, using our own power and keeping food miles low.
What does being a winner of the BBC Good Food Show Bursary and featuring at the show mean to you? We have been overwhelmed by the response to our new venture and benefiting from the bursary at such an early stage in the business has given us the confidence that all of our efforts over the last three years have been worth it! The chance to showcase our products at the show was brilliant and we received so much useful advice and feedback as well as listing opportunities!
Can you tell me more about your best-selling flavour - why do people love it so much? Lightly salted, it's a classic and ours uses locally sourced Droitwich salt which we think is extra flavoursome!