From his Grandma’s kitchen to the national supermarkets, meet 26 year old SuperJam founder, Fraser Doherty…
How did your journey begin?
I’ve always been entrepreneurial – I once set up a chicken farm in the back garden of my home in Scotland and I kept the eggs warm on top of my Sky TV box. I then learned my Grandma’s jam recipe aged 14 and I started selling it to family and friends. The word spread and at age 15, I got my picture in the local paper; I was being recognised as ‘Jam Boy’. I started selling my jam at farmers markets across Edinburgh – Up to 1,000 jars a week. I’d taken over my parent’s kitchen.
How did you make the move from farmer’s markets to supermarkets?
I borrowed my Dad’s suit and naively went to pitch to Waitrose. It was like The X Factor in a supermarket. They told me I needed to set up a factory, organise production and have labels made. I wasn’t prepared for this. I came up with a comic book theme to fit with the SuperJam brand name and despite being sceptical of a 17 year old child, I managed to convince a manufacturer to work with me. I went back to Waitrose but they didn’t like the labels or the flavours. I did my market research the next time. I got in touch with Innocent HQ because I loved their branding and company ethos. They advised me to design a product to appeal to parents not children. It worked. I launched my 100 per cent fruit and sugar free jam in Waitrose eight years ago. You became the youngest ever supplier to Waitrose and have won more than 20 awards for SuperJam.
Did you ever expect the brand to become such a success?
I was overwhelmed with the initial response. 1,500 jars sold in the first 24 hours at Waitrose. We sold more jam in one day than their average jam sales for a month. I went on a ‘rock n roll’ jam tour of supermarkets – setting up a stand in Tesco, Morrison’s and Asda. I got a lot of media coverage. SuperJam now supplies more than 2,000 supermarkets around the world including Australia, Russia, Denmark, Finland and Ireland.
What have been your proudest moments?
SuperJam is exhibited in the National Museum of Scotland as an ‘Iconic Scottish Brand’, alongside Irn Bru, Tunnock’s and Baxter’s. I appeared on Korean TV where a small Korean child played me – which wasn’t very fitting to the story but I was still honoured to be on TV there. I teamed up with The Sun newspaper to give every reader a free jar. I shared the front page of the paper with Susan Boyle. That was a proud moment. And I was invited to dinner with Gordon Brown who commended me for what I’d achieved.
What’s next for you?
I dedicate my time to sister projects now. The company invests in running ‘SuperJam Tea Parties’ for elderly people who live alone, in care homes or in sheltered housing. SuperJam has hosted over 125 events across the UK, with live music, dancing and, of course, scones and SuperJam. Up to 600 guests attend each of these events and they are growing in popularity every month. I also launched The SuperJam Cookbook to share my jam-making secrets with the world; and SuperBusiness – a book about my story and what I’ve learned. Both books have become best sellers, selling more than 100,000 copies at Waterstones, WHSmith and in supermarkets. I’m also launching a range of ‘SuperHoney’ – coming soon!