Jo and Jeremy Ferris have been crafting Artisan Spice Blends for over ten years! Their journey began when they were trying to re-create a dish that they experienced on a holiday, and were frustrated by the lack of flavour in the spices on the supermarket shelves. Today, Iron Skillet creates affordable spice blends, with suggested recipes and uses, to empower people to cook delicious foods without having to spend a lot of time or money.
Who are the makers at Iron Skillet?
Jo and Jeremy Ferris
Where are you located?
What do you make?
We craft Artisan Spice Blends, and provide simple recipes and suggested uses to help you cook like a rock star!
How would you describe your company?
Iron Skillet’s mission is to empower people to cook delicious foods without having to spend a lot of time or money. Our affordable spice blends are crafted from select ingredients, and we put every little thing on the label, so you know exactly what you’re eating. There are never any hidden ingredients in our blends — and definitely no fillers or anti-caking agents.
Another thing we’re proud of is our packaging, which helps minimize waste while keeping your spices fresh. The brown bags protect the seasonings from light and make it easy for you to squeeze out the air before you reseal the zip, keeping the freshness in. Surprisingly for some, there is also less plastic in our packaging than in a standard glass spice jar with a plastic shaker lid. The best part of all is that the packages are reusable many times over.
How long have you been in business?
We’ve been blending spices for over 10 years.
After moving to British Columbia in 2012, we started offering our blends online for friends and spice-lovers and needed to find a way to get the fresh-blended flavours shipped safely and at a reasonable rate. That’s when we discovered our current packaging.
We joined the Creston Valley Farmers’ Market in 2016 and have visited a few other farmers’ markets across the Kootenays since. In 2018, we obtained licensing on our food production facility and began to sell at retailers across the Kootenays, including Kootenay Co-op!
What motivated you to start?
In trying to re-create a Moroccan dish we experienced on a holiday, we were frustrated by the lack of flavor in the spices we were getting from the supermarket shelves. This prompted the quest to look for fresh herbs and whole spices which opened our life up to the amazing flavors that can be brought out from grinding, blending and balancing quality ingredients.
What are some of your greatest joys?
The response of happy customers is why we do what we do. For example, some of our customers’ have said:
“You’ve opened up a whole new world for me!”
“My kids love this!”
“We eat this on a weekly basis”
“This makes flavourful cooking so easy!” etc.
What are some of your greatest challenges?
Becoming a recognizable product has been a challenge, as we have found there are some consumer barriers due to our packaging being so different from other seasonings. Our packaging decision is one we stand behind, however, and are confident that once people know what’s inside that packaging, their tastes will be forever changed.
Paperwork/red tape/requirements for certifications and fulfilling regulations has been another challenge, and another one we continue to overcome.
What is your vision for your company?
World peas, with Iron Skillet seasonings of course.
Why is local food and/or local purchasing important to you?
On a personal level, the community of accountability, trust, and transparency is so important. When eaters can meet producers, talk to them and ask questions, it lends a lot more confidence to a product. In a world where mass production and chemicals used to make and preserve food products are rife, it’s nice to be able to walk up to a producer or go to their facility and ask questions. In this way, I have the opportunity to see that my health is as important to local food producers as it is to me.
On the business side, it is important to us that local eaters can trust our products to be exactly what we say they are and also that we be available to answer questions and concerns.
If you could deliver a message directly to Co-op members/customers, what would it be?
We know that a lot of you like to blend your own spices and come up with your own flavours; we do too. The whole reason we started selling our blends is so that you can still get great flavours, with the highest quality spices and herbs, even when your creative side isn’t working like it you want it to.