If believing in your product is the first step to successful marketing, then Meredith Cowan is well on her way to making her Meredith's Ginger Syrup a huge success.
During an interview with The Meaford Independent Cowan spoke at length about her syrup, her success at the recent Dragons' Den Meaford event, and what the future holds for Meredith's Ginger Syrup.
Originally from Toronto, Cowan and her husband Mark settled in Meaford six years ago in order to enjoy life in a small town surrounded by a rich agricultural heritage.
“I like being close to where my food is produced,” offers Cowan, who has strong natural health interests.
The journey toward her current success began with some simple lifestyle changes that involved adjustments to her diet and exploring various natural health alternatives to conventional living. She stopped using sugar for example, and instead began using only natural sweeteners such as honey.Then she discovered ginger. It has a long history of cultivation and use in several Asian countries, and is noted for it's many medicinal benefits. For Cowan ginger held some important characteristics that she had been looking for, and she began finding ways to use it.
After some experimentation and ultimately the creation of her own special recipe that is slowly brewed over an open flame, Meredith's Ginger Syrup was born.
“This product is an immune system booster,” informs Cowan, “I like to say that it is immunity for the community.”
She enthusiastically lists the many applications she has found for the product. Whether it is simply added to boiled water or soy milk for a warm soothing beverage, mixed in soda water to create a home made, sugar-free ginger ale, or added to a stir fry or a salad, the uses are seemingly never ending.
She decided to share her creation, and began brewing and bottling her syrup for sale. In her first year she sold 200 bottles through local establishments like The Earth Harvest Cafe, and The 100 Mile Market.
With the initial success in selling her unique “Meredith's Ginger Syrup”, Cowan saw an opportunity to expand and grow her business, and she received a huge boost after her successful appearance at the Meaford Dragons' Den, where she impressed the panel of Dragons, and walked away with over $14,000 to help take her business to the next level.
But the cash wasn't the only benefit from her participation at the Meaford Dragons' Den. Word spread quickly as everyone started talking about her and her product.
“People were curious, and have been buying it,” beams Cowan, “Sales have gone way up.”
In fact, Cowan had been planning to produce 800 bottles of her special recipe of ginger and honey over the next year, but in the last few weeks alone she has sold over 300 bottles, so she is preparing to increase production in order to meet the demand.
Considering her passion for local food, it has been pointed out by some that one of the primary ingredients in Cowan's product is grown and cultivated in Asia. Cowan understands this concern, and has done her homework on the issue.
“If ginger could be grown here, I'd be the first to investigate it and get involved,” she offers, “But ginger requires a 10 month growing cycle, which we don't have the luxury of here.”
There have been others who have asked why she doesn't use wild ginger that grows in our area. Cowan has done her homework here too, and informs that wild ginger is a different plant from the traditional root ginger, and it isn't necessarily a suitable substitute.
“There is some debate about the health benefits of wild ginger, and in fact it contains a carcinogen,” offers Cowan referring to Aristolochic Acid which is a compound found in North American Wild Ginger.
“It is also very difficult to cultivate on a large scale as it grows in the forests, and it is a small plant that would require a lot of processing in order to use.”
She points out that her honey is as local as it gets since it is produced right here in Meaford. Cowan is as passionate about the health benefits of honey as she is about her ginger.
“Our area is an exceptional location for bees and honey production,” she says, “I would love to help develop a bee research centre right here in Meaford.”
When speaking of living in, and owning a business in Meaford, Cowan expresses a deep fondness for the community.
“Meaford is a beautiful place,” she begins, “I chose to live here.”
She has seen how a successful small business can help transform a community, and points to the impact that the Creemore Springs micro-brewery has had on the small town of Creemore. Cowan would love to grow her business in a similar fashion, and contribute to her community of Meaford in the same way.
“I want to create something we can all be proud of,” she says.
I have a feeling that she already has.
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