Have you heard of Tiny Marmalade Co?
Photos by Aga Kowalska Photograpy & Charli Liddle
There are very few marmalade companies that can boast that they’ve graced the pages of Vogue Magazine; but then again The Tiny Marmalade Company is no ordinary foodie enterprise.
Run by Paloma Hermoso from her family home in Exeter, this is one foodie business that is no corporate affair. Paloma credits her success both locally and nationally to keeping things simple and lending a personal touch to every aspect of her business. If like us you believe that the best quality products are made with love, then you’re going to love our latest interview….
I met with Paloma last month at Exeter’s Coffee One, where we chatted enthusiastically about the success of The Tiny Marmalade Company over the humdrum of the busy coffee shop. From the very outset I was taken aback by her entrepreneurial spirit and it was clear to me that this was a foodie who was committed to sticking to her small business principals. As we sipped away on our drinks Paloma explained that TTMC is all about utilising fresh, local produce and maintaining a personal touch throughout every process. These two ideas really resonate with The Devon Foodie philosophy and naturally I couldn’t wait to find out more…
Paloma’s earliest foodie memories are from her childhood in Spain, where she remembers experimenting with flavours and ingredients when cooking for her two siblings. So when she and her family first made the move to England they were quick to fall in love with Devon’s rolling hills and its penchant for homegrown produce. As we chat away conversation naturally turns to how Paloma got started with TTMC and she talks wistfully about her first ever trip to a ‘pick your own’ farm. After a fun-filled afternoon of family bonding, she returned home from the farm with tubs filled to the brim with seasonal berries and fruit. At first she confessed that she was unsure about what to do with the tremendous glut, but when her mother stepped in and suggested that she tried making some homemade jams Paloma got down to work and realised she might just be on to something. Using the fresh, seasonal berries she produced her first batch of ‘Handpicked Berry Jam’ and The Tiny Marmalade Company was born.
Flavours and Inspiration
The Tiny Marmalade Company has grown a lot since that first jar of Handpicked Berries Jam and with over 50 varieties of marmalade and condiment available in its range I was keen to find out where Paloma finds inspiration for her many unique flavour combinations. There’s everything from Mojito Marmalade – with lime and peppermint – to Toffee Apple Jam, and Orange Blossom Honey, each presented in tiny beautifully illustrated jars.
“My ideas can come from anywhere” Paloma explained. Sometimes her and her husband can be sat on the sofa reading the Sunday paper when suddenly a spark of inspiration comes to one of them and they have to jot it down. At other times she finds that customers come to her with ideas or her family and friends challenge her with new concepts. Paloma is always up for a challenge she’s happy to give each potential recipes a try!
But how does she decide if they work or not? Well, that’s where the rest of the Hermoso family comes in. After coming up with a new flavour, Paloma makes a batch of jam and trials it on what she describes as her ‘mini tasting panel’. If her husband and two boys give her the green light, then the flavour gets popped on to the website and she’ll judge its popularity on her customer feedback. Indeed, sometimes Paloma will send out new jars to her customers in exchange for their honest opinion, which she says it’s often the best way to tell if a product will be popular.
Many of the flavours came about as a result of experimentation too. When I asked what her favourite flavour was she was torn between Handpicked Berries (still one of her best sellers to this day) and a particularly unusual variety that came about as the result of being dared to create something unusual by her friend: Strawberry, Black Pepper and Tarragon Jam!
But I had to know: has there ever been a flavour that just didn’t go to plan?
“Oh yes” Paloma laughed, “I once trialed a prickly pear jam and let’s just say it didn’t get past my discerning panel of tasters…”
Let’s talk about branding
At this point in our coffee meeting I was keen to ask Paloma about her branding. Sat on the table in front of us was a gift set of tiny jars that were packed so delicately prettily that it was clear a personal touch had been called on. This was no ordinary gift set – this gift set had heart.
Such attention to detail led me to assume that Paloma must have called in a little outside help but I was surprised to learn that she does all of the branding and packaging herself (along with a little help from her husband and two boys). Armed only with a stock image subscription and a copy of Photoshop she lets her natural eye for colour lead the way.
“I’m a little hyperactive”, she laughs, “I like to personally consider every element of the packaging and the product”.
Like the preserves themselves, she explained that there are no rules involved in the packaging – only a self-diagnosed weakness for soft colours, scenes of nature and watercolour prints. There was a real homemade vibe to the beautiful gift set in front of me, which came with a delicate bow, a customised banner and a striped candy-cane for an extra festive flourish. It’s details like this that set TTMC aside from their competitors and its Paloma injection of her personality that reassures you her products are made with genuine care.
Looking to the Future
So far in is short lifespan The Tiny Marmalade Company has already been featured in countess magazines (including Vogue, Crumbs, Devon Life and Brides Magazine), stocked by the likes of Darts Farm and won accolades such as The South West Fairtrade Award; so you might be wondering what’s next on the cards for Paloma and her preserves. But if there’s one thing this foodie entrepreneur is keen on assuring me it’s that we won’t be seeing any major changes to the company’s ethos any time soon. What couldn’t be clearer is that TTMC is all about having fun, creating great products and using local ingredients. Paloma regularly updates her own blog: tinymarmalade.blogspot.co.uk and is busy creating new flavours every day. But despite many tempting offers, Tiny Marmalade Co. won’t be selling out anytime soon. While Paloma intends to make every success of her brand, she’s focused on maintaining her loyal customer base and producing new and exciting products. Indeed, this is one foodie business that you can bet your hat will still be running true to itself for years to come.