Posted July 7, 2005 by Nick Lindauer in Hot Sauce News



A COUPLE of keen gardeners have turned their 10-year passion for growing chillis into a red-hot new business.

Kathy and Wilf Thompson grow more than 20 different types of the pungent pods as well as making their own sauces and chilli jellies – all from home. And now they’ve started their own specialist business, Chillis Galore, selling them on the internet to shops and at farmers’ markets.

It’s a complete change of direction for 41-year-old Kathy who was an electronics assembler for 18 years when RSI forced her to give up, five years ago.

The idea was born when enthusiastic cook Wilf, 43, made some chilli jelly.

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It got Kathy thinking about starting a business and the first shop she walked into said they would take all the stock they had. Now they supply 30 outlets.

And after their website www.chillisgalore.co.uk was mentioned in The New York Post they had 1,500 hits in one day. It is full of ideas, growing tips and has a forum as well as a great online shop.

Here, we chat to Kathy:

HOW do you operate from home? We keep all the supplies stored under the stairs and keep a stock of about 1,000 jars in the study. We sow our chilli plants in March to sell in June.

Cooking is done in the mornings and we do the labelling on jars at night while watching telly.

HOW hot is hot? We cater for the British palate so even our hottest is not very hot by some standards.

Most people think there are just the two varieties – red and green – but there are hundreds more.

I’m always telling people to try them and they are generally pleasantly surprised.

HOW did you pick up the business side of things? When I stopped working in electronics I was unemployed, which enabled me to go on a free business training course at the Women’s Employment, Enterprise and Training Unit.

I learned so much, ranging from trading standards to legal issues and dealing with the public to environmental health.

HOW did you develop your jellies? It was trial and error to start. A lot of jelly went down the loo because it wouldn’t set. We started with three products and developed from there, listening to what customers liked.

Ideas come from them and that’s what spurs us on.

WHAT’S your best-seller? It varies, but Jamaican Hot Chilli Jelly and Thai Chilli Sauce are very popular.

CONTACT: www.chillisgalore. co.uk

Nick Lindauer

The Original Hot Sauce Blog