Aynsley Evoli founded The Fresh Herb Salt Company, handcrafted in Norfolk, in the early noughties. Here, she explains how she has managed to adapt her business over recent, more challenging, years
The 2020 lockdown was challenging for many micro-businesses. However, there was a silver-lining for people such as Aynsley Evoli, Founder of The Fresh Herb Salt Company, and other artisan food producers. ‘We had just relaunched in 2019 so it could have been a disaster’, says Aynsley, who founded her business based in Shotesham St Mary near Norwich in the early noughties, ‘but, thankfully, farmers markets were allowed to stay open and that proved to be a great opportunity for us to get our brand out there and to meet new customers.’
Unlike mass produced herb salts, Aynsley only uses fresh herbs in different combinations to suit different recipes. She learnt how to preserve the goodness of summer fresh herbs in sea salt for year-long use when she lived in Italy.
‘The salt is both a preservative and a flavour enhancer, so you get that really fresh flavour sensation. This proved to be very popular with people, particularly during lockdown when so many people were experimenting with home baking and cooking.’
When the restrictions lifted, the farmers markets saw a bit of a slowdown but by then Aynsley had started selling refills online and decided to do some digital training. “I started with Norfolk County Council’s free Go Digital service. That provided professional marketing advice and a small grant for new website photos.
‘Next, I secured some lockdown-recovery funding from the New Anglia Growth Hub to develop my online shop, which uses Shopify. I was keen to do more to promote this, because remote selling means I can build a much larger audience. Also, I do not want to depend on retail outlets because that cuts my margins.”
Then, in August 2022, Aynsley got an email about the Skills Bootcamps organised by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership for people in Norfolk and Suffolk. These training schemes receive funding from the Department for Education as part of its ‘Skills for Life’ campaign. As such, they are free to individual learners, particularly the self-employed, and are heavily subsidised for micro-businesses and SMEs. ‘As soon as I saw the Digital Marketing Skills Bootcamps, run by Anicca Digital, I had to apply – and I am so glad I did.’
She adds: ‘I have now completed and passed my Level 5 Professional Digital Marketing of which I have learnt so much. It has been invaluable to my business for the understanding of how the web works and how to use it for your business. There is obviously still a lot to learn and put into practice, but I have enjoyed every moment of it. I continue to take part in weekly webinars to continue my learning and understanding of all things digital.’
Aynsley has been busy taking The Fresh Herb Salt Company to various farmers’ markets and events, including the recent Worstead Festival. She says: ‘We also go regularly to Creake Abbey Farmers’ Market which is the first Saturday in each month where we are growing our customers every month – new holiday makers who buy from the market and then re-buy from our online shop. This is a great testament to our product in the fact that they like it enough to buy it again.
‘For the future we will continue to grow the company both online, and through markets and events, and hopefully be investing in a sachet-making machine to be able to get our samples out to the B2B marketplace i.e., butchers, farm shops, camping and glamping sites, hampers, food boxes etc. The possibilities are huge, but we are hopeful that there may be some more grants available to perhaps give us that helping hand which has been so brilliant during and since the pandemic.’
From Jars to Refill Pouches, The Fresh Herb Salt Company products have been lovingly handcrafted in Norfolk with organically approved pure white sea salt. Visit freshherbsalt.com. To find out about the next Skills Bootcamps visit New Anglia.
Featured image of Aynsley Evoli supplied by New Anglia LEP