Business the spice of her life
A love of spicy food and cooking has been the main motivation behind Gingin local Sharon Hollington starting her own pre-packaged spice mix business.
The business, Complete Ingredients, aims to take the hard work out of turning everyday meats into something special.
Quitting her day job in 2011 and deciding to start Complete Ingredients was a successful decision for Sharon, who said she had received lots of local support for her products and was busy keeping up with demand.
Her spice mixes have been so successful that she has diversified into slow cooker meals and marinades in order to keep providing something new for her loyal customers.
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Sharon sells her products at the Chittering Shire local market and special events. She also receives special orders for events and sells her spice mixes on her website.
Sharon said the idea for Complete Ingredients was a long time in the making, and was mainly developed due to her family and friends enjoying her cooking but never trying to replicate it themselves at home.
"When people came to dinner they would always ask me for recipes but never end up taking on the challenge of recreating the meal for themselves," she said.
"Complete Ingredients takes away the need to go out and buy dozens of spices that you might never use again.
"There can be a lot of wastage in buying all your own spices. For example, some of my mixes have up to 17 spices in them."
Sharon, who has been running Complete Ingredients for two years, said she was surprised and inspired by how well her products were supported.
The Complete Ingredients range comprises three types of spice mixes, including 'meal in bag', 'slow cooker meals' and 'marinades'.
"There are 10 varieties of meal in a bag mixes, such as Aromatic Pork Curry, Caribbean Lamb and Royal Chicken Curry," Sharon said. "These spice mixes come individually packaged with a step-by-step meal preparation card including what other ingredients you will need and pictures of how the cooking process should progress."
Following the success of her meal in a bag mixes, Sharon was asked about slow cooker meals and so created seven spice mixes suitable for use in slow cooking. These include ginger beef, lamb tagine and red chicken, which are available and sought-after all-year round.
The most recent addition to the Complete Ingredients product list was 10 marinade spice mix varieties, including spicy chick, asian fish and magic marsala.
Sharon is a self-taught cook and has always liked spicy food.
"I particularly like Moroccan-type meals and love the sweet and sour combinations, which is not to everyone's taste," she said. "There are a few other companies doing what I do, but I like to be unique and try to create my own recipes."
Sharon tries her recipes out on a selection of friends and family before releasing them to the public, and being an avid cook something new is always being trialled in her kitchen.
While the opportunity to produce spice mixes on a large scale could be in the future, for now Sharon said she was happy to supply the local market.
"I have received a lot of support through the Shire of Chittering Market Committee," Sharon said.
"They are behind providing an alternating market at Bindoon and Chittering on the last Sunday of every month and also provide opportunities to attend special events throughout the year."
Sharon has also attended the prestigious Claremont Farmers Markets and recently attended the Northam Christmas Markets, held once a year.
It was after attending the Claremont markets that Sharon started working with Gingin's Guinea Grove Olive Oil Company to create a dukkah for use with their olive oil.
Sharon said networking opportunities like this often helped small businesses and it was seizing a similar opportunity with Bindoon butcher Fresh Farm Meats that has also seen her spice mixes become available to a bigger audience.
"Working with the owners of Fresh Farm Meats over the past 18 months, a lot of customers have been encouraged to try my spice mixes, which has been a great opportunity for my business," she said.
In the future, Sharon is interested in developing the special events side of Complete Ingredients.
She has already packaged a few spice mixes for weddings and birthday parties and is very interested in promoting and developing spice mixes as bonbonnieres and gift packs.
"Occasionally I have different gift packs available on my stall including a sweet cinnamon and clove blend. I also make a Texas Rub and South American mix," Sharon said.
She said people interested in developing their own spice mix for a special event could contact her via her website or on Facebook.
While initially the business was a hobby, Sharon said she felt there was room to develop more products for her spice range - her driving force is the interest and support of customers.
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