Discover the Story Behind Saltbird: Interview with Rachel Blanchard.
In this inspiring interview, Angela sits down with Rachel Blanchard, the creative mind behind Saltbird, a company renowned for its exquisite range of salts. Rachel shares the inspiring story of how her recovery period led her to discover the world of flavoured salts and embark on a journey to create her own unique blends.
From humble beginnings at a local market to becoming a beloved brand in the foodie community of Orange, Rachel's passion for quality ingredients and her commitment to supporting local producers have made Saltbird a true success story.
Angela: It's great meeting you, Rachel.
Rachel: Yeah, nice to meet you too
A: So basically we just want to know more about your brand, Saltbird, and how you came about producing such a beautiful range of salts.
R: Well, I was recovering from a minor operation when a friend of mine bought me a Gourmet Traveller magazine to read. As I was flipping through it, I came across an article about new food trends from Europe. One of the trends mentioned was flavoured salt. So, I started thinking about it and realised that it was actually a good idea.
A: Well, it is a good idea.
R: My dad has the most amazing garden, so I started getting him to bring me in some herbs and things and I started, you know, looking at making up recipes and that sort of thing while I was stuck at home. And then my kids who went to a beautiful little rural school, called Ashdale, they were having their first market. And so they were calling on parents to have a stand.
I'd been giving my experiment out to friends to try and one of them said, well, why don't you just do that? So I'm like, Oh, okay.
I thought I'll give that a whirl for one market and see where we go. And so I quickly cobbled together my little logo, name, little packages, made up some labels and off I went to the market!
A: That's amazing because that part often takes so long when you're actually starting a business.
R: It was very quick. The logo is literally a little hand drawn bird. Which is coloured in and then scanned into the computer.
Saltbird Packaging | Country Culture
A: I love it.
R: And so, by the time I had finished that market, I thought, well, maybe I am onto something here. So when it came time for me to return to work, I discussed it with my partner and said, well, you know, give me three months. Let's try it for three months and see what happens.
During those three months, I had a wonderful conversation with M and J Butchers. They were happy to stock it. So it went into their store, and then I spoke to the people at the Orange Farmers Markets. I managed to secure a spot there, which was fantastic.
And that's how the ball started rolling.
A: Well, I suppose Orange is such a foodie sort of centre and more and more people, you know, are in that industry. So, and I feel like everybody wants to help each other.
R: Absolutely. It's the most supporting, amazing community. It really is. It's been 14 years now.
A: So that's huge.
R: Yeah, it's been quite a long time. And to go through that journey with all the other people who are, you know, starting up their new businesses and in fact, we have our market just out here. Monthly. So, yeah, it's, it's a lovely, lovely community to be a part of.
A: So, where do you source all the mushrooms and all the different herbs for your salts?
R: I grow a lot of the herbs, and my dad helps me with that too. And I do have a lot of very generous people that when my supply isn't looking so great, they can help me. I grow the kaffir lime and the rosemary and all that sort of thing, and I buy the other products in locally where I can and otherwise, you know, some of the spices I just have to buy wholesale.
Saltbird salt | Saltbird
A: Oh, look, at the end of the day, when there's an excess in the market or when something is abundant, people are generally happy to donate it, right?
R: And that's another one of this community sort of spirited things where people just love to help each other out, which is great.
A: So, who buys your product? What sort of person? Is it restaurants?
R: No, it's mainly for home use. I have quite a few lovely regular customers through the markets. And the rest of it is stockists, so wholesale, shops, butchers, hamper companies. Yes. And a really great one is a sophisticated cocktail.
A: Oh, yes, that's great.
R: And they do the kaffir lime and chilli for that, which is really great. So yeah, it's quite varied, but a lot of wholesale as well as direct.
A: Oh, that's unbelievable. And just one last thing. Why do you like being involved in sort of putting your product into hampers like ours at Country Culture?
R: Because you never know where they're going.
Local Condiments Gift Hamper | Country Culture
A: Yeah, that's so true, isn't it?
R: That's what's so wonderful about it. You know, sometimes I'll see people who've travelled from all over, and they'll come to the markets, and they'll go Oh, hang on a minute. I got your salt in a hamper. And it's like, oh, there you go.
Through experimentation, sourcing ingredients from her father's garden, and the incredible support of the Orange community, Rachel has transformed her love for flavoured salts into a thriving business. Saltbird's salts are not only known for adding flavour to dishes but also embody the spirit of community and collaboration.
Stay tuned for more exciting stories and interviews on our blog as we continue to uncover the remarkable individuals behind unique and inspiring creations in the world of food and beyond.
If you're interested in trying Rachel's delicious salts, among other picks from inspiring producers, find them here.