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CATHY`S SPELT FOR HEALTH

A story of building a business out of necessity. By Kajsa Kinsella

· Interviews,Top Stories

"When we come up with something new, the girls and I are like young lads at the races!"​

Catherine Whitty owner of Cathy`s Spelt Fot Health tells her story for Self Starter Magazine June 2018

Isn`t it just SO exciting to grab pen and paper, sit down at the kitchen table and begin jotting down the bones your dream business, the one you have fantasized about since you were a child!?

I have been caught doing this plenty of times for many, many dreamed-up businesses and the enthusiasm simply bubbled inside my veins.

But, what if your business is born out of a personal necessity, out of a need which otherwise won`t be met, what do you do then? Well, I suppose you just have to do like Catherine Whitty and put your thinking cap on, pull up your sleeves and get to work!

Being a hard working mother of six, Catherine Whitty had more than her hands full when one day, everything she was used to and the life she had known up until that day, collapsed around her.
All the children had flown the nest and were settled with their own lives, and Catherine, used to always being busy, felt that the days were a little too long and quiet so she decided to offer her services and experience as a home-help in her community.
This was a job that she loved and having spent over an hour in her company myself, I know for certain that she must have been great company for the elderly and lonesome.
Disaster struck one day whilst enjoying a cup of tea and a bit of cake with one of the ladies she had just cleaned for, and she all of a sudden felt her tongue begin to swell and she immediately became desperately ill indeed.
After having gone through the trauma of collapsing in the doctor`s surgery, Cathy was diagnosed with having suffered an anaphylactic shock and during her hospital stay, she was "taken off" practically any kind of food produce as a preliminary caution and through the process of elimination, she and her doctors tried to figure out where this bolt from out of the blue had come from. It was for certain a shock to Cathy, as she had never before experienced anything like this.

One can only imagine how scary it must have been, not knowing if what you eat will harm you and send you into yet another allergic shock, so Cathy allowed herself a diet of only rice and potatoes at the beginning, to prevent anything from aggravating, and to give her digestive system a well-earned break.
But, we are humans and we do love flavour and variety, and what Cathy missed the most, as a forever baking mother of six, was freshly baked bread...
As luck would have it, a friendly neighbour suggested her trying to use Spelt, as regular wheat tends to be harsher on the stomach, and she immediately set off to find some from the local health food shop as this could be her savior.
Needless to say, the first try of her freshly baked Spelt bread was a very nervous occasion, as she didn`t know how she was going to react and, she tells me, she sat at the table with the insulin pen ready in hand, in case things were going to go very wrong!

But, all went well and let me tell you, that was the best piece of bread she had tasted in a very long time. So much so, that the store she bought her flour from asked her to sell her baked goods in the shop and all of a sudden, Cathy went from busy to very very busy, as it proved to very popular and delicious too.

As demand grew and Cathy was baking at home in her domestic kitchen, the question was raised whether to create a proper business out of this or to call it quits and as luck would have it, Yvonne, one of Cathy`s daughters unbeknownst to her mother, entered the little baking business in a competition, run by SuperValu called "Recipe For Success", which was to become the push Cathy had needed to decide and take her venture to the next level.
And although Cathy felt like throttling her daughter for putting her in this position, as she received a phone call from RTE asking her to bring her products up to headquarters for review, Cathy mustered up the courage, packed up the car and off to Dublin they went.

Having battled against 30 contestants, through various competitions for months, Cathy found herself in the finals and came second. This was an incredible stepping stone for the little Tinaheely home bakery, and the entrepreneur in Cathy had well and truly been awakened.

Naturally, Cathy figured that the path she was to take, was to expand the business into a commercial kitchen and open a fully fledged bakery business, but destiny had other intentions for her, as she found out after spending a good few days up to her neck in flour, ingredients and dough in an already up and running bakery.
She says with conviction "hats off to those lads who run bakeries, because it is such hard work and at this age in my life, I couldn`t do what they do".

So, back to the drawing board, as she did feel that there was a strong and devoted market for Spelt bread and a more healthier way of making breads and her strong links with various allergy societies in Ireland, convinced her of the same.
So, how to get around the trouble of having to bake it all herself?
Why not let the customer bake, rather than us doing it! This will greatly prolong shelf life, reduce packaging and delivery costs, plus, the customer gets to enjoy the process of home-baking, enjoying the smell of freshly baked bread in their kitchen, which is something very few can resist, whether allergic or not.
To prepare for this venture, Catherine and two of her daughters, Yvonne and Fiona, contacted the local enterprise office and dived head first into any course or mentoring going, to gain as much knowledge and base for their intended business as possible. And, they got every bit of support they expected and couldn`t recommend it enough for any new starter, to contact their local LEO office.

"My advice to anyone thinking of starting out on their own, is to think long and hard about it, as it can
be a very lonely place."

Slowly but surely, Cathy`s Spelt For Health was born and the idea of creating bagged Spelt mixes for home-baking, safe and clean became reality.

Catherine Whitty of Cathys Spelt For Health , interview for Self Starter Magazine June 2018
The business, although it`s a tough hill to climb as the market for healthier alternatives to wheat is nowadays occupied by many more businesses than 10 years ago, Cathy and her daughters come up with new products, recipes and inspiring videos to always keep ahead of the posse and stay alive in business.
The range today consists of delicious mixes of Multiseed, Whole Meal,
White Scone and Flapjacks, all accompanied with Cathy`s own personal recipes and if you have a little imagination and watch their videos, you will see that your bread will never need to be bland again!
If you happen to have an intolerance to dairy, that is also taken care of, as their mixes work perfectly with any alternative to milk. The rasing agent used is bread soda, so you will avoid the nasty side effects of yeast too.
Cathy`s Spelt mixes are available to buy in a variety of shops in Ireland, and the girls enjoy customers from as far away as the USA, who shop through their online store.
www.cathysspeltforhealth.ie

Interview with Catherine Whitty of Cathy`s Spelt For Health in Self Starter Magazine June 2018
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