What's the story behind your business?
I’ve always had a huge passion for cooking for others and sharing food. It all started with an Indian cookery book my mum got me when I was 14. I tried every single recipe in the book. One day I screwed up the amounts big time and made something almost inedible… except to me. It was then that I started looking further afield for hotter chillies and using anyone close by as a guinea pig. Eventually some childhood friends persuaded me to set up a company and find a bigger audience to share my passion with. It's sort of snowballed from there.
Tell me about your products...
I like to think that I have some very unique flavours as to me this is more important than everything being about the burn. I also pride myself on using only fresh ingredients purchased from local sellers and UK based growers where possible and spend a lot of time creating mutually beneficial relationships with some of the finest independent sources there are in the UK. I tend to create sauces primarily out of personally necessity as want them for a specific purpose. "Brixton" for example is my homage to the vibrant, local community where Lazy Scientist started. It’s a West African styled creamy, tomato and herb based sauce which has a hefty dose of roasted Scotch Bonnet chillies in. I came up with the recipe as I was trying to emulate the Domino’s Pizza Garlic and Herb Sauce, but with a bit of a kick to use as a crust dip! "Mango Reaper" on the other hand came about as I wanted an alternative to the overly sweet, shop bought Sweet Chilli sauces.
What has lockdown / the last year meant for you / your business?
Lockdown has been a really positive time with regard to the hot sauce side of things. It initially gave me the time to finish off my website (lazyscientistsauces.co.uk) that I began well over a year ago and never got a chance to complete. Since launching that I've had pretty steady sales, a sharp increase in Instagram followers and multiple messages from interested parties including two chilli sauce subscription boxes, various smaller influencers in demographics that I had never hit before, new collaborations with food bloggers, magazines and podcasts interviews. Honestly it’s been pretty wild during lockdown for me.
What do you hope to gain from indebox?
When Steve approached me and set out his idea to create a box of locally sourced products from small independent companies, I knew it was something I'd love to be involved in. Not only did I want to show my support for another budding local entrepreneur, but it sounded like a brilliant way to reach further afield with the aim of delivering a slice of Brixton to people's homes up and down the country. I'm really excited to see where we can take it in the future. The idea has such a huge scope for success.
Why is it important for you / your business to support other independent businesses?
Supporting both local and independent businesses is extremely important to me. Without the support of a number of local small business owners such as Karl and Bruno at London Beer Lab, Ryan at Bullfinch Brewery in Herne Hill, Andrew who runs Guzzl in the market, Tom of The Priory/Grosvenor Arms and Beth; the Brixton Brewery Taproom manager, who have all supported me since day one I would never have gained the exposure and confidence to keep pushing forward when things got tough. I also wouldn’t be anywhere if it wasn’t for my favourite fresh produce sellers Nour C&C and Aziz C&C down Electric Avenue who provide the majority of my ingredients bar some specialist chillies for my sauces. The relationships I have built with them have really made the whole process run much smoother than it ever would have with me trying to do everything on my own from scratch.
What do you love about Brixton / South London?
My love affair with Brixton started a long time ago. When I turned 16 my parents finally agreed to let me hit Brixton Academy up for all night Drum & Bass raves. I've been coming here at least twice a month ever since for The Academy, The Fridge (now Electric) and Hootananny's. Music was just the beginning. I then discovered the Market and Village. All the fresh produce available here still blows my mind and I haven't yet got round to trying everything on offer down Electric Avenue. Now I'm a bit older, perhaps even wiser, I love Brixton for everything it has to offer. The solid community spirit that comes together to fight injustices and over-development, the food, the music, the local parks where I walk my dog (Flint) and the local craft beer. I moved here permanently 5 years ago and doubt I'll ever leave. Brixton is my home.
Anything else we should know?
Haha, well I truly am a Scientist. I have a PhD in Chemistry and spent 7 years working as a Synthetic Organic Chemist in a laboratory in Sussex before choosing to change careers and become a Secondary Science teacher in London and start my own company. I also help out at a local brewery a couple of times a month. The “Lazy” part is more tongue in cheek!
I don’t want to put a cap on it. To begin with I was just having a bit of fun, learning more about business whilst doing something I enjoy. I now find myself spending more and more time in the kitchen. I’ve certainly toyed with the idea of going part time at school so I can really devote more to it and would really love to one day see bottles of Lazy Scientist sauces in supermarkets sitting proudly next to Encona!
I'm currently developing a new range of very unique spice rubs that I hope to launch soon and I have other plans that involve having a space to serve food and beers. For now it would just be great to reach a point where I can maybe become an employer and mentor and give back more to the local community where it all began.