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Salt sellers who are movers and shakers

If you ever fancy knowing what decadence feels like canada goose coat 1000 bulbs garland without spending ruinous sums of money, head for the food hall at Harvey Nichols and a splendidly handsome assistant (try the Manchester store) will be delighted to relieve you of the best part of a fiver in return for 250g of salt.

Peering inside the nifty little cardboard tube, you will discover organic handmade sea salt, distilled from the deep waters that sweep through the Menai Straits, the rift that splits the Snowdonia mountains from the island of Anglesey.

Naturally filtered by sandbanks and mussel beds, the sea water is piped ashore, distilled, evaporated, cooled, rinsed and hand-finished, resulting in wondrous piles of snowy white flakes.

David Lea-Wilson’s trip authentic canada goose outlet online down the beach in 1997, saucepan in hand, to scoop up a few pints of seawater was an experiment. Yet once boiled dry on the Aga, the few grey crystals which emerged convinced him and his wife Alison that some serious research could transform this salt into a world-class product.

Through a mixture of hard work, fortuitous timing, original thinking and, crucially, the willingness to experiment, Halen Môn (Welsh for Anglesey sea salt) is now a roaring success. Its order books are full to bursting and clients include Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and renowned restaurant El Bulli.

Salt was not a blindingly obvious business proposition five years ago. As owners of the Sea Zoo tourist attraction on Anglesey, the Lea-Wilsons were facing a crisis, having been asked to buy out their business partner at the same time as visitor numbers were static at best. The couple also wanted to provide secure employment for their staff over the winter months.

Brainstorming guided by a consultant from the Snowdonia Business Innovation Centre resulted in more than 50 wild and wacky ideas for new ventures. „Our screening criteria were that we had to use the skills and facilities we already had, and it had to cost less than £10,000 click, because that was the amount we felt we could risk,” explains David Lea-Wilson.

„I kept coming back to sea salt – it was completely off the wall, and nobody had done it in Wales since the canada goose coat $5000 no credit check signature loans Romans.”

Initially dismissed because it was envisaged that market research would cost more than £10,000, the sea salt idea began to see daylight when the Lea-Wilsons recruited six postgraduate students from Manchester Business School to help out.

Tutors allowed the project to be used as coursework, and while it cost around £2,000 in expenses, the husband and wife team reckon best canada goose coat 1000 calorie diet canada goose jacket style the value of that research was easily 10 times their investment. Alison points out that as well as being enthusiastic and technically expert, students can often gain information through people’s sheer goodwill that would be expensive and sometimes impossible for a business to elicit on its own.

With the help of a postgraduate student from Bangor University who understood the chemistry of seawater, a further £5,000 was spent on experimenting with extraction techniques.

In a quest to discover the most tantalising salty taste, gallons of brine from different areas of the coast were furiously boiled up in a large enamel bath, while the crystals that emerged were scrutinised for colour and size. Finally, explains David, „we knew we had something that looked different and tasted fantastic. We weren’t going to use chemicals or factory methods. Also, we best price for canada goose jacket knew we didn’t want to go down the route to mass production, because we could never compete.”

Creating a unique product with gourmet appeal was the only way to make the enterprise work – and fortunately the foodie notion of „terroir” was starting to take off.

As the only UK company making sea salt by hand, the Lea-Wilsons’ business proposition was for Halen Môn to be a flagship Welsh product. Having spent heavily on branding, however, Alison laughs as she recalls that the minimum production run on labelled canada goose coat 1000 bulbs garland containers cost too much.

So best place to buy a canada goose jacket in toronto it was with 10 home-made tubes of salt amazon canada goose jacket and stall space donated by a friendly yoghurt maker that David hit London’s International Food Exhibition in 1999 in search of their first customer.

This turned out to be the village butcher, John Swain. Having travelled 250 miles in search of something a bit exotic, Mr Swain ended up buying a product made just down the road. However, with his commitment and interest from a posh deli in Knightsbridge, Halen Môn was up and running.

It hasn’t stopped since. Having grown at 40% best ideas about canada goose outlet online on pinterest a year over five years, juggling supply and demand is now the challenge. When the first request for an entire pallet came through, Halen Môn’s skilled salt panners worked overtime for six weeks. At up to 50 tonnes a year, production is now running at capacity.

The Lea-Wilsons view this as a prime opportunity to up the gears, and have planning permission to build a £3.6m ecologically sound, turf-roofed processing site. The bigger plant will initially create 24 secure jobs in a desperately depressed region.

„All the fringe areas of Britain are suffering from de-population. If the productive part of the local economy is lost, and all you get is people retiring, then the people who need to make a living can’t manage any more,” says David.

„By creating a sustainable, long-term business that is growing fast, and making a high-value product, we are creating the ability to offer year-round jobs that are paid more than other things that are traditional here, like agriculture or call centres.

„We have 82 suppliers in Wales, so Halen Môn acts as a pump primer and an engine of regional growth. And we have 22 export customers, so we are making money come into the local economy.

„We’re at another crossroads now, and if we don’t expand we will regret it,” agrees Alison. „It’s tremendously exciting, but with just enough fear in there to keep you alive!”

· For further information: www.seasalt.co.uk