Just nine months ago a Shropshire mum and farmer’s wife left her job to work full-time on her career as an artisan fudge maker – and even lock-down can’t keep her from churning out the fudge!
Hannah Edwards, from The Oaks, near Pulverbatch, Shrewsbury, has made fudge for as long as she can remember.
The 37-year-old decided to officially make a career out of it after family and friends gave her and her fudge the nudge they needed.
Hannah, a mum of three, said she spent her childhood holidays in pursuit of the perfect fudge and later trying to perfect her own.
“I experimented a lot,” said Hannah, a former nursery teacher. “And my family and friends were the willing taste testers. Last year, a friend gave me the push I needed and shoved the number of a south Shropshire graphic designer in my hand and instructed me to call!
“I spoke to Mills Graphic Design the next day and he helped me come up with my brand name, logo and packaging designs.
“Literally five weeks later I had a company launch party for Upper Oaks Fudge, at my home which the fudge is named after, with a saleable product.
“After initially launching on social media, demand had taken off so much that I was spending every spare minute making fudge, packaging and posting, finding local suppliers and raising brand awareness.
“I had to quit my job, just a few weeks later, something I hadn’t planned on doing for a further six months while I built up the company.”
Now Upper Oaks fudge is stocked at Ludlow Farm Shop, Battlefield 1403 in Shrewsbury, Entertaining Elephants in Church Stretton and Shropshire’s Own in Longden.
Hannah was a week away from stocking at her product at The Bog Visitor Centre at the Stiperstones, a seasonal seven-month contract, which would have given her business a huge boost. But this has been halted due to the UK coronavirus lockdown.
She has developed 16 flavours including salted caramel, cappuccino, whiskey cream and seasonal options such as lemon meringue for summer and chocolate orange at Christmas.
The company also offers corporate gifts, wedding and party favours and welcome gifts at holiday lets as well as ‘letterbox’ packages so her fudge gifts can always be delivered safely.
“I make all the fudge by hand, at home in my kitchen, and I use local cream and milk as the basis and local ingredients wherever possible. I also use other local businesses to help, from graphic design to website designers Lodge Digital and stockists.
“I am learning everything I can myself to make the business a success. I spend my evenings researching how to use social media to its full potential and doing photography courses to better my product shots.”
Two weeks ago, the family suffered a huge blow when Hannah’s husband John was involved a serious farming accident and nearly lost his eye.
“John doesn’t and can’t do time off. There is always too much to do on a farm and he works in all conditions and if he’s ill. But a cow charged at him and John was hit in the face by a metal bar which broke his nose and nearly caused him to lose his sight. He’s had several trips to hospital and an operation, and his eye was saved. But he hasn’t been able to work while he recovers and waits for his sight to return.”
This has left Hannah home-schooling her three children and looking after her husband, as well as trying to keep her independent business successfully running,
Upper Oaks Fudge is still operating despite the difficulties of a UK lockdown, as Hannah is able to offer a safe, social distancing postal service.