Rachel Kettlewell was stunned at the amount of sugar in jam, so she decided to create her own. Catherine Scott reports.
When teacher Rachel Kettlewell started to wean her daughter Fearne she wanted to give her something healthy to eat.
Her husband Andrew’s family own Raydale Preserves and she was stunned with the amount of sugar that goes into making a jam.
“Drew told me that for something to be called a jam it had to have 60g of sugar per 100g of jam,” recalls Rachel.
“I told him they should make a reduced sugar jam, but he was really busy running his business and I had to go back to teaching.”
But when she has went on maternity leave again with her second daughter Rosie, she was determined to pursue her idea further. She started to experiment to see how much sugar you could take out of jam and still make a tasty product.
She created reduced sugar strawberry and raspberry jams with 40 per cent less sugar and managed to garner the support of her husband.
“What we discovered was that by reducing the sugar we were really able to enhance the flavours and actually we’ve created a product that’s not only healthier, it’s tastier too,” she says.
And so her business Fearne and Rosie, named after her two daughters, was born.
“Fearne and Rosie wouldn’t be here without Andrew and without Raydale. We’ve been able to draw on his business knowledge and experience in developing delicious recipes to again diversify and meet the needs of a rapidly expanding consumer demographic.”
Fearne, now five, Rosie three – who are now joined by baby George, are Rachel’s official tasters
“Rosie is a very picky eater and so I know if she will eat my jam it must be okay.”
But Rachel didn’t want to just create something for her own children’s benefit. “As a teacher I am interested in the health and wellbeing of all children.”
Which is why she decided to expand her range from jams to no added sugar sauces. “I wanted there to be readily available healthier food choices for children and their families,” explains Rachel, who lives in North Yorkshire.
“When I started to wean the girls I was overwhelmed with information, ideas and enthusiasm on how to provide my children with healthy, nutritional and fun foods. I read recipe books, I meal planned, I batch cooked and froze bits and bobs and I loved it.
“I was shocked at the amount of readily available quick meal choices and I felt like there must be a healthier alternative for my children. Not a health food but a healthier food.
“Fearne and Rosie is my little dream. I’ve put my heart into these little jars because I believe that they are important. There quite simply does not need to be such high quantities of sugar in the foods we are giving to our children.”
But coming up with a great idea and a great product is only the start of a story – Rachel then needed to get someone interested in stocking it.
“I’d managed to get it into local farm shops and little cafes in the area, but then I managed to get a meeting with Waitrose. I’d never done anything like that before. I am a teacher and I was talking to one of the biggest supermarkets. But I was so passionate about what I had created that I was ready to tell them how amazing it was. But they had already come across it and loved the entire concept.”
She then received the call she had been waiting for – Waitrose said they would stock Fearne and Rosie initially in 10 of its stores and see how it went.
It must have gone well as Fearne and Rosie is now stocked in 152 Waitrose stores and Morrisons have agreed to stock them in their Yorkshire stores. But despite the success of her business, Rachel is determined to return to teaching when her third maternity leave this time with 10-month-old George finishes.
“Teaching and working with children is an enormous part of who I am. I’m so excited to get back in the classroom. I have been so lucky in that my school has been really supportive in the growth of Fearne and Rosie. I’d love it if I could somehow knit the two roles together in the future,” says Rachel.
“Being a parent has changed my whole world. I am so thankful that I have had the opportunity to build a business that I’m passionate about around my family.
“Fearne has just started reception this year and she is so confident, so clever and so kind. She amazes me. Rosie is hilarious. She’s such a monkey and she’s learning more every day which is a joy to watch. And George, he’s just gorgeous. He’s the little cherry on the top. We’re very lucky.
“Living where we do in rural North Yorkshire meant that it would be difficult for me to return to teaching full-time after maternity leave. Fearne and Rosie is an example of building flexible working in a rural environment. More often than not I can work from home and in the early days I did the majority of Fearne and Rosie work from my phone or laptop once the children were in bed. I worked so hard because I believed in the product.
“I believed that there was a need for readily available, healthier, tastier, happier food choices for children and their families. And guess what? Now there is. And that really is a dream come true.