An entrepreneur who has received business advice and support from East Lothian Council is celebrating after securing agreements with national retailers.
Customers of Spice Pots are can for a limited period purchase its dry spiced blends from more than 1,000 Aldi stores across the UK and Ireland.
The company, set up by Melanie Auld in 2014, has also struck an agreement to supply its range to Weight Watchers.
Each blend of spice is 100 per cent natural, vegan-friendly and designed to make the cooking of curry easier.
As a cooking enthusiast with limited time to source all the difference spices from scratch and prepare meals for her young family, Melanie decided to make her own spice blends which she then started to share with friends. It then evolved into a business idea.
“Business has really picked up particularly in the last year,” explains Melanie, who lives in Gullane. “Although we’ve experienced challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, including in the supply chain, we’ve seen online sales skyrocket with more people looking to cook at home.
“We were given the opportunity to supply Aldi stores in Scotland. After meeting very strict sales targets, they’ve agreed to expand our products across the UK and Ireland.
“We’ve really upped our game in terms of production and got the systems we need in place. We’re really excited to be launching with Weight Watchers. They will buy stock from us and sell it on their website.”
Melanie says that the support she has received from East Lothian Council’s Economic Development team and Business Gateway has been invaluable and that anyone looking to set up their own business should get in touch.
“My business adviser Fiona has been immensely helpful from day one,” says Melanie, who has since opened a base for Spice Pots in Haddington. “I’ve been given help and advice in the areas where I am not so strong. I’ve been given support on functions such as cash flow, packaging, forecasting and assistance in finding grants.
“I’ve received marketing support and doors have been opened for me to attend events such as the Royal Highland Show as well as trade fairs further afield.
“I also received an interest free loan from East Lothian Investments Ltd (ELI) which was really helpful.”
Spice Pots is now on sale in more than 400 stockists across the UK and Ireland, whilst Melanie has secured international listings in Germany and has achieved a best-selling product on Amazon marketplace.
Melanie is proud of her small team – she has been very keen to offer flexible employment opportunities based around family life.
“My team are all mums who have been able to get back into work. Removing barriers to work has been a real focus and we’ve built up a small but fantastic team.”
Melanie, who is a member of East Lothian Food and Drink, “Scotland’s Food and Drink County https://www.scotlandsfooddrinkcounty.com/, is keen to see Spice Pots develop further.
“I’m really keen to grow online and wholesale and perhaps secure a supermarket contract.”
Councillor John McMillan, Cabinet Spokesperson for Economic Development and Tourism, has extended his congratulations.
“Melanie’s story is inspirational,” he says. “What started out as a means of cooking from her family kitchen has grown into a successful business.
“We’re thrilled to see local start-up companies such as Spice Pots get off the ground and go from strength to strength, particularly in such a challenging business environment.
“I’m very pleased that the support provided by our Economic Development team, East Lothian Food and Drink and ELI Ltd has made a real difference in a number of different ways, from providing practical and strategic advice, hands-on support through to sign-posting Melanie to other sources of help.
“Online shopping is getting bigger and bigger and local companies have been able to use this as an opportunity to sell products both within East Lothian and further afield.
“Entrepreneurs such as Melanie, with ideas and vision, can play a big role in driving East Lothian’s economic recovery.
“I’d encourage anyone with an idea for a business to get in touch with our team – they could help you turn your dream into a reality.”