Olive and Pat have a prod­uct to rel­ish

THIS WEEK: ‘The Birds and the Teas’ chut­neys & rel­ishes

Bray People - - NEWS -

AL­THOUGH MUCH em­pha­sis has been put on Ire­land’s high-tech po­ten­tial in re­cent years, the coun­try’s en­tre­pre­neur­ial land­scape still has much room - and rev­enue - for smaller cot­tage in­dus­tries at­tempt­ing to work their way into the mar­ket. Over the last few months, Wick­low town cou­ple Olive and Pat Ger­maine have been at­tempt­ing to do just that with their busi­ness The Birds and the Teas, which spe­cialises in pro­duc­ing au­then­tic Ir­ish home­made chut­neys and rel­ishes.

Olive and Pat’s story is sim­i­lar to many en­trepreneurs in mod­ern Ire­land who have found them­selves hav­ing to cre­ate their own work in times where jobs can be hard to come by. They worked in bank­ing hos­pi­tal­ity and re­tail re­spec­tively be­fore be­ing let go within a week of each other a year ago. But far from wal­low­ing in their mis­ery, the cou­ple con­ducted a thor­ough in­ven­tory of their skills and in­ter­ests and from this con­spired to launch a new busi­ness ven­ture to­gether.

‘I was let go and my hus­band Pat lost his busi­ness,’ Olive says. ‘We said we could ei­ther dig a hole and bury our­selves or see what sort of skills we had. My fam­ily would al­ways have been into home cook­ing - mak­ing chut­neys and jams - and my hus­band is good at sales, so we said lets put those two things to­gether and see what we come up with.’

Olive de­cided to pol­ish up her home cook­ing skills with a bit of train­ing be­fore they cou­ple went about cre­at­ing their own range of prod­ucts. They have since started re­tail­ing these at car boot sales and farmer’s mar­kets across the county and have a reg­u­lar stall at Kil­rud­dery House in Bray, where their home­made pro­duce has re­ally gone down a treat!

‘ The chut­neys and rel­ishes seemed to re­ally take off,’ Olive en­thuses. ‘ There seems to be a yearn­ing out there for the old hand­made stuff - people say to me ‘ that re­ally brings me back to my grand­mother’s kitchen!’ What we’re try­ing to do is take those ba­sic prod­ucts, de­velop them and give them a mod­ern twist.’

The cou­ple hope to ex­pand their range into main­stream re­tail­ers, but pro­duc­ing the quan­ti­ties re­quired has proved a chal­lenge, and so to rem­edy this they have ac­quired a commercial kitchen in Kil- coole where they now pro­duce their chut­neys and rel­ishes.

‘What we need to do is get the pro­duce into a re­tail en­vi­ron­ment and try to pro­duce the amount that you need to pro­duce to make a mar­gin from it,’ Olive ex­plains.

And if they suc­ceed in this re­gard, she is con­fi­dent that their range - built around nos­tal­gia and an au­then­tic taste de­rived from the pu­rity of the in­gre- di­ents and rus­tic pro­duc­tion process - can go on to cul­ti­vate a place in the hearts of con­sumers across Wick­low and be­yond.

‘Some of these chut­neys take three hours to make with hand-cho­sen in­gre­di­ents,’ she says. ‘ That’s what makes the dif­fer­ence and makes the taste very dif­fer­ent from some­thing that’s been mass pro­duced that you find on a su­per­mar­ket shelf. I’m very en­cour­aged by the way people are re­spond­ing to it.’

Olive and Pat Ger­maine of ‘The Birds and the Teas’ with some of their pro­duce at the Kil­rud­dery Mar­ket.

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