Catherine Piddington is the owner and founder of Piddington Jam. She started behaving a bit like a witch at her cauldron some years ago and has always loved making jam, but one year she felt reckless and naughty and threw some vanilla into the strawberry jam that was bubbling away. The results made her eyes widen like a child – she had jarred Walls’ Cornetto!
Here Catherine speaks to us at House of Coco and tells us more…
When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
Piddington Jam was launched over Christmas 2013, 10 months after leaving my job. I was motivated by jam itself – it makes me feel that I’m being fed a treat at my mother’s table again and it brings out that long buried childish innocence, happiness and mischievousness in me, and that is what I wanted everyone who tastes my wares to feel again. It is immensely satisfying being able to be in control of my own future whilst giving jam a modern kick up the bum… it has so much more to give.
What’s your background?
Building conservation and heritage was my industry for a long time. However, I have always taken such pleasure in baking and experimenting with combinations. So personally it was a very natural and luxurious decision to go public with my experiments.
How many people are involved in the label and what’s the process behind launching a new piece?
Piddington Jam is officially a Company of 1, but I’m certain it would not be where is it without my ‘silent’ creative team who are integral to its success. Namely my family. I find them inspiring and encouraging and I respect them massively. It’s very important as a company to have people around you with whom you can bounce ideas off without fear of judgment… the honesty of family at disastrous combinations is comical, vital and keeps me grounded.
After hitting on a few new ideas, I start bubbling and playing with quantities until I think it’s ready for initial feedback from anyone I can find. Popular ones are picked out, feedback taken on board and then I keep refining and testing until it’s magical. When I was selling at markets regularly, I would take test products to get a wider audience voice on it. In future I will send to piers, restaurant owners, chefs etc. to get their objective feedback.
If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
Everything so far has been a learning curve, which is vital, so I wouldn’t change it. And I love the path the company is currently on. One of the most important lessons has been to believe in myself from the start, as well as the product. It’s important to follow your instincts and do what you feel is right, even if you are learning. That is what gives you the passion and motivation behind the brand. If you do what you think you ‘should’ be doing, it won’t work as you won’t believe in it and neither will the public. Seek advice and guidance and use it wisely, don’t follow it to the letter.
If we were to buy just ONE product from you for Easter/ springtime, which one would it be?
I love Spring as it screams the coming of strawberries and warmer sun. The perfect time to indulge in many seasonal treats! So I would suggest Strawberry and Vanilla to ooze over hot buttered toast for breakfast in the garden. Luxury.
Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
I am a very keen horse rider. I can switch off completely and focus purely on the horse and ride. It is very important to have that switch as it keeps you refreshed.
Where do you plan on taking the brand in 2015?
Piddington Jam is going international! I’d also like to get more involved with companies, websites and magazines that support luxury British made products. I’m really looking forward to it – watch this space!
To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
I was very humbled when Selfridges approached me. That they were inspired by and believed in Piddington Jam enough to take a risk was a great moment. Very motivating as it confirmed that the company was on the right path.
What inspires each collection?
I allow my imagination to run wild (lamb roast, Wall’s Cornetto, Turkish delight!) – it’s really fun. But in the end, an inspired flavor should make your eyes widen with wonderment: discovered, inviting, coveted. Hard to resist… so don’t.
Where can people find out more?