When Michelle Bowley began growing salad in her garden she never imagined years later her freshly produced leaves and flowers would turn into an award winning business.
But with the help of Business Gateway Sutherland, Saladworx has become one of the premier growers and suppliers of salad leaves, edible flowers and herbs.
And not only has it won leading business awards, but also lucrative contracts with some of Scotland’s top hotels and restaurants.
Michelle, a keen gardener, began growing her own salad on a patch of her family farm just outside Dornoch. She wanted to feed her three children as many fresh and organic goods as possible and felt it would be easier to produce her own.
She said: “My husband David is a farmer and gardening has always been a favourite hobby of mine so we knew the best way to go about growing our own salad. We moved to the farm in the Highlands eight years ago from Devon and I was finding it hard to find a regular supply of the type of herbs and leaves I wanted. I quickly came to the conclusion that growing my own would be the best option. It was fun to do and the results were a quality produce that our family benefitted from.
“I knew that not only were we creating a high standard of produce but that other people and businesses in the area must be in need of salad leaves and herbs so after talking it over with David, we decided to start Saladworx.”
In the six years since Saladworx was conceived, Michelle and David have worked hard building the business. They now supply Skibo Castle, Albert Roux’s Rocpool Reserve, Culloden House Hotel and other various high end establishments.
They have also had plenty to celebrate already this year after Business Gateway Highlands and Moray named them their Business of the Year.
And just last month, they won two prestigious Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards for Product of the Year and Product Innovation of the Year.
The latter recognises the best of Scotland’s food and drink industry and the glittering ceremony was held at the Doubletree by Dunblane Hilton Hotel. The entries were judged by a panel comprising industry experts and journalists.
Michelle added: “We are delighted to win these awards. Over the last six years we have worked tirelessly to establish the company and get people to know about us. The £5000 we won at the Business Gateway awards allowed us to buy much needed equipment so we can expand the business this year. To win twice at the Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards was overwhelming and we feel very privileged that the judges were impressed by us.
“We are in the process of creating and bottling our own salad dressing that we hope will prove as popular as our leaves. We have also taken on staff and that is something we will be looking at throughout the next six months as we want to expand to a size that we can be seen as a viable employer in the area.”
Michelle approached her local Business Gateway office for support and advice in how to take Saladworx forward.
She said: “We can’t thank Business Gateway enough for the help and advice they have given us through the years. Knowing we had access to an expert who could help us with any issues we had has been very encouraging. The confidence Business Gateway has shown in us especially in naming us their Business of the Year has made us more confident in our business plans.
David Knight, Regional Development officer, Business Gateway Sutherland said: “We are thrilled with the development and success of Saladworx. Michelle and David have worked hard and deserve the recognition they are now receiving. We look forward to continuing our support and we hope to assist in the further development and expansion of Saladworx.”
Business Gateway provides practical help, advice and support for new and growing businesses in Scotland.
To find out more about how it can help you set up and develop your own business visit www.bgateway.com or call 0845 609 6611. Alternatively call your local office directly on 01863 766128.