Wild Family Thymes
A local mother-daughter team is behind the cutting-edge condiment company, Wild Thymes
Working with her mother is "really special," says Ann Stettner (at right). "We don't have any trust issues; we know we're on the same team." Photo courtesy of Wild Thymes
Olivia is hard at work. Papers are scattered across her desk, pens are underfoot, and she is busy on the phone.
No, we dont have four cases of Thai chili dipping sauce, youll have to take two, she says matter-of-factly. And theres no plum chutney today, only mango papaya. She hangs up with a shrug.
Not the most professional demeanor, but hey, the toy phone doesnt have a dial tone anyway.
From her desk across the room, Olivias mother, Ann Stettner, watches her four-year-old daughter. She wonders if Olivia (or Peanuts, as her grandmother has dubbed her) will eventually become part of Wild Thymes, the gourmet condiment company Ann launched with her mother, Enid Stettner, in 1997. Running a company is a lot to handle, says Ann about the Albany County-based business. If she grows up and wants that responsibility and the tremendous rewards that go along with it, then it will be nice to have a legacy to leave her.
And what a legacy it has become. Known throughout the gourmet food world for their fresh and inventive products and recipes (as well as the fact that they do everything, including production, themselves), the company has attracted the attention of the big boys. At a recent trade show, Kraft and
The company was originally
In the mid-90s,
Ann had never contemplated a living making food and was ambivalent about the toll a professional relationship might take on the bond she had with her mother. In the end, it was Anns husband, Neil, who urged her to take the plunge. He convinced me that not many people have the opportunity to become an entrepreneur and to work with a family member whom they are already close with, Ann says.
The success of this mother-daughter team lies in their individual strengths. Together they brainstorm products they want to develop, then go off to work in their separate domains.
Moms a genius at taking a recipe and adjusting the proportions so it can be made in a 150-gallon kettle, says Ann. Shes really good at balancing flavors. She never makes anything one-dimensional.
Ann handles sales and marketing and oversees the companys Web site, sales catalogue, public relations campaigns, and wholesale and retail accounts. One of her favorite jobs is maintaining the on-line database, which contains over 300 recipes that use Wild Thymes products. We give people creative ways to use our products, she says. For instance, cranberries arent just for Thanksgiving. We have recipes for cranberry drinks and awesome decadent dessert bars using our cranberry sauces. Besides her family, Ann tests these recipes on Sarah, her colleague in the sales office; Bill, the electrician; Javier, who helps with the yard work; and the UPS man if he sticks around long enough, she adds.
In addition to the salad refreshers, Wild Thymes offers a medley of marinades, dipping sauces, chutneys, vinaigrettes, and cranberry relishes featuring unique combinations like mandarin orange basil, chili ginger honey, and apricot cranberry walnut.
Many of their products are influenced by the extensive travels that the mother-daughter team have taken together to such exotic locales as
Ann is proud that their products use only fresh ingredients, are all-natural (no preservatives or trans fats), kosher, and exclusively homemade. When consumers read the labels, they recognize all the ingredients, she says. In a world that is so anonymous, its important for consumers to also know there is a face behind the product, and a real family that makes their livelihood from the product. She is also pleased that the companys foods are so healthy. We actually have a doctor who orders wholesale from us regularly and retails our products in his office, she says.
The Wild Thymes sales office, based out of Anns
She just wants to know how Peanuts is doing.
For more information on Wild Thymes, call 800-724-2877 or visit www.wildthymes.com.