Tag Archive for: Business Profiles

Foxy Boxy

As we get very close to Christmas and the annual struggle to find the perfect gifts for people we care about, there are lots of local options, be it wine or gourmet treats to enjoy over a few days I think a food and beverage gift is a lot better than a trinket that will never be used.

If you’re not sure what to buy the local gift box business Foxy Boxy is here to help. Last week I caught up with owners Melissa and Charlie Evans to find out just what they can do to help you find the perfect gift for everyone this Christmas that showcases local Nelson products.

As Charlie says “we cater to a wide range of gift givers, from businesses who want to give something to staff or clients as well as individuals looking for something special”, but a big part of their business right now is people sending gifts to family and friends in Auckland. “With Covid and families not being able to visit one another people are sending lots of gifts, people want to stay connected so there’s lots of ‘keep your chin up’ type messages.”

Charlie and Melissa met in Auckland and, as all young Kiwis do, headed off to explore the world, travel and have adventures overseas. While living in Canada, Melissa was looking for something to send to her mother in New Zealand, “I wanted to buy a gift for my mum that was just a wee bit special with something that was a real treat for her but I couldn’t find a gift box suitable for her at the quality I wanted.”

This is how the idea for Foxy Boxy was born. “Because I couldn’t find anything that ticked the quality and presentation boxes, we saw an exciting business opportunity which we could do really well when we returned to New Zealand. With our backgrounds in graphic design, e-commerce and marketing, we knew we had the skillset to create an awesome business.”

When they set up Foxy Boxy they knew that to be successful in a competitive gift-giving market they had to focus on three key things; firstly the quality of the product had to be excellent, without compromise. Secondly the design of the products and gift packaging had to be both enticing and scream quality and finally their service had to be exceptional.

Melissa says it’s important to have premium products that also looked stunning when the box was opened. “The look of every product is important and how it’s presented it is vital. ”

Melissa told me one part of their success is that they are really fast on delivering gifts, “We use our courier partner’s express overnight service which enables our gifts to be delivered as fast as possible throughout NZ, this is really important.”

Hogarth’s Chocolate is just one of the many tasty treats packed into some of the gift boxes on offer.

Many of their gift box options have local products as well as premium products from other regions. “We test all our products and we only select products that wow us. If they don’t wow us they won’t wow the gift recipient and we want people to be really excited when they receive the gift.

“A lot of thought goes into preparing the gifts, we think of it as a curated gift box rather than filling a box with void-fill (tissue paper) with some stuff from the supermarket, our boxes are full of product. We don’t use any box fillers and have between three & twelve products in each box. When people receive it they keep finding more the deeper they dig. We make sure it’s a fun experience for people.”

“A lot of our customers in Auckland love the fact we stock premium South Island products. Many of them have visited the Nelson region so it’s also a reminder of places they have enjoyed visiting. We are perfectly positioned in Nelson to be able to source fantastic products that can be delivered to us quickly by our suppliers and for us to ship around the country.”

McCashin’s Single Malt Whisky

Melissa and Charlie think their suppliers are the best in New Zealand and they work with a range of fantastic local suppliers like Hogarth’s Chocolate, Eddyline Brewery, Yum Granola, Dancing Sands Gin and Living Light Candles. (check the suppliers page on their website).

One really important local product for Foxy Boxy is a Royce McGlashen mug with a heart on the side, “they make it exclusively for us and we sell heaps of them” says Charlie. “Royce loves working with people who want something special and it’s always a pleasure to go and see them.”

Some of their most popular gift boxes are the wine and nibbles gift and the gin tasting gift box but they also create a range of special seasonal boxes. Melissa told me “Our Christmas Eve gift boxes are really popular. They are designed to open on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day, if you have a family of kids this is the anticipation gift for them.”

Last year people in Dubai bought them as gifts for family in New Zealand and asked us to make sure we have them this year because they are one of the best things they bought.”

The youngest members of the Foxy Boxy team are Melissa and Charlie’s 2 kids, Sophia (12) and Nicky (9). “We love getting the kids involved and teaching them about running a business. Box folding and ribbon cutting make a great holiday job, but their favourite part is definitely taste testing our delicious products”.

To find out more and give the perfect gift as a thank you, get well or celebration check out www.foxyboxy.nz

Published in the Nelson Mail 03-11-2021

Salvito’s Pizza Bar

When John Esposito opened a pizza bar named after his two sons (Salvi and Vito) he was determined to bring authentic Italian flavours that reflect his family’s heritage and he has done exactly that with spectacular success. The pizzas at Salvito’s are wonderful.

The Esposito name will be familiar to many Nelsonians, the family is part of the ‘Little Italy’ group of immigrants who established market gardens on The Wood four generations ago and who made the successful transition to living life in New Zealand with shear hard work. It’s fair to say the strong work ethic has rubbed off on the latest generation of Esposito’s, even if they no longer grow tomatoes in The Wood.

I have known John for more years than I care to remember and have watched the various businesses he established and owned flourish, businesses that have brought a touch of Italy to Nelson. He was one of the original investors who set up Mediterranean Foods in the region some 20 year ago, starting with a store on Halifax St before expanding into supplying Mediterranean food products to cafes and restaurants across the top of the South Island.

After selling the retail shop (now Prego and Comida) he and his business partner focused on growing the wholesale and distribution side before he eventually sold his shares to focus on his involvement in the tourism industry in Christchurch. We all know that when Covid hit last year, tourism was significantly affected across the whole country and as John says “we had to do something else to make a living – and fast.”

However this isn’t his first stint making pizzas, he was instrumental in establishing a wood fired pizza oven at the Italian Club in lower Trafalgar St and cooked up traditional food for their Friday night pizza nights where he worked as a volunteer for a loyal following of locals for some 12 years.

With his background in Mediterranean foods, his Italian heritage and pizza making experience it’s no wonder he and his sons have got the perfect recipe for tasty food at Salvito’s.

And it’s the food that people keep going back for. As testament to what people think of the pizza’s at Salvito’s just look at the five-star reviews they have on Google, Trip Advisor and Facebook – a perfect five-star record across all three platforms. “We don’t take these wonderful reviews for granted and do everything we can to maintain this standard” says John.

I wanted to know why the food is so good, “it starts with the very best ingredients we can source and then we take time to use traditional methods to make the pizzas.

“For example, we use Italian Caputto 00 flour from Naples and it takes a two-day slow rise to get the dough ready for baking. It has a 60% water hydration, and proves for 24 hours before we shape it into balls, and prove again for another 24 hours before its ready. It’s been a steep learning curve because water content, yeast, humidity, and oven temperature all play a part and we want to make it perfect, every time.

“We are committed to our food being authentic, introducing recipes and flavours we grew up with and are based on traditions that came from Italy 100 years ago. The flavours we have today might not be so common in modern Italy for example, but more based on our family heritage from those early immigrants.”

Lisa Molnar, (John’s cousin who helped a lot in the establishment) says it’s the simple things that last the test of time, for example “the pork sausage we make is made the same way our great grandfather would have made it and begins with a whole shoulder of pork that is hand cut on the premises, then ground, and mixed with spices. Some of the ingredients you can get on the banks of the Maitai River like our grandparents did, we aren’t allowed to do that now because of food regulations but the essence of using traditional ingredients is paramount.

“The flavour is the same as it was when being cooked when we were kids, we had tomato gardens and tomatoes were always being cooked and bottled. Like then, we add extra virgin olive oil to give our tomato real sauce depth, then garlic, basil and traditional seasoning.”

John says “the focus is on sourcing the very best ingredients including, oils, tomatoes, and specialty products. Lisa helped us experiment with various combinations to match the flavours of toppings for each different pizza, then add specially chosen cheeses to match.

“Our importer brought a mountain of ingredients to Nelson specifically to trial and we spent four days playing with old familiar flavours. Things like Truffle paste, Nduja paste, Gorgonzola and Taleggio cheeses, Friarelli, and Mortadella; it was amazing.

“We even grate our own parmesan cheese; we buy Italian Parmesan wedges that have been cut from a wheel and grate it ourselves rather than buying a standard pre-grated product that you might find in the supermarket. These touches make a real difference to flavour.”

And working with his two sons Salvi and Vito on this project has been the silver lining for John. “it’s like the fun and adventures we had when the kids were young have just continued on, morphing into a new and exciting era that we are enjoying together. But it can stretch them too and that’s a good thing. My job is to expose them to new challenges and pressure within the business, raising the bar gradually so they can more readily take on things that life throws at them. It’s a wonderful family experience for all of us.”

For me, the pizzas at Salvito’s Pizza Bar are the best in town, totally authentic flavours of Italy but made right here in Nelson.

Published in the Nelson Mail 05.05.2021

Little Nessie Cafe – The Wee Coffee Monster

I love positive people and I don’t think anyone who opens a new café in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic could be described as anything but positive. Gareth and Hayley Lewis decided to do just that and opened Little Nessie Café at the Black Cat shops on Annesbrook Drive in August 2020.

Anyone would think that opening a business during Covid-19 Level 2 would pose the biggest hurdle for their new business; but this was not the case. What they hadn’t counted on was six months of significant road works resulting in road closures right outside their business just four weeks after they opened the doors.

When I caught up with them last week their great attitude and the support from locals means this little business is still on the right track despite the challenges so far. Hayley says “we are surprised and incredibly humbled at the support we have had from so many people but especially our local and regular customers.”

 

This small café appears to have been a very welcome addition to the neighbourhood. Hayley and Gareth offer specialty coffee, a small but mighty menu that that you can enjoy inside, on the small deck or take away. One thing that really struck me about Little Nessie café is the cozy, welcoming atmosphere, it is a place you can just pop into for a quick coffee or linger over a meal or pot of tea.

Little Nessie cafe is an evolution of the food truck the couple ran in Brisbane until the Covid-19 Pandemic hit in March 2020. As Covid cases began to rise in Queensland, the couple decided it was time to come home with their family and just 12 days later they landed in Auckland, arriving two days into level 4 lockdown where they completed two weeks of self isolation before continuing on to Wellington and finally Nelson.

Reflecting on their journey, Hayley says “Having the food truck was great because we got a feel for who we are as a business. In many ways we are grateful for the opportunity Covid-19 allowed us – we were able to take our learnings from the food truck in Brisbane and start over with a more refined offering.”

“We have the staples that reflect who we are, particularly the Scottish Brekky Burger which is the most popular thing on the menu. It includes our homemade Lorne sausage which is like a cultural icon in Scotland, everyone’s mum or nana makes it. You can get a slice in a roll almost everywhere. It has been so popular with our customers people are coming from all over the region asking for ‘square sausage’ or Lorne, so we now sell it packaged for customers to take home.”

Having worked in the corporate world for several years they decided to use the marketing and business skills they have developed over the years to establish their own business. In 2019 Hayley was nearing the end of her maternity leave after having their first child Maisy while Gareth was working as an insurance broker. Feeling uninspired by his day-to-day work and after a particularly tough day in the office, they finally decided to buy their food truck and find something that would make them both excited to go work everyday.

Gareth says “We have always known we wanted to own our own business. We figured a small café would be a great place to start and allow us to spend more time together as a family which we couldn’t in our old roles.”

When it comes to the food they make Hayley says “We know what we like and hope others like it too, we want to be part of the great café culture here.”

“So far the feedback from customers has been great. We are sort of waiting for the negative, hopefully it will never happen, but we have been surprised at how positive everyone is about us and our little business.”

The original Little Nessie food truck has been back on the road in the last few months taking their delicious coffee & food to various events around the region and is available for private hire.

So if you’re looking for a new place to try and want to support a local business that is facing the challenges of Covid-19, road works and whatever else can be thrown their way with a big dose of positivity then pop into Little Nessie Café for a visit. I know this hard-working couple will reap the rewards of self employment, they have a wonderful attitude and make great food. Open from 7.30am to 2pm Monday to Friday and 8am – 12.30pm on Saturdays.

Wine Pick

Neudorf Rosie’s Block Moutere Chardonnay 2019, RRP $45 – 5 stars

When I first tasted this wine I instantly recognised the Neudorf touch. This is a new label for Neudorf Vineyards, the wine is made from 21-year-old organically grown vines on their hillside block and it’s almost difficult to describe, it is simply elegant yet powerful – the classic iron fist in a velvet glove!

The underlying power of the subtle lemon citrus, white peach, softly toasted hazelnuts and delicate ginger spice flavours, the delicate use of oak, tight mineral characters and subtle intensity add up to make this a wine that delivers evolving flavours in the glass and on the palate. It’s a very impressive debut for Neudorf’s latest single vineyard wine. Due to be released next week this is one of the finest wines I have tried to date from the very good 2019 vintage.

Pic’s & Whittakers

A few of the key factors in the success of any business are being able to adapt, innovate and strive for continual improvement, even if you have the market sector cornered, and that is exactly what Pic Picot and his merry band of peanut butter wizards do at Pic’s Peanut Butter World.

The Pic’s story about making peanut butter at home because he thought the commercial stuff was simply awful is very well known but people often forget the risk, thoughtfulness and extensive planning required to build a business the size of Pic’s Peanut Butter into the enterprise it is today.

Let’s be honest, it is just peanut butter, damned fine peanut butter but just peanut butter none the less, it is the dedication to excellence, the branding and marketing that has made this one of New Zealand’s most trusted brands and has provided the springboard to expand the range of products produced by the enthusiastic Pic’s team that shares his dream to create a business that is important to New Zealand, and just happens to be based in the place he calls home, Nelson.

When a new Pic’s product arrives on the shelves everyone is more than happy to try it because we trust Pic and his brand but what we don’t see is the very careful market analysis and product testing that happens before you and I get to buy it.

Making products like almond butter and cashew butter seems like a simple thing to do but there is a lot of planning that goes into the production of these to ensure there’s no cross contamination with peanut products. Then there’s simple things like selling peanut butter ‘slugs’ so you can take the handy little plastic squeeze pouches with you anywhere or even selling it in buckets for those who just can’t get enough of his pure peanut butter – “we only add salt, nothing else”.

Because we live in a region where a large proportion of the world’s boysenberries are grown it seems like common sense to add boysenberry jelly to the range they produce, after all peanut butter and jelly is a classic blend to spread on your morning toast.

Honey is another product that was simple to add, just find a reliable source of premium honey and add the trusted Pic’s brand. Then there’s those who have created products like ice cream and chocolate using Pic’s peanut butter; however, creating a whole new product isn’t easy, especially when you have built a peanut butter brand on having nothing but peanuts and salt in each jar.

The latest product from Pic’s has been created in association with another trusted New Zealand brand, Whittaker’s Chocolate. Pic’s Peanut Chocolate Butter is like a Whittaker’s peanut slab in paste form, and it’s bloody delicious!

When I received a sample of this new product I phoned Pic and told him we needed to talk, the product is ridiculously good so I wanted to know what went in to creating it and getting it to market without compromising his trusted brand. We sat down over a coffee and he told me “it actually started about five years ago so it isn’t something we have jumped into on a whim.

“There had been mutterings in the firm about needing a chocolate peanut butter about 5 years ago so when a Dutch girl came to work for us as an intern and she needed a project we gave her the peanut chocolate butter as a project to research for us.

“She did some work on branding and label design and we made some trial batches and ran a public taste test at a Nelson City market day at the time, the public loved it but I was resistant because I’m a purist when it comes to peanut butter, it’s who we are as a company.

“But the team were keen to do something and kept pushing the idea to me, I just kept my thumb on the hold button for five years rather than pressing go however, I have a fantastic team and I know I need to support them as much as they support me, I trust them and their thoughts around these things and I can’t be autocratic all the time.”

Having Whittaker’s as a co-brand partner was an important part of the decision. “I love the fact they are manufacturers like us, not just a company marketing a product, I want to partner with people who make stuff rather than just selling a product, we also always want to make products that are going to be used rather than being tried once or twice then ending up being pushed to the back of the shelf in the pantry.”

That means a huge amount of effort went into creating the right peanut chocolate butter blend, “we are peanut butter makers first and foremost so it had to be a peanut butter product with a chocolate flavour rather than a chocolate product with a peanut flavour.”

When we talked about the risk of bringing a product like this to market he said of course it’s a risk, “but if we stop taking risks we become boring and that is worse than death. If you didn’t do something different you would never know what the outcome might be and just might miss the golden opportunity.”

As much as I like this new product Pic’s is first and foremost a peanut butter producer this country, and many others around the world, trust so Pic Picot would never let his company do something that will compromise the hard-earned trusted brand stamp.

A top tip from me is to try this delicious peanut chocolate butter spread on a warm croissant for a Sunday morning treat, outrageously decadent!

Published in the Nelson Mail 03-02-2010

HARRY’S FISH SHOP

Howard (Harry) Morris has been a fixture in the Nelson restaurant and food scene for a couple of decades, initially as the chef at The Cut restaurant that he owned with Rob Fanselow then the two of them opened Harry’s in Hardy St before relocating to the top of Trafalgar St.

When Harry sold Harry’s Bar, he wanted to stay in the food industry but not be working the unsociable hours that running a bar and restaurant often involves. When he saw that the fresh fish business on the entrance to Marble Arch Arcade was for sale, Harry could see the opportunity to use his cooking skills to add value to a great little business.

Harry’s Fish Shop is the place you can buy fresh fish as well as beautifully crafted meals ready for you to buy for lunch or take home for dinner.

The fresh seafood comes from the local fisherman he bought the shop from, Andy and Simone Kenton. Harry says, “Andy bought a second boat and felt that looking after the fishing business was going to be enough and decided to sell the shop with an ongoing fish supply in place.

“Andy is one of the few independent local fishermen left in the region; his dad fished, so it’s in the blood and his focus had to be on fishing not running a retail business.”

The fish shop business was built on the quality fish that Andy’s boats catch along with a few other suppliers, including locally speared Butter Fish and Blue Cod from D’Urville Island. The supply of fish is always slightly varied with the weather playing a big part in when and how much fish is available.

“We have another couple of regular suppliers, Mt Cook Salmon and Donna Wells, owner of Finest Kind, and we get smoked fish products from Aqua Fresh who also do the smoking of the Mt Cook Salmon for the shop.”

Not your usual lunch, the house cured salmon with asparagus and potato salad sold at Harry’s. BRADEN FASTIER/STUFF

Harry also has an expanding variety of accompaniments for sale, from fish coatings to dressings and sauces. “This is another part of the business that will be expanding, in time, to offer an assortment of accompaniments to compliment the fresh fish.”

As to the future of the business, Harry says “it is a work in progress I don’t have a set outcome as to where it will end up, retail is very different to hospitality so I’m still learning as we go. There are a lot of options we can offer over time, and I am looking forward to seeing how it all grows. With the stop-start that this year has provided my plans for moving forward slowed a little, but since coming back after lockdown the changes are happening at a good pace.”

He has started preparing dishes available to buy and reheat at home. “There are a few regular items like smoked fish potato-topped pie and different flavoured quiches, some flavours are standard like the salmon and caper or the smoked fish and caramelised onion, but we also produce other flavours depending on our mood on the day.”

The chili salt squid salad has become a popular lunch option for many in Nelson’s CBD. BRADEN FASTIER/STUFF

Recently Harry’s Fish Shop has added a small lunch menu with both hot and cold options “Fish & Chips, Ceviche, Prawn Roll with cocktail sauce and Chili Salt Squid which is still as popular as it was on the menu at Harry’s. Having a blackboard menu enables changes to be made easily.”

Most of the lunch options are cooked and made to order, so there is still a bit of kitchen service happening. “We plan this to make sure we can operate quickly as the lunch break for most people is only 30 minutes and we are already getting pre-ordered lunches, making it easier for us and the customers.”

Harry’s Fish Shop crew Rachael Bastion-Holmes, left, Harry Morris, Nigel Fahey, and Rachel James at the premises in Montgomery Square, Nelson. BRADEN FASTIER/STUFF

Of course, you get great advice when you visit Harry’s Fish Shop, both of his staff have a background working in the hospitality sector, “Rachel spent five years working on fishing boats too so has fantastic fish knowledge while Rachael’s trade has been in hospitality, together they are both very customer focused.”

They are a small but talented team at Harry’s Fish Shop and together they provide great service and knowledge, as well as the high-quality food Harry has delivered in Nelson for many years, every time you visit them in the Marble Arch Arcade on Montgomery Square. www.harrysfish.nz

Emma Heke in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine October 2018

Our client, Emma Heke, is featured in the NZ Lifestyle Block magazine this month. With great photography by Daniel Allen this article tells Emma’s story about making teas from her home in Nelson.

Buy your copy to find out more about this very successful small business making its mark in NZ and click here to enter the NZ Lifestyle Block competition to win 10 packs of delicious Heke Homemade Herbals teas, these teas are favourites in our office.

Nicola’s Cantina

The following article was published in the Nelson Mail earlier this month and features a client of Savage & Savage.

It is a story we think is worth sharing again.

Nicola’s Cantina, or just ‘Nicola’s’ as everyone calls it, has very quickly become a favourite dining spot for food lovers in the region.

Mexican food is the latest craze in dining in other regions around New Zealand but Nicola Cantrick and Ross Coeland have had a love of Mexican food for many years. If you ventured out to Golden Beer Brewery at Mapua you may have seen him cooking up his Mexican inspired treats to enjoy with a beer on the wharf and Cantrick was a partner in the Suter Café before she moved on to establish her own business with Coeland.

When I sat down with them last week I asked ‘why Mexican?’ and not the more traditional café food Cantrick had been producing for many years. She told me ‘I wanted to reinvent myself after six years at the Suter Café, I lived in LA for a while and that is the centre of Mexican food in California, I have always loved the Mexican food style because it is delicious, packed with flavour and is affordable. Mexican food is now recognised as one of the three great culinary traditions in the world, it is so vast in variety with so many nuances, from the crisp taco with a mince filling to the rice filled burrito. People now recognise that the fresh flavours are healthy, it is also a cuisine we have had experience with so it was a pretty easy decision.”

While the first three restaurants Cantrick had were Italian inspired. (Java in the 1980’s in Courtney Place in Wellington, then Salt in Oriental Parade and then, with Katrina, at the Suter Café) She has worked all over the world cooking including setting up a Middle Eastern restaurant in Hong Kong and running a Thai brasserie in Sydney called Lime and Lemongrass, an establishment that was a regular haunt for Sydney’s rich and famous, including the likes of Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Elle McPherson.

She say “while I have no formal training I have worked with very talented people – Margo Henderson who started with me at Java but then went on to become a culinary super star in London with her husband Fergus has been a big inspiration”

Coeland on the other hand is a graphic artist by trade and has always had a passion for hot sauces. He worked for Dr Hot in Christchurch who made hot sauces that have become well know. If you like your sauce fiery then you will probably know the names Mongrel Mouth and Anal Annihilation (you can try them at Nicola’s). He also owned and operated a very well-known and popular salad bar in Christchurch called Rocket so is no stranger to putting smiles on people faces with great food.

Coeland has also spent a lot of time in Mexico where his daughter lives for much the time and is the ‘King of the Grill’ at Nicola’s Cantina. His taste for the super-hot and Cantrick’s taste for the mild, gentle flavours makes the perfect combination to develop a popular menu, it is the fusion of these talents that is the real secret to their success.

Cantrick  says ”we didn’t want it to be just another café, we wanted to create a place people could come and have fun and sometimes there is nothing funnier that seeing a big brave guy coughing and spluttering because he couldn’t handle the heat he added to his food”. “We want people to have fun and because we love feeding people we get huge satisfaction from seeing that”.

Traditional Mexican cantina food is the stuff they love to cook and have just returned from a few weeks in Mexico where they were inspired by so much and have so many ideas they don’t know where to start when it comes to introducing them to their menu here. The plan is to gradually add new and exciting dishes or simply update some of the dishes they currently have to inject the inspiration they got from their trip into the menu here in little old Nelson. Follow them on Facebook tom find out when new treats are added to the menu facebook.com/nicolascantina