Imagine ruby red raspberry jam with the perfect balance between tart and sweet. The surprising richness of golden plum jam with a texture made for spreading on homemade bread and toast. Neither lumpy nor runny.
And it’s not just the product that is special, it’s the values of the maker, Vancouver’s Natalie Ferrari-Morton of East Van Jam. Like many local entrepreneurs in the foodie business, she’s committed to expressing her values in the package design, the ingredients, and her relationships with retailers and customers.
It’s a new way of doing business. And a new, more satisfying customer experience. Don’t we all crave that? Better quality, unique design, knowing who makes our food, our clothes, our furniture. Maybe buying a little less but getting so much more for it.
The eclectic neighborhood of east Vancouver is reflected in the clever naming and design of each of the 19 flavors of jam. Raspberry Dandy, St. Claire Plum, Madame Cherry. And how about the Tom Cat Tomato Spread, Baron von Blueberry, and the Duchess of Strawberry – a quick glance tells you that these are far from your usual jams and spreads. Artist Scott Bilstad designed the whimsical labels.
The ingredients – mostly organic, local fruit harvested partly from neighborhood cherry and plum trees. A healthy and tasty 3:1 proportion of fruit to sugar. A focus on the product first and marketing second. A business that has itself grown organically through word-of-mouth. You’ll find it in indie grocery stores like Le Marche St George, recently featured in Anthology, Kinfolk and the New York Times.
The relationships with local indie retailers are based on transparency and honesty and sealed with a handshake. Natalie only commits to supply amounts of jam that she can produce. And when you are making it after hours in a borrowed restaurant commercial kitchen, you stay on top of your supply!
Like for many local foodie entrepreneurs, here in Vancouver and in your town too, for Natalie it’s not necessarily about being the biggest. It’s about making what you love on your own terms. And East Van Jam has found that sweet spot.
Sandra Harris | Vancouver, Canada