Clippy McKenna started food brand Clippy’s Limited in 2008 and now expects her jellies, chutneys and relishes to give her a turnover of £500,000 this year.
How did you get the idea?
I did a thesis at university about food and when I finished wanted to open my own tearoom. I worked inhouse at Harvey Nichols to see whether I would like working in the food environment. Eventually I decided to combine my love of food with a product that’s a bit different to everything else.
When people start businesses they often come up with a brand new concept but I wanted to take an existing product and give it some innovation, by invigorating sleepy categories like jam, marmalade, and chutney for the tastes of today and tomorrow.
How was it financed?
We’re self-funded with no loans. When my dad died we sold his house and split some money between me and my siblings. I have put about £50,000 in total into the business, but I started with about £2,000 which was spent on preserving pans, equipment and design for labelling. We’re now looking for more finance.
What were the biggest challenges?
Going from being a small-scale operation to getting your product into Tesco is a huge challenge. We went from renting a pan in a production unit to then six weeks later being on 800 supermarket shelves. Our biggest challenge, however, is telling people we’re out there. A supermarket gives you the space and you have to sell the product but we don’t have a marketing budget like some of our big competitors so we have to be innovative and clever with the things we do.
So how was it marketed?
We learned how to write our own press releases, and built up databases of people we wanted to speak to. When we started we did tasting sessions every weekend at food festivals and farmers’ markets. I also did a cookery tour where I would go out and teach as a guest chef at cookery schools so I could build brand presence without having to spend lots of money. Through this activity, people slowly but surely started to take an interest.