Start-up Stories: Let Them Eat…
When Lisa Hackett decided to take her own dietary issues in hand, little did she know that it would provide the ingredients for a new Plymouth business. We caught up with Lisa for Start-up Stories and asked her all about it.
Where did it all begin?
I have an auto immune health problem which means that I have had to cut a number of foods out of my diet. In particular wheat and gluten. I also have to be careful with the amount of dairy I eat. I soon found that the supermarket free from section was not only very limited in choice but what you could get was of a very poor quality.
The crunch came on my birthday. Friends came around with a selection of cakes which looked so tempting. The only problem was I couldn’t have any of them. “That’s okay” they said, “we’ve brought you a ‘special cake’ from a well known supermarket.”
That’s when I felt really low, I couldn’t eat normal food. I had to have ‘special foods’. I felt isolated. Worse still, my birthday cake tasted foul. I was so upset to think this was my fate. Isolated and disappointed. Food and eating is such a primal thing. It’s also very emotive for many people. To be deprived of this basic function is torture for those who have to go through it.
Then it dawned on me I can’t be alone. I started to research the problem. I researched alternative baking methods and set out to make good honest food that the whole family could enjoy. We started to have friends around for dinner, who were surprised I was eating the same food as them. When I explained it was the other way around, that they were having the same food as me, the praise and comments were wonderful.
How did Let Them Eat… transform from an idea into a business?
I was chatting with Simon from Tamar Grow Local one day, he was enjoying some of my cake, and he gave me the confidence to try selling my cakes at a local producers fair. I haven’t looked back since. I started really small just doing one small market a month to test the water. It’s been a very steep learning curve. I’ve had to change and adapt to suit the public demand a lot. However my core principles have never changed. This is what I believe in and focused on:
- All fresh produce is purchased in the Tamar Valley and, wherever possible, direct from the producers. So my free range organic eggs come from my neighbour. The honey is from my own apiary. The meat is purchased straight from Trehill Farm, St Dominick.
- All dry goods have been very carefully selected to ensure they are the best quality and there is no risk of cross contamination.
- We only use raw chocolate, which is fair trade. Chocolate in its raw state is actually a rather healthy product. It has no sugar, no dairy, and no e-numbers. It is very rich, so you don’t want to eat lots of it. A small amount is enough and leaves you feeling very satisfied.
- Don’t substitute wheat by packing the cakes full of butter and sugar. We make a number of cakes that are entirely gluten, wheat, dairy and sugar free. We use vegetables in our cakes as much as possible. We even have some cakes that have enough veg in them to be one of your five a day!
What is next for your business?
This year I decided to raise my game and take this business more seriously. It’s gone from being a hobby I do once or twice a month, to a full-time operation. We have built a new production kitchen, which has never had any wheat or gluten over the threshold. We also sell wholesale and have a number of stores stocking our produce from The Eden Project, right the way up to The West Country Deli in Brixham. Lots of stores stock our products in Plymouth including River Cottage and Langage Farm Shop. The National Marine Aquarium have taken their first trial stock too.
What started as a cake business has now grown into a business that provides a wide range of sweet and savoury goods. So now we can “Let Them Eat Pie”, “Let Them Eat Pudding”, “Let Them Eat Pasties” …etc etc, so we are rebranding from “Let Them Eat Cake” to simply “Let Them Eat…”
Tell us about the food events you are organising yourself?
I have also put my background in event management to good use, and have set up a new monthly producers fair in conjunction with Tamar Grow Local at Mount Edgcumbe on the second Sunday of the month, 10am till 4pm. This market focuses on really local food, straight from the Tamar Valley. We will also be highlighting the historic link between Cotehele and Mount Edgcumbe Estates. Tide and time permitting we will be shipping market produce down river in Shamrock the beautiful sail boat moored at Cotehele, just like they would have done in time gone by when the Tamar Valley was the garden of England.
You can find out more about Let Them Eat… on their website or on twitter (@LTECCornwall).
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