An entrepreneur is using her cooking skills to keep the money coming in after being hit by the credit crunch.
After her husband was made redundant, Sarah Giles turned to her skills in the kitchen to help with family finances.
The new firm she has launched – the Cotswold Chutney Company – uses local produce grown in the Vale of Evesham, and cooked in her own kitchen in the village near Stratford-on-Avon where she lives.
And she is now rapidly expanding her list of outlets which range from farm shops to fine food markets.
Mrs Giles said: “Living here in the Vale of Evesham I know a lot of local growers, so I can always count on a good supply of fresh produce which form the basis of my recipes and, once they’ve tasted my chutney, customers invariably come back for more.
“It’s all made by hand in small batches and that’s the way I want to keep it. You really can tell the difference between my chutney and the mass produced stuff on sale in supermarkets.
“After Robert was made redundant I tried for six months to get a job. I worked as a PA before having my children but, at the age of 53, it seems nobody wanted me back in the workplace.
“I started to think about what other skills I had and the obvious one is cooking – I basically came from a family of cooks. Both my mother and my grandmother before her were renowned for their baking and preserving.”
Mrs Giles was helped with marketing and business planning by Business Link in the West Midlands.
One of her first outlets was her local WI market where her 8oz pots of Tomato and Garlic; Lemon and Mustard Seed; Hot Tomato; Date and Orange and Date and Walnut chutneys went down a storm at £2.50 per pot. Now she’s targeting farm shops and fine food outlets.
She supplies The Farm Shop at Lower Clopton, The Cotswold Cheese Shop in Moreton in Marsh and Drinkwater’s shop in Chipping Campden and is in the process of expanding her list of outlets.
She admitted: “I know how to make it and I know it’s a first-class product. I had no problems getting clearance from my local environmental health office to use my kitchen to produce it, but I did worry about finding enough customers.
Business Link in the West Midlands has launched a credit crunch hotline and workshops to help provide Coventry and Warwickshire companies with quick and easy access to high quality information and advice. Call 0845 002 0900.