Boot strapping beginnings
by Catherine Stace
Growing up as high school friends, Susie and I would often hang out together after school and devour thick bread slathered with butter and banana jam made by Susie’s mum, our beloved ‘lady Di’. We always said one day we will make Banana Jam for everyone to enjoy, we loved it that much!
Fast forward to today, armed with knowledge on the impact sugar has on health and mood, we modified the recipe to make it rich and wholesome with high fibre and zero refined sugars. We developed an understanding of the importance of tree fruits versus runner fruits and created a range of exotic tree-based fruit jams.
Together we share a sustainable ethos and to do as much as we can for people and planet in our lifetime. Providing quality food, supporting health and vitality and contributing towards zero wastage for Australian farmers is an important responsibility we hold ourselves accountable in achieving.
In May 2017, with three weeks to spare, we refined recipes and got cracking on our first batch of our Australian fruit range – Banana Jam, Guava & Pineapple Jam and Mango & Ginger Jam and exhibited at the Naturally Good expo in Sydney. Industry feedback on the taste, texture, concept and branding was overwhelmingly positive yet we still had a long way to go to understand logistics, pricing and the food system.
At this time distributors wanted to represent us however we couldn’t get our pricing to be economically viable unless we made our jams cheaper or increased the price. There was no way we were ever going to compromise and put white sugar in our jams and we held fear around pricing too high that it closed down distributor discussions at the time.
It was at this point that I realised how much price or rather, fear of over pricing drives what products we see on shelf. No wonder it has taken so long to bring healthier foods to the mass market. It takes courage to take a stand and I felt strongly that we cannot roll over and compromise.
After the Naturally Good expo, Susie made a tough financial decision to relinquish her partnership and go back to full time work. This was received with my understanding and blessing. She still has her heart in the business today and is my dearest friend through life.
At the same time, I relocated from Sydney to Bendigo to live with my ever-supportive partner Jerry Speiser and to help me recover from the debilitating symptoms of Lyme Disease. It was during this period that I kept working to keep our jam dream alive.
Somehow I got through that year, navigating the unknowns of health and being unemployable, concerned where money will come from, not being eligible for any grants and learning the hard way on the job. I had a lot of uncertain days and fears around whether consumers would pay a premium price for a jam loaded with high quality ingredients and how I was going to get this all to work out.
I stuck to the highest integrity of the product and didn’t compromise on ingredients or price. Our jams are rich, dense and full of fibre – there is so much more jam per jar than the standard jam. Our 300ml Banana Jam is 420 grams of delicious jam.
This was a defining moment. I realised that whilst our price is higher than most jams, our value per serve, high quality and versatility of uses is significantly more economical than standard jams. If people can spend $10 on a loaf of artisan bread, then our pricing is on point. This is how I rose above the price debate on jams and started to shift attitudes on pricing to distributors, retailers and consumers.
From this moment, South Pacific Jam Company became an unapologetic, desirable brand.
And with renewed vigour we embraced bootstrapping our business.
Soon after, divine intervention occurred when our very talented Irish graphic designer Fran Flynn (who caught me from falling many times) invited me to join a closed Facebook group run by Chelsea Ford called Females in Food. It was there I began to learn, connect with other women in similar stages to me and I grew in confidence. I was starting to integrate my knowledge into action and clarity. My confidence was returning as was my health. It was in this group I was fortunate to meet with Food Marketer Lindi Glass, who had recently come out the other end of her national food start up. Together, Lindi and I relished developing a marketing strategy and set out an implementation plan to launch. Jerry became an investor and active partner to help set up logistics and operations and together we developed an end to end system. Our jam manufacturer is the keeper of all jam secrets and a beautiful soul to work with who has collaborated with me to ensure our jams are commercially viable, scalable and consistent with each batch.
With everything in place, we appointed sales agent Jo Sebok who is really better described as a change agent, as she understands how to drive market change in food innovation and challenge the status quo with food buyers on how to meet growing customer needs for quality, whole food products.
It is our highest intention to create a sustainable, thriving Australian business, delighting people around the world with our rich amber colours, luscious fruit flavours and high quality ingredients. That’s why our tagline resonates so deeply with me ‘taste the feeling of spontaneous joy’. There’s so much love and joy in every jar of our jam.
We hope you enjoy our beautiful jams as much as we do.
Food entrepreneur, change agent, health advocate and keynote speaker.
Catherine has more than 30 years’ experience in corporate and not-for-profit sectors. Her expertise is in developing innovative change strategies and leading business growth across reputation, revenue and relationships.
She is a citizen scientist and patient advocate who has written scientific hypotheses on the brain/biome axis and the role of micro-organisms and pathogens in systemic cancers and chronic diseases. Because of this new body of research, Catherine is fiercely committed to providing the mass consumer with functional foods as a societal transition tool that supports brain/biome systems.
She is a mother to two boys and believes everyone has the right to access healthy food options that stack up favourably against inferior junk food alternatives.
Business Consultant, Science Philosopher, Educator, Music Producer, Drummer Jerry balances his life across three industries: education, music and business.
As a Musician and Producer
In the music industry, his passion for playing drums started as a four-year-old when he heard the marching drums from the nearby primary school. After years of dedication to his craft he co-founded Men at Work (MAW), one of Australia’s internationally most successful bands. MAW won a Grammy award for Best New Artist in 1982, sold over 12 million albums worldwide and was inducted into the Australian Music Hall of Fame in 1994. After MAW, Jerry played with various bands live and in the studio but concentrated more on producing bands and artists in the studio, which he was doing even before MAW. His latest producing project, which he also played on has evolved into a touring band, Dirty Rascal.
As an Educator and Science Philosopher
In the year after completing his BSc with a major in physics, Jerry began tutoring in maths and physics as well as teaching drums. Learning and teaching come naturally to Jerry and when he was introduced to the work of Buckminster Fuller in 1990, he was inspired to learn more and started a ‘Bucky Study Group’. This launched him into a new career where he ran workshops in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and America.
To Jerry, physics is also philosophy, a way of thinking and consequently he had an immediate affinity with Fuller who had an amazing ability to bridge physics and philosophy or the physical and the metaphysical. Jerry’s expertise is in teaching and interpreting the generalised principles and how to apply them to business and everyday life.
As a Business Consultant and Owner/Manager
From speaking and presenting workshops, it was a natural progression when Jerry was asked to come into organisations to implement systems based on the generalised principles. He assumed the role of a business coach and consultant, which evolved into a business. He has worked with many organisations, helping them evolve to be more efficient and productive. What is more significant is that the methodology used in making these improvements inadvertently transforms the culture of these organisations so they become fully functioning, self-correcting environments of fulfilment.
From 1986 to 1993 Jerry also owned and managed an importing and distribution musical goods business. His experience in business and consulting to business makes him the perfect partner for Catherine. Jamming for Jerry has now gone to another dimension.
Sharper Marketing have a passion for working with up & coming food brands, and are currently working with retailers and manufacturers of real, Australian food products.
Lindi Glass and her team are passionate foodies, looking to create an edge for authentic food & beverage producers. Their goal is to deliver authentic, brand-centric marketing that builds business revenue.
Engaging customers with compelling brand communications, enables food & beverage businesses to attract customers. Sharper Marketing, together with their team of professional brand and packaging designers, digital marketers and bloggers – are creating solid growth for their clients.
Lindi draws from 20 years of experience in marketing & sales – most recently working with her food business, Pure Good Bars. She also draws deeply on the structure and rigor that she obtained during her time in corporate roles and with advertising agencies in Sydney and London. She has worked with Forrester, global thought leaders in business consulting, Marketing Angels, a Sydney based marketing group, Telstra Bigpond and Bupa.
National Account Manager, Wellness Advocate, Sales Agent, Mum of two (& Sometimes commercial TV extra – just for fun)
Jo has had a diverse corporate career in Australia in National Account Management, Channel Management, Field team development, Training, Small business, Brand development and Distribution.
This 30 year career spans managing Five Star Hotel Dining rooms, working with some of Australia’s leading chefs, to selling premium Australian wine to Sydney’s A echelon restaurants, sommeliers and Five Star Hotels. A stint in the family business saw her develop the company’s online presence, manage the sales team, work alongside distributors, develop new branding and introduce an organic range of products to their portfolio.
In recent years she was approached to consult and project manage for an Australian Family business in Consumer goods. This lead to her role as the National Account Manager for KitchenAid Australia & New Zealand, heading the launch of this global small domestic appliance brand, into Australia’s largest retailer.
Her return to the food industry aligns with her long held passion for Australian producers. As a wellness advocate with a philosophy of making food her medicine, a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease, increased the importance and focus on what goes in and on her body. This focus continues to fire her drive to spread the word and be part of the change for a healthier sustainable community and future.