Compact, colourful & easy peasy! Spice Pots curry pots and kits make it simple to rustle up all sorts of tasty curries. Goan, Korma, Tandoori or Bhuna, all the spices you need are contained and beautifully presented in reusable tins - either stock them seperately or combined in ready-to-go selection boxes. In the gift boxes, Spice Pots have thought of everything, even including a vegan recipe book to make sure that these carefully-curated blends go to great use! We spoke to Melanie at Spice Pots to find out more.
1. How/why and when did you start your business?
I lived in India for a year after I left school. I worked in an orphanage, travelled all over India and met some amazing families who taught me how to make proper Indian food. I was hooked and cooked like this for many years whilst working in London as an Events Manager. However, 15 years later, I found myself in the middle of nowhere in rural Scotland, a long way from the nearest supermarket with 3 boys under 4! At this point, I knew I needed a shortcut to make the curry that I loved as I no longer had the time to dedicate to authentic but very time consuming Indian cooking.
I started to batch blend my favorite spice combinations and adapted recipes to make them quick and simple, without compromising on flavour. It worked so well and for many years, I gave blends and recipes to friends and family. It wasn’t until my kids were a little older that I launched the business in 2014.
I used to blend all the spices myself in my tiny kitchen until it got to the point that I almost didn't want to sell them because I knew how much work it was to restock!!
2. What do you do that sets you apart from other herbs and spices producers?
Our mission is to help our busy customers create easy, tasty, healthy Indian inspired food at home. We eliminate the hassle associated with scratch cooking a curry by providing the fresh and aromatic spices, perfectly blended, as well as a huge range of simple recipes using very basic ingredients. It’s all about the package! We don’t just sell spices - we guide, inform and inspire our customers on how to use our products to make their life easier.
Our key difference, in my mind, is that we sell British curry to British people. Our flavours are authentic but our techniques are not. You wouldn't find many of our recipes in India but we are in the business of appealing to our customers, who largely live in the UK. We focus on lifestyle - I’m a busy person who likes to eat healthy food and therefore I sell the idea of easy, healthy Indian cooking to other busy people. Our products are not only time saving but they also create consistently good flavour. We are constantly coming up with new recipes and this ensures that things always feel fresh and exciting for our customers.
We are also very keen on building excellent relationships with everyone we come into contact with. We pride ourselves on our exceptional customer service and our trusted suppliers are considered part of the team.
3. How did the pandemic affect your business?
Initially, it was a bit tricky! We are an all woman team and at that point, all team members were Mums! So you can imagine that trying to run the business whilst everyone was tearing their hair out trying to homeschool at the same time was challenging. (We actually took it in turns to come to the office to get a break from home!!) However, our challenges were insignificant compared to most so we didn’t complain and just got on with it. I joked that I was going for happy rather than educated children as I basically had to leave them to get on with it themselves!
On the plus side, we reached a huge amount of new customers and thankfully, as we were all set up to sell online, our sales were very good.
4. Do you think the Scottish market is a good place for a small, artisan business?
Yes, there is a wonderful, supportive community of producers, who over the years of attending the same events, we have got to know. We often team up with other Artisan businesses for collaborations on Social Media and we do our very best to 'big up' other Scottish producers as much as we can.
5. What advice would you have for someone starting out as a small business?
Like everyone else, when I started the business I did absolutely everything myself. This is necessary but in hindsight, I wish I had been a bit braver and got help a little earlier!
Don’t be intimidated by ‘business speak’. It’s just jargon and doesn’t make your business successful.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help but at the same time, don’t be afraid to ignore any advice given! You know your business best.
Be prepared to learn and grow. The learning never stops!
Invest in yourself, not just in your business. The person behind the business is the most important factor, so make sure you look after yourself and your mental health. This should be your number one priority as then you can cope with most things the day may throw at you!
6. Apart from Greencity, which other three or more people, living or deceased, would you invite to make a dinner party entertaining?
Freddie Mercury - I love him and his music
Delia Smith - her books taught me to cook and she wouldn't take any nonsense from Freddie or the others!
Limmy - genius comedy and pure Glaswegian
Romesh Ranganathan - he’s just funny
Michelle Obama - warm, inspiring and I bet she’s got some pretty amazing stories to tell