A SMALL Worcestershire-based food business supplying healthy tasty breakfast pots and snacks is aiming to increase production and reach households throughout the country.
Simplyseedz was founded and is run by former executive, wife and mum Cathryn Zielinski from Stock Green, near Droitwich, who started the enterprise in her kitchen after her full-time job was made redundant.
It started as a bit of an experiment seven years ago while she was looking for work. She was buying seed mixes from supermarkets and thought she could do better herself because they were expensive and contained a lot of cheap ingredients like sesame seeds.
Her children and their friends could not get enough of them so, without any experience in the industry, she started investigating how to set up a food business – registering with environmental health, studying food regulations and hygiene requirements.
The business quickly took off and Cathryn started selling her products at farmers markets and food festivals – often with a little help from her husband Andrew and children Tom and Jessica.
“When I had a full-time job, I was eating badly and I’d pick something up at a petrol station like a sandwich and a bag of crisps before the next long drive. I knew it was not good,” she said.
However her luxury seed mixes and snacks, with no added sugar and salt, are high in protein and designed to keep people going through the day. She uses the natural sugars and tastes from the ingredients such as dates, apricots, cranberries, apple, cinnamon, ginger, honey and Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce.
Last year Simplyseedz won a Great Taste award for its Date and Apricot Porridge and it became the official sponsor of Redditch-born Rio gold medal Paralympian swimmer Claire Cashmore who says the Date and Apricot Porridge is her favourite meal of the day and ideal to help her recover after training.
Now Cathryn is planning to expand the business and increase production with a view to having the Simplyseedz range stocked in supermarkets like Waitrose and Booths in the north of England, as well as on planes and trains, in vending machines, at garages, in bars and pubs.
It is currently available at Gloucester Services, the prestigious Fenwick Food Hall in Newcastle, Daylesford Organic in near Moreton-in-Marsh and is listed on Ocado and Amazon as well as her own Simplyseedz website.
Cathryn’s business has been selected for a crowd funding opportunity with the Tesco Backit campaign. She is aiming to raise £3,000 to help her move up to the next level with increased production, improved branding and a redesigned website. Anyone interested in boosting her chances of achieving her crowd funding target can pledge their support by visiting https://backit.tesco.com/. The deadline for pledges is Friday March 24.
She said she is also trying to raise awareness that her products can be used in creating other dishes – a chef recently toasted one of the porridge mixes to use as a crust on a fish dish and one of her seed mixes was used in a buckwheat salad.
“Although they are branded as porridge and seed mixes, they can be used as an ingredient. Because they come in convenient measures, it means there is less waste than buying the individual ingredients.
“I want people to see Simplyseedz and know it is very honest and exactly what it says on the packet. I want it to be a really trusted brand. I really care about every customer and I want them to trust that they are getting the best. There are so many sharks out there in the food industry. I know everything that goes into my products.”
Cathryn adds that she wouldn’t give her customers anything she wasn’t happy for her own family to eat.