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A New Flavour. A New van. New Adventures

Events are fewer and further between in January and February which, although financially challenging, actually provided some much-needed respite after the relentless pre-Christmas market-a-thon, not to mention some time to focus on everything else in the business of Salsa Stories!

New wheels

I got a van! I am now the proud owner of a Citroen Berlingo and I love it! It’s perfect and so great not to have to completely empty the car after each trip to my kitchen (it’s the little things…). There’s only one person happier about this than me, and that’s my partner Naz who had to do without wheels whilst I traded in the run-up to Christmas - not ideal with 2 small kids!


Having a supportive partner makes all the difference in this start-up life I can tell you!

New flavour

I, FINALLY, had time to develop a third flavour – wait for it – Tomato Salsa!


(I know – why didn’t I think of that first?!).


It’s undeniably a classic and I’m super excited to be introducing this restaurant-style salsa to my range. It’s beautifully bright, with the sweetness of the tomato balancing with the sharpness of lemon and red wine vinegar, finished with a decent punch of heat… and it is just as banging as you have come to expect from my Chipotle and Coriander & Lime Salsas.


After a couple of months serving it at my local markets, the packaging arrived and it is now available in most of my Bristol retailers and my online shop! Yay!

Markets

I’ve got a few other flavours up my sleeve which I’ll be testing out at markets in the next few months, so if you’re in the neighbourhood come and let me know what you think. See my Market page for upcoming events in Bristol and the South West.

I’ve also changed my set up at markets to make it more appetising. I really liked my old understated display, but I think in the context of a market my new open bowl presentation is a much clearer way of communicating ‘delicious fresh salsa, available here, right now, come and try, you need this in your life!’


Would you agree?


Mentoring

I have started being mentored by Duncan Barraclough of Onlinestars.co.uk. It’s part of the support package offered by Virgin Start-up to the businesses they fund through their start-up loans. I’m so grateful for this. We’ve had a couple of brilliant discussions and I’ve got a to-do list as-long-as my arm to whip my online presence into shape – so watch this space!


Part of this is to have a dedicated space for recipes on the website. I know I always bang on about how versatile these salsas are so I’m going to start sharing some of the ways I love to eat them. You can expect some classic Texmex fare for sure, but I’m interested in showing a broader range of dishes that these salsas can complement, from simple ideas to more extravagant feasts. Coming soon…

The Second Chapter Podcast

In early March, I was a guest on The Second Chapter Podcast where 'serial careerist Kristin Duffy chats with women who started the second (or third... or fifth!) chapter in their careers and lives, after 35'.


It was such a great opportunity to share my story and open up about my former life in the art world, my Dad dying in a thunderstorm and my transition from artist to salsa queen! It's the story behind Salsa Stories.


It was also a lot of fun – we laughed so much Kristin had to edit the laughter out!


The experience of listening back to it was strange but kind of affirming. First I actually make sense which is reassuring - and I’ve got some good ideas! Now I just need to take all of my own advice on board…


I really recommend this podcast - especially if you're thinking of making a career change. It shows it's possible through engaging stories with all kinds of women and the challenges they've overcome. It comes out every Tuesday - which for me is production day, so I listen along while I make your salsas. It should count as an ingredient - it adds a dose of inspiration!


I sent Kristin some of my fresh salsas as a 'thank you for having me' and she posted about it on Instagram – she loved it, of course! As an American, it’s like a slice of home.


Sorry for the third Instagram screenshot in a row, but.... this happened! I was featured on @virginstartups #FounderFridays. It's a weekly spot where they promote some of the brands they've funded in a talk-to-camera piece.


It is strange to be doing things like this and to see myself on camera... but I kind of like it!


EHO Inspection

I finally had my kitchen inspection from environmental health this week and I am over the moon that I am FULLY COMPLIANT! Even though I know my kitchen is immaculate and my record keeping in order (I love a spread sheet) I still had some doubts and nerves about it going wrong! My predisposition is to assume that I must not be doing something right, or have made a huge oversight somewhere! But everything went swimmingly!


In large part I have to credit The Food Works with this as they helped me get up to speed – writing my HACCP plan with me, explaining how to do the record keeping and coming to check things over to advise on areas to improve etc. Plus the unit I’m in is food grade and new so that always helps too.


I love my unit there and the food works team and I’m so grateful for all their input in getting my business off the ground – coming from a different sector, their guidance has been essential.

New beginnings

So it’s especially sad to announce at the end of this blog post that I will be leaving the Food Works at the end of March.


Weston-super-Mare is a good 45 minute drive away without traffic and planning my access to it around childcare has been a logistical nightmare! The units are also very high spec with a price tag to match and with fuel costs rising exponentially this felt like the right time to bring Salsa Stories closer to home and temporarily scale down… before scaling up exponentially when the planets align in the not too distant future!


So I am putting my things into storage and using a friends café kitchen while they’re closed until I find a new HQ in Bristol. So fear not, your salsa service will not be interrupted!


If you hear of any units please give me a shout!



Julie x

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