We have teamed up with Tesco Taste Bud to bring you the best new Irish food producers, and tell you all about their products. Today, on Focus Friday we talk to Elaine Lavery one of the creators behind Improper Butter.
Founded by friends Elaine Lavery and Hannah O’Reilly, Improper Butter is a range of garlic and herb cooking butters that melt a pop of flavour through all your favourite dishes. Elaine and Hannah met in UCD when they were studying Business & Law and Commerce. Elaine and Hannah joined forces to develop Improper butter with Elaine as the tastemaster behind the flavour combinations and Hannah as the marketer to manage the brand and the business.
Can you tell us a bit about your product?
Improper Butter combines the purest, grass-fed Irish butter with the freshest herbs and ingredients. We currently have three products in the range – our Real Garlic Butter, which has just been awarded a gold start at the Great Taste Awards 2015; our Garlic, Chilli and Basil butter, which is our favourite; and our Sun Blushed Tomato and Basil butter, which we just launched this summer. Improper Butter is ideal for melting onto perfectly cooked steak, pan-frying with seafood, basting a succulent roast chicken, swirling through pasta, soups and sauces or making the ultimate garlic bread. We are all about eating clean, natural, wholefoods and that what Improper Butter is. For more about the benefits of grass-fed Irish butter see the ‘why butter’ section of our website www.improperbutter.com.
What inspired you to create your product?
The idea for Improper Butter came to us after graduating together from UCD in 2012. Elaine headed off to the French Alps for six months where she worked as a chalet chef and learned the art of combining fresh herbs with creamy butter. Adding this butter to very simple dishes really brought them to life. On her return, we discussed the idea of starting a flavoured butter business together as we both shared a love of fine food and a marketing and business background.
Improper Butter was born and we brought our butter to our first famer’s market in the Summer of 2013.
How has your product evolved since it has launched?
When we started in farmers markets, we experimented with a variety of flavours. Savoury combinations included roast garlic and rosemary; wild garlic, honey and mustard and tarragon, cognac and lemon. Sweet combinations included cinnamon and honey and amaretto and morello cherry. It was quite exciting devising up new recipes in the kitchen week on week. However, when we launched into stores we decided to settle on more accessible flavour profiles, which could be added to a variety of dishes. Our ‘brand identity’ and packaging has also been an evolution. From brown greaseproof paper and twine, to our current high-gloss embossed boxes which really encapsulates the ‘Improper’ brand. We are constantly adapting and evolving the brand. You can never stand still in this business.
Who is your customer?
It has always been our ambition to make Improper Butter accessible to all. Traditionally cooking or ‘compound’ butters as they are know in the industry are the preseve of chefs in upmarket restaurant kitchens. In the past number of years, the average Joe is becoming more interested and knowledgable about food and with that that there has been a big rise in scratch cooking in the family home. It is our intention at Improper Butter to aid this home cook by offering them an easy to use, affordable product which does not compromise on quality or taste.
What tips would you give to someone who is starting out and wants to launch a food-related product/business?
We have been asked this question time and time again and our answer remains the same. Our number one tip is to find a good business partner who shares your vision. As a partnership, we bring different strengths to the business, however our overall vision for the brand’s future is very much alligned. Secondly, we’d say only work with a product that you are 100% passionate about. There is no way to make a quick buck in this business so you want something that you truely believe in and which inspires you for the long haul. Everyday you’re selling and it’s hard to convince others that your product is great if you don’t believe it yourself.
Aside from that, there are many practical tips and we love meeting and helping new food businesses, so get in touch through our website or social media proiles and we’ll happily meet a budding food entrepreneur for a cup of coffee.
Where can you buy this product and how much will it cost?
Find Improper Butter in Tesco Merrion Centre, Dundrum, Bloomfields, Ballybrack, Rathfarnham, Clarehall, Naas Extra and Maynooth. From October 2015 Improper Butter will be availale in 25 Tesco Extra stores nationwide.
For a full list of stockists visit www.improperbutter.com.
Improper Butter Real Garlic Butter – 100g @ eur 2.49.
Improper Butter Garlic Chilli and Basil – 100g @ eur 2.49.
Improper Butter Sunblushed Tomato and Basil – 100g @ eur 2.49.
What does the future hold for your business?
There are two strands. Horizontal and vertical growth. Horizontally, we are about to launch Improper Butter in UK with a listing in a number of high-end food halls in the London area. The UK, Europe and the USA present massive export opportunities for our brand and we are delighted to have the support and expertise of Bord Bia as we embark upon the export journey.
In the ‘vertical’ sense, we are developing some new products for the home (Ireland) market. This includes seasonal and limited edition butters for the next festive period, as well as looking at completely new product sets to add to the ‘Improper’ suite. All in all, very exciting times ahead.
Improper Butter is one of the nearly 70 Irish food and drink producers that have participated in the Tesco Taste Bud programme in partnership with Bord Bia.
To find out more about Improper Butter & Tesco Taste Bud Programme Check Them Out On Social: