A dream turned reality, the idea for Heike Winter’s mustard company first came to her in her sleep.
Fast forward four years later and the German native, who moved to the Isle of Harris with her partner in December 2016, is now on the lookout for her first premises having outgrown her cottage kitchen space.
But its Heike’s Mustheb mustard shack out the front of her home based between Glen in Leverburgh and Glen Kyles on the A859, that is a star attraction for those visiting the area.
Running on an honesty policy where customers can leave cash for the products, unlike many other honesty boxes and shacks located across the country Heike’s takes card.
The mustard shack
“I have a shack on the roadside and that is where I sell the mustard. You’ll find it at 10 Glen Kyles,” she said.
“It is an honesty shack so they can leave cash, but if they want to pay by card, there is a bell built into it and that then rings a bell in my house which means I can then take the card machine out to the shack.
“There’s even a light in the shack so anyone can buy it at any time. It’s basically 24/7. I also sell it in local shops and online, too, but the shack is really special.
Selling her first jar of mustard in September 2017, the business took nine months for Heike to get in motion and she takes pride in knowing every single jar is handmade with the finest of ingredients.
She added: “One batch is 70 jars and while it is a small production, because everything is made by hand, I do use a filling machine, but I label and do everything else by hand.
“I make them all in my cottage kitchen, but it is at the size where I’d like to build or rent a separate building for the mustard operation.”
Passionate about her German upbringing, mustard is a condiment she says she was raised on, and is a product close to her heart.
“I’ve always been passionate about cooking and have always made my own mustard. I never did it professionally and when I lived in Germany I worked in marketing and I was, and still am, a writer,” said Heike.
“All of my skills, on top of my passion, have landed me making mustard. I have seven flavours as well as a Christmas limited edition one. I have so many ideas of flavours I want to try.
“As a German you are raised with mustard and there’s so many different flavours. Being here, I feel like I am on a mission to bring back mustard.
“People either like or hate mustard. But I’ve found I’ve managed to convert those who hate it to liking it because of my different flavours.
“My mustard is very different to English mustard. It’s not because of the flavour, it is the way I make it. I use all organic ingredients – I have lived an organic lifestyle for 30 years – and if you have natural food, it is much better for you. All my products are handmade and not made by machines.
“I use local products in my mustards so my garlic is from The Really Garlicky Company in Nairn and my honey is from The Scottish Bee Company, although my jalapenos and peppers aren’t.
“It is a balancing act I find. I love seeing people use the products in their cooking.”
But Heike’s success hasn’t all been a dream, with her routes to market being tarnished due to Brexit challenges since the UK left the European Union (EU) at the start of the year.
It is no longer financially viable for Heike at this point, however she does hope she can resume exporting to Europe in the future.
She added: “I’ve had some issues getting mustard seeds, especially organic ones, as a result. I contacted the Organic Farmers Association to find out if anyone grew mustard seeds, but I have to import them as no one does.
“Before Brexit it would take seven days for the seeds to get here, my last delivery was delayed and I waited 10 weeks. The rate of transport costs and the additional costs of customs is really strict. I didn’t think it would be as big an issue for me as it has been.
“I started exporting my mustard in 2019 to Poland. I’ve decided not to export since Brexit as I am a one-woman show and there’s so much work to be done around exporting now – it is just too much. I would need to employ someone to look after exporting alone.”
For more information or to purchase the mustard visit www.hebrideanmustard.com.