How A Woman Drives A Spicy Business In Switzerland
Tania Woodhatch is a businesswoman from Kloten with a big heart for the less fortunate. She co-founded and operates a spice company that produces and distributes herbs and mixes to more than 50 retailers online and throughout Switzerland.
Recently, Tania spoke with SUISSEPIC about how WÜRZMEISTER has transformed itself from a hobby to a successful enterprise, and the role that love plays in this story.
Photo: Tania Woodhatch
SUISSEPIC: What do you do?
Tania: I am the Co-Founder and CEO of WÜRZMEISTER, a social enterprise based in Kloten. Apart from the production of spice mixes, I manage almost all other issues of the business. We provide work for about 6-8 people with severe physical or psychological problems. We also provided a commercial apprenticeship (KV-Lehrstelle) to a 19-year-old who had to break off from two previous apprenticeships because of an extremely difficult family situation.
We work and live in a flat, and these individuals appreciate the relaxed family atmosphere. While the production of the spice mixes occurs in the basement, the labeling and packaging is done in our flat.
SUISSEPIC: What do you produce and where do you distribute your product(s)?
Tania: We produce and stylishly design more than 50 different types of spice mixes, ranging from herbs and curries to spicy mixtures. While more than 50% of our turnover is business-to-business (B2B), several companies in Switzerland buy our products as gifts for their customers or employees. We also have several different branding options.
SUISSEPIC: What sparked your idea for this business?
Tania: My husband was unable to work due to a severe accident that he experienced when he was 19 and has been in social institutions ever since his accident (17 years). He loves to cook and make spices. So, we thought it would be a nice hobby for him that would allow him to be creative and a master in his own right.
We actually never planned to start a company. My husband just started grinding spices, mixing them, and giving them away. Everyone just loved them and asked if they could buy them somewhere. Since my husband has never worked and does not have a lot of business experience, that is where I come into play. I have always loved giving people a chance in life, especially those who do not seem to fit in anywhere.
Photo: Tania Woodhatch
SUISSEPIC: What geographical area(s) does your business serve?
Tania: We have an online store, as well as around 50 retailers across the whole of Switzerland that sell our spices. We also have a partner in Germany with an online store that acts as a distributor for all of Germany. We currently do not export to other countries, yet.
SUISSEPIC: How do you develop and set goals?
Tania: Businesswise, I just know what needs to be done in order for me to grow and earn a living wage every day. In 2015, I initiated a brainstorming event with a branding/strategy expert, as well as with some friends and people that I appreciate for their different perspectives. After that, I met the same expert a couple more times to fine-tune everything. Since then, that has been my guideline. I do not have any short-term goals, only long-term ones. I also act somewhat naturally on them. As a result, we have had strong growth over the last few years (mostly between 15-25%). This year has been one of the strongest that we have experienced in the history of our enterprise.
Photo: Tania Woodhatch
SUISSEPIC: What brought you to Switzerland?
Tania: While I was originally born in England, my family decided to move to Switzerland when I was 5 years old. My father is English, and my mother is half-Norwegian with a bit of Swiss and German heritage. So, I’m quite a “cocktail”.
SUISSEPIC: What is your favorite Swiss city and why?
Tania: I once lived in Basel and I loved it there. It’s such a multicultural city, and yet it’s somehow “small”. It’s also nice to be near the German and French borders.
SUISSEPIC: What does success mean to you?
Tania: I would say success is having people come to use in order to have more stability and increase their self-esteem. After a while, they feel at home and more comfortable around us, require less medication, manage to sleep better, and cope better with stressful situations. Of course, having happy customers that love our spice mixes, appreciate our social commitment, and recommend us to friends also pleases me very much.
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