Homemade chutney business

by Sian Merrylees on Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Old job: School science-lab technician.
New biz:
Runs Cotswold Chutney, a chutney-producing company.
Start-up costs:
£200 from a savings account that my father then matched.
Projected earnings:
I’m hoping to start making a profit within the first 18 months.
Rate your risk:
Medium to high. The challenge is getting people to
taste my chutney, but once they do, I’m confident they’ll love it.

We moved because of my husband’s work, but I couldn’t find a job. Then someone suggested I start my own business. Although it might not seem an ideal time, if you don’t have a go, you won’t know. I’ve always loved cooking and when I realised there wasn’t a local chutney company, I decided to start my own. The Job Centre runs a government-funded business advice service and they put me in touch with a consultant who talked me through a business plan. I used most of my start-up fund to buy initial ingredients and jars.

I work from my kitchen, which I had checked to meet health and safety standards, and I make the chutney in large batches following my grandmother’s recipes. I contacted The Trading Standards Agency to check the labels, which I do on the computer with help from my daughters. Unknown to me the agency sent a jar of the Easter Carrot and Almond chutney to a lab to be tested. I only use fresh, locally produced ingredients, so it came back with glowing reports.

We produce nine variations, which sell in five different farm shops. Lemon & Mustard seed is very popular but Garlic is my favourite. At the moment we are just breaking even but I’m confident we’ll grow because once someone tastes it, they’re hooked. We might not be making a profit yet but one day you’ll see my jars on the shelves in Harrods or Fortnum & Mason.

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