Name: Sarah Savage
Business: Essence Foods
Role: Founder and Director
“Small businesses today have a great opportunity to be trailblazers in the food industry by focusing on natural ingredients and providing clear, transparent choices for consumers.”
Essence Food was founded in 2005 by entrepreneur and mum of two, Sarah Savage. Sarah produces handmade, high fruit, low sugar jams, as well as mustards and chutneys.
Having previously owned a deli in the centre of Norwich, Sarah launched Essence Foods after spending a year out of work to be at home with her young sons. She was keen to get back into the food industry – food being a passion that began during childhood when growing up in Singapore and Malaysia – and to create a career that would give her the flexibility to work around her children.
What began as a small production operation from a home kitchen has grown into a three-kitchen set up on a farm near Reepham. Over twelve years the product range has grown from 12 items in 2005 to over 100 products today.
Sarah develops and produces items under the Essence Brand along with bespoke items for other companies. The company ethos is underpinned by a commitment to natural ingredients and quality production. Everything is handmade on the farm in small batches in open pans with no high tech production equipment and no artificial ingredients.
An average day for Sarah begins at 9am on the farm when she starts an array of tasks alongside her small team of three. She cooks produce, deals with orders and phone enquiries and carries out deliveries whilst also managing the administration of the business.
Sarah says “I love what I do – the cooking, the farm and being in a rural location. Being my own boss gives me the freedom to work around my family and it’s something I would recommend to other women and to anyone looking for a career that doesn’t require them to lose valuable time with loved ones.
“It’s great to hear that more women are entering the food and agricultural industries. My advice to anyone looking to set up a small business would be to support and communicate with your peers and fellow business owners. It’s the only way forward for anyone in the small business world.”
Sarah’s relationship with the East of England Co-op began in 2009 with the Tastes of Anglia initiative and was re-started last year through Sourced Locally. Sales have significantly increased as a result, with Essence Products initially being sold in just one store in Long Stratton, and now on offer in 12 stores across Norfolk.
The vast majority of Essence products are sold locally, and Sarah is a strong believer in the need to educate consumers on the positives of shopping local.
She says “Our relationship with the Co-op is fantastic. They are very supportive of the business and communication with the team is so open and easy.
“Their Sourced Locally campaign is so important for the industry. Local producers really care about what they are supplying, they are passionate about produce and while of course we are aiming to keep our business sustainable and make a profit, we don’t have shareholders to keep happy.
“We can encourage more people to shop local by making products easily available and by raising awareness of the quality of the food they are buying and the positive effects this can have on the local economy.
“I believe we will see a continued focus on natural ingredients, as the food industry as a whole has a lot to answer for. This is where small businesses have a great opportunity to be trailblazers, by focusing on natural ingredients and providing clear, transparent choice for consumers.”
or further information on Essence Foods visit www.essencefoods.co.uk.