Hello. Welcome to
From small seeds…
Welcome to Norwich Mustard. We’re a community benefit society, owned by people who want to retain mustard production in the city.
Everyone is sad that Colman’s Norwich factory is closing. Mustard has been made in Norwich since 1858. This EDP report tells the story.
More than 180 people supported a crowdfunding campaign that has allowed us to set up and prepare our business plan. Later, there will be a community share issues. This will give everyone the chance to own shares in Norwich Mustard.
To give you a taste of what is to come, we are having a pilot batch of wholegrain mustard made for us. This will use imported mustard grain and be made in Suffolk. We have mustard being grown for us here in Norfolk and later this year, we hope to start production on a modest scale in the city of Norwich.
We think that you will love Norwich Mustard. It will taste good and prove with every mouthful that community owned business really can cut the mustard.
Norfolk has a rich tradition of bucking the trend and doing things differently. Norwich Mustard is of course an example of that. We want to go one better than to simply retain Norwich making in Norwich. People in Norwich loved Colman’s because they cared for the community within which their mustard was produced. They did much more than provide jobs, building housing, funding healthcare and providing education to families of their workforce.
Norwich Mustard, as a community owned enterprise, will play its part in making Norwich a better place to live and work. We are planning to employ those furthest from the job market, helping them develop skills and experience that will help them secure jobs and rebuild their lives.
We also hope to open a Norwich Mustard shop, perhaps on Norwich Market in the heart of the city.
The story of mustard production in Norwich is in many ways the story of British enterprise. A Victorian family firm that did much more than provide jobs, Colman’s, along with Cadbury, Salt and Lever providing housing, schools and health support for its workers. That’s why Colman’s is so loved in Norwich. It’s why people will be so sad to see it leave.
Over time, most of these family firms became part of large corporates. The economies of scale, access to investment and the ability to reach new markets made this the right thing to do at the time. The products retain their integrity and value, but the rich tradition of community support too often gets lost.
But the 21st century is seeing a return to community led business. Norwich Mustard is an example of that. We plan to work with schools to help young people learn about how business is evolving. We will of course also be helping young people learn about growing, preparing and using mustard!
We’ll soon have a range of products for you to sample.
Our plan is to name each after a famous Norwich heroine from history. Norwich has a tradition of producing women who change the world, which of course is what we are setting out to do too.
If you’d like to stay up to date with our products as they are developed, sign up here for our regular bulletins.
Buy Norwich Mustard
You will soon be able to order Norwich Mustard and have it delivered to your door. As well as our range of mustards, we’re planning to sell Norwich Mustard merchandise. Like the Norwich heroines who have inspired us, we are determined to play our part in making Norwich a better place to live and work.
We’re already talking to retailers who will stock our range of Norwich Mustard. If you don’t see Norwich Mustard in your favourite shop, ask them to stock it. We don’t want anyone to miss out!
Join the Norwich Mustard Club
We want you to enjoy Norwich Mustard. Join the Norwich Mustard club and receive a monthly jar of Norwich Mustard, a recipe from a Norfolk chef and a surprise gift. Membership will cost just £5 per month. Sign up here for your invitation to join the Norwich Mustard Club which launches in October 2018.
Have you got a shop? Or perhaps you run a restaurant or pub? Norwich Mustard can add a special something to any dish and we know it’s going to become very popular. Mustard can also be used to flavour a range of foods, for example chocolate. If you want to stock, or use Norwich Mustard we want to hear from you.
Inspired by Edith Cavell
Flavoured with horseradish, this is the mustard soldiers would have enjoyed in the Great War. Inspired by Norwich born nurse Edith Cavell, remembered for helping soldiers from both sides of the conflict.
Inspired by Elizabeth Fry
We’ve decided to launch with a traditional, no nonsense blend of mustards, inspired by Elizabeth Fry. Born in the centre of Norwich she campaigned for better conditions in our prisons.
Inspired by Harriet Martineau
A mustard made famous by Colman’s, our unique blend is inspired by Norwich born Harriet Martineau, who was a feminist, sociologist and novelist, decades before women won the right to vote.
Robert Ashton and Steve Morphew meet and talk about how good it would be to set up Norwich Mustard. News that Colman’s is leaving Norwich had provoked a lot of unhappiness.
We launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund our set up and business plan. This was matched by a £6,000 grant from Power to Change. The campaign was supported by 184 people.
The conversations started. We met some farmers interested in growing for us and obtained some mustard seed, which our friends at John Innes Centre in Norwich tested to make sure it would grow.
Some trial plots of both brown and white mustard were sown on a research farm near Wymondham. The crop from this will give our growers seed for the 2019 season. Some we hope will be processed to produce a locally grown collectable first edition Norwich Mustard.
The community benefit society is legally formed. Now we exist. Our co-founder Robert Ashton is invited to join a panel of social entrepreneurs advising Power to Change. This will help others follow in our footsteps and perhaps save more famous brands from disappearing.
Our plans to open a pilot plant within the walls of Norwich Prison start to take shape. We’re excited to think we might be able to both make superb mustard, and help offenders gain skills that can help them get jobs when they are released. Elizabeth Fry would be proud.
Our first batch of Norwich Mustard, made for us by friends in Suffolk, will be available for tasting. We hope to give everyone who’s supported us so far a jar.
By summer we expect our long term plans to be taking shape nicely. We can’t say exactly what is planned, but do keep in an eye open for developments.
When a social entrepreneur and politician get their heads together, you never quite know what will happen. In this case, over a coffee in the Forum, the seed was sown that has grown into Norwich Mustard.
It all started with a conversation. Steve Morphew and Robert Ashton were discussing the anger people were expressing at the announcement of Colman’s closure. “Why don’t we start a new company” said Steve, “and call it Norwich Mustard”.
As a social entrepreneur Robert quickly saw the potential. He posted this video on LinkedIn to see what people thought of the idea. 5,000 people viewed it over the first weekend.
This impressing response spurred Robert on. A third founder was recruited, Chris Herries, who like Steve is a local politician.
The EDP picked up the story, as did the BBC.
A successful crowdfunding campaign raised almost £14,000, which included a £6,000 grant from Lottery funded Power to Change. We’re overwhelmed that 184 people contributed to the campaign. Some Colman’s pensioners also heard about us and are providing us with expert help.
We are also hugely grateful to Pinewood Studios based Mustard PR and Norwich firm Grit Digital. Both are helping us on a pro bono basis. Both can see the potential and with their help, we are confident we will succeed.
Norwich Mustard is already attracting national publicity with Robert interviewed by Radio Four’s Eddie Maier for iPM. You can listen to the interview here.
If you’d like to stay up to date with the Norwich Mustard story, sign up here for our regular bulletins.
There will be a community share issue in early summer. This will raise the capital we need to create jobs and produce mustard in Norwich. The share prospectus and business plan will be available here for you to download when the share issue launches.
Right now you need to know that:
We will be a community benefit society
Which means our profits are reinvested in our work, although we do hope in time to pay dividends to our shareholders.
Each shareholder has one vote
At our Annual Meeting, to which all will be invited, each shareholder has one vote.
Your investment should qualify for tax relief
The share prospectus will explain how.
A convenience store in Norfolk has boosted its monthly sales of condiments by £76 after it began selling products from local supplier Norwich Mustard.
Itteringham Village Shop has sold 24 jars of the £3.20 mustards since it began stocking them last month. Shop volunteer Mike Hemsley told RN the appeal has been down to the brand’s provenance. “Customers have been buying the products because of the local appeal and they prefer them over the traditional Dijon mustards. They’re keen to support the venture and we’ve been meeting regularly with the brand’s owner to keep stock levels up.”
Article written by Olivia Hanks. Click here to see the original article.
Sowing seeds for a Quaker new economy
A Quaker entrepreneur has turned his hand to mustard-making. Olivia Hanks looks at how the business is part of a new economy informed by Quaker ethics.
In 2015, dozens of Quakers from around the country contributed to the creation of 10 principles for an new economy rooted in Quaker values of equality, truth, simplicity and peace.
Since then, more than 60 local reading groups have formed to discuss aspects of the economy with the help of a series of booklets we produced.
But what does ‘building the new economy’ mean in practice? It might sound a bit abstract, but in fact many Friends are already involved in local initiatives that put the principles into practice, from community gardens to repair workshops.
At the heart of the new economy is the principle that economic activity should boost wellbeing, not just profit margins. In the dominant economic system, public limited companies trade their shares in the market. Those who buy shares and own a publicly-traded company usually have no interest in it beyond what it can earn for them. Disregard for the wellbeing of people, nature and communities is built into this economic model.
The unhappiness that this economy creates has led to the growth of cooperatives and a wider ‘social economy’ – a collective term for organisations which exist to pursue goals other than private profit.
Owned by their workers, residents or customers, cooperatives are a highly democratic form of business ownership, run on seven core principles: open membership, democratic member control, member economic participation, autonomy, education, cooperation among cooperatives, and concern for communities. Various studies have found them to be more resilient than privately-owned businesses in times of economic crisis.
So what role are Quakers playing in this growing movement for change?
Case study: Norwich Mustard
Norwich Quaker and entrepreneur Robert Ashton has long been a fan of cooperatives. When it was announced last year that iconic Norwich mustard firm Colman’s – which was bought by Unilever in 1995 – would be moving production out of the city, he decided to act.
“Norwich people were angry and upset about Colman’s closing,” he says, “so I decided to do something to convert that anger into positive action.”
Along with a local councillor, Robert founded Norwich Mustard, in order to keep mustard production in Norwich after Colman’s leave.
A crowdfunding campaign to fund the start-up was supported by 184 people, many of whom posted messages of support. “What a great idea. I fully support keeping mustard production in Norwich as part of our heritage,” wrote one supporter. Another explained: “As Bracondale residents who live in a house once owned by Colman’s we well appreciate the heritage of this industry in the city. Good luck with your enterprise.”
Norwich Mustard is a community benefit society, which means that every shareholder will have equal say, however many shares they own. A pilot run was outsourced and test-marketed at retailer House of Fraser in July, and more than 250 jars were sold. A community share issue is planned for the autumn, allowing supporters of the enterprise to become co-owners.
The first jars of Norwich Mustard carry a picture of Elizabeth Fry – another Norwich Quaker, best remembered for her work as a prison reformer. And this is no coincidence, as Robert explains.
“Norwich Mustard will be produced inside Norwich Prison, providing valuable pre-release work experience to prisoners nearing the end of their sentence. There’s a stack of evidence that this reduces the risk of re-offending and I’m all for helping those others would prefer to forget.”
A taste of the future
Next year should see Norwich Mustard open a mustard heritage centre in a disused city centre church. Here visitors will be able to see how mustard is made, learn about the history of mustard making in Norwich, and taste the product in a themed café.
Robert says that while Norwich Mustard is not officially a Quaker enterprise, “it is very much managed with the testimonies in mind. Collective ownership provides a very real alternative to the corporate structures that prevailed in the 20th century and there is a real resonance between cooperative principles and Quaker testimonies.
“I’m determined to make Norwich Mustard simple, honest, equal – and to focus public anger into something more constructive than knocking Unilever.”
Dozens flock to get a first taste of Norwich Mustard on Norfolk Day
Dozens of people who backed a campaign for a new Norwich-made mustard have had their first taste on Norfolk Day.
Norwich Mustard has been selling its first batch at a special pop-up shop at the entrance to House of Fraser in Norwich.
Co-founder Robert Ashton said the condiment had received “a fantastic response” from shoppers.
“People are saying thank you for having set up Norwich Mustard. It’s awesome to hear.
“They’re coming in here and trying it for the first time, and they like it. It tastes good, it’s a heritage brand and it ticks all the right boxes.”
Mr Ashton said he was expecting to sell out of the 600-jar batch before the pop-up shop closes on Sunday, including the 80 for the social enterprise’s crowdfunding backers.
Craig Strivens, service manager at House of Fraser in Norwich, said the store had been keen to help local businesses as part of its Norfolk Day involvement.
He added: “When I heard about Norwich Mustard I contacted Robert to see if we could help.
“People have been coming all day, and they aren’t just buying one jar – they’re buying two or three.”
Norwich Mustard was founded as a social enterprise by county councillor Steve Morphew and Mr Ashton earlier this year, in the wake of Colman’s decision to leave its historic home in the city.
We could not establish Norwich Mustard without the help of those who have supported us, especially those who supported our crowdfunding campaign. Here are links to some who have helped us and we hope, can help you, should you be setting out to create your own enterprise.
Help, advice and a wealth of information from the network for Britain’s thousands of coops.
The largest crowdfunding platform in Britain. Its fees are reasonable and the advice they give you as you set up and run your campaign, invaluable.
A charitable Trust set up in 2015 with a £150m endowment from the Big Lottery Fund. The people to talk to when you need inspiration, advice or even a grant.
The go to people for advice on setting up a food or rural business. They have supported more than 350 community owned shops and pubs.
A creative PR team who like mustard so much they’re helping us for free!
A Norwich based creative team who like to “do different” online. They backed our campaign and are helping us spread the word about Norwich Mustard.
All you ever wanted to know about cooperatives right here in Norwich. They can help you turn your idea into action.
These guys produced the videos of Robert on his tractor talking about Norwich Mustard.
Robert does much more than just lead Norwich Mustard. He’s a social entrepreneur, author and conference speaker too.