In late 2011 Dad was making potted beef for friends and family for Christmas. He asked me if I wanted to join him. (Remember, this was the stuff that I couldn’t even be in the same room with as it was being made when I was a kid!) But that’s what I did – I went to help my dad. We made a load of it and put it in glass jars. I enjoyed doing it – the time with my dad and the process of actually making the potted beef. It was, after all effectively in the blood. The family meats business had started with my great-grandfather then gone down to his son, then down to his son – my dad. Seeing my dad really get into making it and thinking of the whole history and importance to our family really registered with me that Christmas.
I was working for a telemarketing company in Sheffield at the time. As much as I wanted to sell houses or work in an area relating to my studies, those jobs had all gone for my graduation year. My year in South Africa had been a great experience but it had put me further down the queue for jobs in my field.
I took some of the potted beef in for my work colleagues. They loved it. And then I had that lightbulb moment. “Why aren’t I doing this?” And then another thought, thinking ahead to having a big potted meats business, a Del Boy kind of thought, “This time next year we’ll be millionaires!”
I got thinking, more seriously. Why not? I knew that the stuff sold back in the day was realty good and the business was successful. I also knew that what was being old under that name now was very different. There was a gap in the market for a higher quality version potted beef and range of pâtés, and that’s where we could come in. The idea of what would become Granny Mary’s was taking shape.
Thinking about a re-born potted meats empire with sales stretching across the north of England, I said to my dad, “I’m thinking about going into business. Would you help me?”
I had nothing to lose, really. I was in a job and doing it for the sake of it; there was no passion. The more I thought about how I’d seen my dad passionate at Christmas about what he was making and seeing the reaction of people eating it, I realised something inside me had stirred. I can do this, I thought. I’m going to do this.
I spoke to my dad again, leaning on his knowledge and experience. He was always supportive.
“I’ll help you, but whatever you do, don’t give up your job,” he said.
I quit my job the next day, and that was it. We were off.
We started making our potted meats and pâtés in an unused pub kitchen in Sheffield. We needed more space after a while. One of Dad’s friends had had a food production company in Chesterfield. He had leased a unit but wasn’t using it, so we moved there. A real passion developed in me and we really got to work. My cousin came to join us and then we hired other staff and built it up from there.
We moved into our current premises in early 2018. And the rest, as they say, is history.