Nathalie’s Direct Trade
This is a short version of what we do, in English. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you are interested in more information.
I was born in Sweden. My mother is Finnish and my father comes from Colombia. That was quite an unusual cocktail back in the seventies. Even though I have, more or less, lived my whole life in Stockholm, my ties to my dad’s home village, Icononzo, are very strong. I’ve had a reason to travel frequently to this amazing place on Earth, since my parents divorced when I was six years old, and my father lives in Colombia since then.
My direct trade adventure started when I heard in 2010, that farmers in Icononzo had been encouraged to start cultivating Golden Gooseberry/Physalis for export and then been cheated by the wholesaler who was supposed to buy their harvests. They had to throw away thousands of tons of Physalis and the farmers lost a lot of money. Many of them had taken loans at the bank…. See a videoclip here, where I interview one of the farmers.
That pissed me off, and I wondered how difficult it could be to do something with this berry, such as marmalade for example and just skip the wholesaler and pay the farmer that money instead.
I started to cook marmalade in my kitchen in Sweden. Then I invited friends who know about gastronomy to taste it. I also went to the main gourmet stores in Stockholm to have their opinion. I got thumbs up to 100% and decided to jump off a safe career and start my own business. It has become a vocation, since I have the privilege to know everybody along the chain, from farmers such as don Pedro and his family to Shop Manager Jesper Weidlitz at Urban Deli in Stockholm. I just had to do it.
I was also privileged to get my cousin Erkki Izarra on this journey. He has vast experience from different roles in Advertising Agencies internationally and he quickly grasped the potential of my business idea. Within short we got Jari Salo on board. He is our designer and a true master in all the work he does. I’m so blessed and grateful for having these two guys with me. Together with my husband, Michael, who helps me out with analyzing numbers and cash flows, we are a true dream-team the four of us together.
2011 we launched my story and brand, with Sweden’s first Golden Gooseberry Marmalade. It has been a success story, with almost 40 shops selling it during the first months. During 2013 we launched two new marmalades, made of Lulo (Naranjilla) and Andean Blackberry. 2013 we launched my Gently Dried Organic Fruits. They were awarded the Silver Award for Best New Organic Food Innovation at the Nordic Organic Food Fair 2013, which is the largest Organic Food Fair ever, held in the Nordic Countries. Today we count with about 120 shops around Sweden who buy my products on a regular basis.
The products are designed for a “choosy” target group in Stockholm, who has high expectations on the quality of the product, the story and the design of the packaging. We have got an overwhelmingly positive response and the customer returns and repurchases our products. As Erkki says: “If you can make it in Stockholm, you can make it anywhere”.
For year 2020 we have very exiting plans of how to expand and grow, so we can buy even more fruit from Colombian small farmers and contribute to develop the potential of the Colombian countryside. If you have any ideas, please don’t hesitate to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org