and how The M'hencha Company a small but perfectly formed Artisan Home Bakery in The Cotswolds came to be:
My name is Sophie and in 2003 I was diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disorder. To be fair looking back I should have seen it coming my lifestyle was hectic juggling career and family, like most of us do but somewhere along the line I turned my immune system on myself.
By the end of 2009 I realised that trying to "have it all" wasn't working. I couldn't look after my family the way I wanted to, be successful and committed in my career and manage a chronic condition. So with a fair amount of trepidation and the hope to create something better I exited corporate world.
The plan was to create a sustainable business, I thought cake would be a good place to start....yet suddenly everyone in the Cotswolds was baking cake! With a lot of persistence and determination along with an unsustainable business plan under my belt I finally came up with what I believed to be a unique proposition. I created my version of M'hencha and after taking it to market for the first time and receiving an extraordinary response I submitted it to the Great Taste Awards. I was utterly overwhelmed to receive 3* and have M'hencha Citrus, Rosewater & Pistachio named as one of the Top 50 Foods in Britain & Ireland 2012. This catapulted M'hencha into the limelight and The M'hencha Company was born.
In 2015 I added an alternative flavour, something that would be the alter ego to the fragrant, fresh notes of the Citrus Rosewater & Pistachio. Taking inspiration from the other flavours of north Africa the orange, cinnamon and date M'hencha came into being. The final recipe was an accidental hero born from a bag of dates splitting in the mix when up against the clock. It turned out to be the best thing that could have happened making the fine tuned recipe punchy and spicy. I submitted this version to The Great Taste Awards where it achieved 3*, Top 50 status AND was awarded the Golden Fork for the South West(also known as the Oscar of the Food industry.)
I continue to keep the business small and specialist, crafting every M'hencha that leaves the kitchen to order. I am a passionate artisan and incredibly proud to be one of many creative Cotswold Foodie businesses. That said I don't have all the expertise to go it alone and no woman is an island!! Here I am with my support team:
SOPHIE BROWNE (Founder & M'hencha obsessive) All M'hencha Baking, Product Development, Admin, Packing, Despatch, Business Development, Website Design, Events Co-ordinator, Product Demonstrator, Event & Market Trader....
Juggles business with motherhood, wifedom and keeping an eye on the vibrant well worn parents.
Eats M'hencha: cake style, citrus, rosewater and pistachio, straight from the oven, torn from the coil, dabbed in pistachio gelato.
PHILIP BROWNE (Business Mentor & Accountant) Official taster, keeps an eye on the M'hencha £, Event Support and occasional Christmas Delivery's.
Juggles M'hencha commitments around his Full time role in life as a Group FD. Father to 3 young adults, step father to my teenage daughter who calls him the wise owl.
Eats M'hencha: Treat size Citrus, Rosewater & Pistachio, warm from the oven for breakfast, with coffee and a killer sudoku on the side.
Jenny Stewart takes all my M'hencha images. She also photographs people, animals and food, along with having significant commercial portfolio. She captures the magic of her subjects in a very intuative way and has been on board since pre M'hencha days.
She shares her life with husband James and border terrier Bill in the heart of the Cotswolds. Bill is a major inspiration along with the countryside surrounding her home all of which gets blipped on a regular basis.
Eats M’Hencha: any way it comes, however her current favourite is a generous chunk of warmed OCD with a couple of scoops of vanilla ice-cream
Natasha Willmore: is responsible for all my branding and is Creative Director at Culpepper & Company and specialising in branding, Corporate Identity, Sales & Marketing, Graphic Design including Brochure, Corporate Literature & Packaging, Book Design, online email marketing, video production, Website design and programming.
Self employed mum to Maisie, wife to Mark (also self-employed), works from home in a ‘Creative Shed' at the bottom of her Cotswold Garden and loves her border terrier dog Watson.
Eats Mhencha: Citrus, Rosewater and Pistachio served warm from the oven with a freshly made coffee. Shares it with clients and colleagues in the creative shed or in the garden when the weather allows. Celebrating with friends and family at special times in their lives (and saves a little morsel for herself … to indulge in when getting creative late at night!).
PamLloyd PR: takes care of getting M’hencha featured in the press. The team has also made it their personal mission to get everyone they meet to try M’hencha; they’ve seen the power of those little pastries! They know a great food product when they see it, and nothing makes them happier than seeing their clients in the media or creating a buzz on social.
PamLloyd PR is based in south west food capital, Bristol and the team of 7 dedicated food lovers spend their days thinking, talking, dreaming about food and drink.
Eat M’Hencha: sharing reluctantly between them a coiled citrus, pistachio and rosewater cake, it must be warm and served with good, strong coffee.