Name: Melanie Auld.

Age: 45.

What is your business called?

Spice Pots.

Where is it based?

Longniddry, East Lothian.

What does it produce?

Premium Indian Spice Blends to simplify curry cooking at home. We also sell high end food gifts and have a cookbook. It’s our mission to provide an easy solution for busy people to cook healthy meals.

To whom does it sell?

We supply farm shops, garden centers, butchers and health food shops all over the UK and Ireland. We sell both direct and via six distributors. We also have listings on multiple websites including Notonthehighstreet and we export to a luxury hamper company in Germany.

What is its turnover?


How many employees?

I have two part time employees at the moment and I’ll be taking on another ½ in January! I’m passionate about supporting Mums that want to work but find it difficult due to childcare costs and lack of flexibility within the workplace. I aim to offer roles which can fit around a family but also offer stimulation and a chance to progress.

When was it formed?

In 2014, from my home kitchen in Gullane. I used to source all the spices and then grind them for each Spice Pot. It took me days to prepare enough to sell at a single event and a wise person, who had had their own successful food business, suggested that I outsource the production so that I could concentrate on sales. It took quite a while to find what I felt was the right company.

Why did you take the plunge?

I had lived in India as a 19 year old and had learnt the art of making proper curry, but when my three sons were born in quick succession I no longer had the time (and we lived very rurally), so I came up with the idea of batch blending spices and simplifying recipes to create shortcut curries. I used these blends and recipes for years in my own kitchen so I knew they worked a treat. It seemed like the natural thing to do when I was looking for a new challenge. I knew I didn’t want to go back to work for someone else and that I wanted to build a business around my family.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

I was being run ragged by three little boys, aged five, six and seven. But prior to this, I organised high profile events in London, such as Mercury Music Prize nominations, and then latterly, Glasgow.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

In the form of a small inheritance from my Gran, although I’m not sure curry was her thing!

What was your biggest break?

There has been no single moment but a series of events. I often describe it as putting all the dots out there and then gradually they all join up and the business gains momentum. Highlights include winning an award at the Scotland Food and Drink Excellence awards in 2018 and gaining listings through sheer persistence. I once told a well-known chain of shops that I was going to be in the area on a particular day, drove three and a half hours there, pitched and served them curry, then drove back again. I got the listing and am still stocked there today.

What was your worst moment?

At the end of 2018, I experienced crushing self doubt and felt paralysed through fear of failure. I did a lot of soul searching and had to make the decision whether or not to continue. This led me to make a number of changes, not only in the business, but within myself. This worst moment has actually turned into a complete lifestyle change and a very different and much more positive outlook on life and my business. I now have a very disciplined routine, starting at six am every day, which includes multiple cups of tea and thinking time, meditation and a long walk with the dog on the beach. By the time my family are up, I’m on fire and ready to start bringing about the intentions that I set during that blissful, quiet time on my own.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

I love the variety; I can be packing orders one minute with the radio on full blast, then pitching to some pretty scary looking people the next. It’s a joy coming up with new ideas too - this might be content for our website, a new product slant, a new recipe or a new packaging design. I get to be lots of different things!

What do you least enjoy?

Managing inventory and stock control - obviously vital parts of the business and I’m looking forward to when I can employ someone to do that for me. Numbers have also been in the ‘least enjoy’ category in the past but I have taught myself to love this! I don’t love chasing invoices either. Filling out very long forms for new distributors or suppliers is also not a highlight!

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

I have had a huge amount of support from East Lothian Council, Business Gateway and Scottish Development International so I can’t fault the help that I have received.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

If something doesn’t pan out the way you would like, let it go and realise that there is something better around the corner. If you hold on to an outcome and it doesn’t happen, it can destroy your self-confidence which in turn affects every single decision that you make.

How do you relax?

By dog walking on Gullane beach, watching movies with my family, cooking and going on holiday.

, preferably where there is no wifi!