Ben’s hot stuff in Hitchin after spicing up his life with successful chilli business
- Credit: Archant
Owner and founder of Capsicana Chilli, Ben Jackson, now produces and sells chilli sauces, powders, sauces and recipe kits nationally and internationally – to countries as diverse as Hungary and Saudi Arabia.
Former consultant Ben said: “I was working long hours as a consultant in London, commuting from Hitchin, had a young family who I wanted to see more of, and had an idea.
“I’d always had a passion for chillies – my dad loved America and Texas so much he actually lived there, and I lived with him for a while when I was around 18. We used to go on road trips around Texas stopping at these basic, roadside Mexican cantinas run by ex-pats, and eat fantastic food in rustic, authentic settings, which added to my love of chillies.
“Years later, I had an idea to quit my job and start my own business selling chillies. I decided to hand my notice in and do something I was passionate about, started with a £500 loan, went door-to-door selling my stock in Hitchin to places like Halsey’s, cooked sauces and pastes from my kitchin hob – and luckily, it just grew from there.
“I now sell to more than 80 food halls around the country, and my stock is sold in places like Saudi Arabia, and Hungary. It’s great to get tweets from UK expats saying how much they love my chillies in Riadh!
“My largest order has been for £15,000 – which is a far cry from working on a stall in Hitchin market in all weathers.
“But it was a terrific introduction into the world of selling, I learned so much. One of the things I noticed was you need so much energy selling stuff face-to-face. On my best day I sold £450 worth of chillies and on my worst day in Hitchn market I sold £8!
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“But it didn’t dent my passion as I really believed in what I was doing.
“I’ve gone past my young, chest-beating stage, but the hottest chilli I’ve ever tasted was called the bhut jolokia. The first time I tried it was in my kitchen and it was like eating burning hot coals!
“But what I love about it is it tastes amazing – it tastes like dried mango or pineapple.
“It’s been hard work, but I’m lucky to run a business which is also my passion – I love what I do and hope to continue expanding but staying true to my ethos, and true to my customers.”
For more information visit www.capsicana.co.uk.