A kitchen sink concoction designed to eradicate a swarm of flies has led to a dressage rider launching an international business, as Rural Affairs Reporter Sarah Probert discovers...
It was a simple recipe. Helen Dolisznyj brewed up a selection of herbs in an attempt to ward off the flies buzzing around her horse.
From the kitchen of her home in Penkridge, Staffordshire, the dressage rider was keen to concoct a herbal remedy which would soothe her horses and repel insects during the vital stages of competing.
Her mixture not only kept the flies away but led Ms Dolisznyj into a rather unusual business venture.
"When I was competing I was in a tree-lined environment and all the flies would come out and bother the horse." she said.
"This was costing me valuable marks so I decided to come up with a concoction to stop them. It worked and the horse was no longer bothered by flies.
"People started asking me why my horse wasn't bothered by flies but I thought no more about it.
"It used to be a standing joke at events and people would ask what I was using and I told them it was something I had made myself. I started making it for other people and it just spiralled from there."
The product became so popular that Ms Dolisznyj had to stop making her remedy in saucepans in her kitchen and move her production to bigger premises. She converted several stables in order to expand.
But as the contracts flew in from across the world, and she began exporting to markets such as Japan, Poland, Malta, Switzerland and Dubai, Ms Dolisznyj had to find herself even bigger premises.
Her company - Fly Away Limited - now has an annual turnover of £400,000 and has moved to premises on the Caliber Industrial Park at Four Ashes, near Wolverhampton.
The repellent spray has become a top-selling brand in the equine industry and Ms Dolisznyj has become managing director of her own company.
" We started selling to wholesalers and did some exhibitions at the NEC where we picked up some contracts," she said. "It takes a lot of hard work and determination to keep pushing and now we have moved to bigger premises we have to work harder to pay the bills."
The 47-year-old, who now employs three full-time staff and two part-time workers, moved to the business park after receiving a Selective Finance for Investment grant of £68,000 and specialist advice from Advantage West Midlands.
She said: "Determination, never taking no for an answer, and loyal support from staff and customers are the key reasons why Fly Away has been transformed from a cottage industry into the company it is today.
"We are investing in new machinery to improve production capacity and the new building will add much-needed storage and production space." Established in 1992, Fly Away now manufactures a range of herbal-based repellents for horses together with grooming products for the UK market.
With the help of a Diversification Grant in 2002 from Business Link Staffordshire, the company was able to carry out research and development into other possible product lines.
Marie Greer, director for Staffordshire at AWM, said: "A key role at the agency is to develop a diverse and dynamic business base in the region - and this company is a shining example of commitment and drive.
"The size of the company does not reflect the professional image and high regard they have in the industry. This grant will enable them to grow by increasing production and breaking into new markets."