What was your highlight of 2014?EM: My personal highlight was probably Glastonbury festival. It’s one of the best festivals in the world. I was lucky enough
Resident Spotlight: Atlantic Kitchen
2014 was a big year for Atlantic Kitchen, so we decided to sit down with them to discover the emerging world of seaweed
Atlantic Kitchen was set up in 2012 by two friends who believe that the best tastes in life are wild and that the most wonderfully wild tastes of all can be found in the pure waters of the Atlantic Ocean. On a beautiful sunny day, we headed to Netil360 to chat with the Netil House residents and discover what 2015 has in store for their brand, as well as some of their major milestones so far.
NH: So how did the idea from Atlantic Kitchen come together?
AK: Our story is of two friends with a shared conviction of eating wild. In 2012 Dawn went home to the South coast of Ireland to spend time with her family. As a child on the Irish coast her grandmother had cooked with seaweed so she was aware of the beneficial nutritional properties of sea vegetables. On seeking it out she was astonished by how hard it was to find a well-produced seaweed brand. On returning to the UK, Dawn brought her friend Ruth on board to launch The Atlantic Kitchen and fill the gap that she saw in the market.
NH: So, first it was kale, now word on the street is seaweed will be the next big thing? How do you feel about food trends ebbing and flowing like this?
AK: It's definitely true that we now have lots of food fads coming and going. The difference is kale isn't a brand, but Atlantic Kitchen certainly is. People have a passion for health and something new, hence the crazy rise of kale, and also brands like Vita Coco which started as a drink I only ever saw around when I was doing yoga...now it's everywhere!
2 years ago nobody knew about Seaweed in the mainstream food world. What people know now is what we've taught them. Getting past what you might think of something like seaweed, and realising it's a magnificent flavour enhancer and lifts all manner of dishes simple dishes like pasta.
NH: Have you come across people with reservations towards eating seaweed?
AK: Definitely. But what we've found is that it's not a specific feeling of not liking it, like people often get with pickled things. When it comes to seaweed it's all about curiosity. We know 99% of people like them, it's just a case of educating the people. It's becoming the best thing about our product, curiosity is our biggest route into peoples kitchens.
NH: Things have really been picking up of late, will you have to change anything to scale your business?
AK: No we wouldn't have to change for scale. Every budding entrepreneur sees their idea going massive of course, and i see seaweed becoming a part of everybody's lives. I feel like it's happening already, and if we can keep pushing it along with our brand, that's amazing.
Getting into a supermarket is always a goal to have, but the numbers are crazy, which makes it too diffcult to scale that quickly for a small business. But for us, and other business like us, you quickly realise you don't need to be in there, it's not the only route.
People have less time to shop that's for sure. Gone are the days of the big family weekly shop when you spend £100 a go. Our generation buys dinner on the day they eat, we're a great product for this new generation of people who don't shop in big supermarkets, we're quick, simple and easy.
NH: You've done sampling days at stores such as Selfridges in the past, how important do you feel it is for a start-up food business to get that face-to-face interaction with potential new customers?
AK: It's been pivotal for our strategy and really supported our growth, we've been sampling there every week for awhile now. Basically, it's our central marketing function aside from online, as well as the best way to get that customer feedback. Not so long ago, we discovered that our packaging wasn't communicating enough, due to feedback from sampling. So we switched things up and people have really started connecting with the new packaging style. That kind of feedback is priceless really.
NH: Back in March you were kind enough to offer free lunch to all residents of Netil House, how did they go down?
It was amazing. I think they lasted all of about 12 minutes. Netil House is a great audience for us, as it's full of innovators and early adopters. It was great to see everyone smiling and eating seaweed, plus we we got a series of nice tweets and a card that simply said "just so you know, it's all amazing!"
NH: What are your plans for your brand and your signature seaweed soups this year?
AK: A big piece of breaking news is that we're launching in Ocado, that feels pretty special. Beyond that it's all about soups this year, establishing ourselves fully in the health food world. Towards the end of the year we're planning on making our first steps in the multiples, launching new ranges etc, so it's full steam ahead!
This week heralds some exciting news in the world of Atlantic Kitchen, as their range of soups are now stocked in Planet Organic and Wholefoods! The nearest Planet Organic to Netil House and Hackney Downs is on Essex Road and here are the others - http://www.planetorganic.com/storelocator/ Be sure to grab some seaweed goodness from Atlantic Kitchen's online store.