When I think of windy Wellington, my mind is immediately drawn to funky op shops, hipster cafe's and out there art galleries. Unsurprisingly, a boutique, handcrafted peanut butter business, tucked away into a little cobbled corner of Eva Street, fits in seamlessly.
Where most people think of peanut butter as simply a spread that goes really well with jam on a slice of bread, Fix & Fogg have transformed it into something to be experimented with and enjoyed as a spread in its own right. With an array of flavours from dark chocolate, honey, smoke and fire to the newest fruit toast, Fix & Fogg have truly made peanut butter making into an art form.
I had the wonderful opportunity to chat with founder Roman Jewell about the inspiration for F&F, their part in the Wellington food community and their recent expansion into the US.
Natalie: Tell us about Fix & Fogg
Roman: Fix & Fogg grew out of a desire to create something by hand. I first started making peanut butter at a local lawn bowls club when my wife Andrea was pregnant with our first child, and before we knew it we were selling at markets, trying to keep up with demand.
Fix & Fogg is about using the best simple ingredients, that speak for themselves with an out of the box approach to flavours. It’s all about loving what we do, and even though the amount of peanut butter we make has gone through the roof, we have maintained a focus on making the best peanut butter, in the best way possible.
We still make all our peanut butter by hand and have a strong belief in doing things ethically and sustainably, we all have a strong focus on giving back to our communities, and this has become a large part of the way Fix & Fogg operates. To sum it all up, we make really good peanut butter, with really good ingredients, made by really good people doing really good things.
Natalie: Where did the inspiration for Fix & Fogg come from?
Roman: One new year I decided to broaden my skill base. After trying a number of different hobbies, peanut butter making was something I really enjoyed and wanted to conquer. Andrea and I spent so long, perfecting the roast, the recipe, the right amount of crunchiness or smoothness, before we knew it we were on a journey to make the perfect peanut butter.
The handmade aspect of making our PB has really stuck with us and the process we use today is just as hands on as when we were making it in our little kitchen at home. The name itself comes from the Jules Verne novel Around the World in Eighty Days, the two main characters are called Phileas Fogg and Inspector Fix. I was reading the book when the Fix & Fogg adventure began.
Natalie: How does Fix & Fogg differentiate itself from other peanut butter businesses?
Roman: We make the best peanut butter we can and this speaks for itself. I think people can taste the love and care that goes into making our peanut butter. If you focus on what you are doing and do it well people know the difference.
Natalie: How have you grown Fix & Fogg’s presence in the market?
Roman: A large part of what we do is working within a community. We absolutely love it when people use our products in the things they love to make, from PB&J brownies, fruit toast PB doughnuts to vegan burgers. Being a part of a broader food community means that we can grow and see our PB being used in a number of ways we wouldn’t have even thought of. It also means you get to have great relationships with people who love peanut butter as much as we do.
Natalie: What are the biggest challenges in the industry you have had to overcome?
Roman: Maintaining a good life-work balance is always difficult, but my family is the most important thing and without them we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Natalie: How have you found being a startup in NZ in trying to take your company global?
Roman: Our current hurdle has been taking on the United States. We just launched on Amazon earlier this year and convincing one of the great peanut butter nations of the world to eat our handcrafted peanut butter from New Zealand has been both challenging and rewarding, the response has been amazing. We have just sold out of our first shipment, with another on its way.
Natalie: What’s next for Fix & Fogg? Do you have plans to grow, expand or diversify?
Roman: We always have plans in the mix to grow, change and bring on new challenges. I think that is what keeps everyone interested and what makes Fix & Fogg rewarding for everyone involved.
Natalie: If you had to give one piece of advice to an up and coming entrepreneur, what would it be?
Roman: Just keep chugging along, keep open minded about opportunities that arrive and where there aren’t any, make them yourself.
In an era where people all over the world are becoming increasingly conscious about not just how something tastes, but also where it comes from and whether it is good for them, Fix & Fogg are creating the perfect product. Big ups to these creative kiwis!