Food entrepreneur Lucy Mackenzie, 45, reveals the inspiration behind her dressing and condiment firm

Lucy Mackenzie, 45, is the founder of award-winning dressing and condiment firm Lucy’s Dressings. She lives in London with her husband, Ludo, and their three children.

I have my mother to thank for my interest in making dressings. As a girl, I’d help her out in the kitchen, playing around with flavours. In later years, I’d take my creations to dinner parties in jam jars.

I was fascinated by how to get the right combination and balance of flavours. I found that shop dressings didn’t represent the ones people make at home, nor what they should taste like or how they should look.

Lucy Mackenzie (pictured), 45, is the founder of award winning business Lucy's Dressings

Lucy Mackenzie (pictured), 45, is the founder of award winning business Lucy's Dressings

Lucy Mackenzie (pictured), 45, is the founder of award winning business Lucy’s Dressings

I felt no one was bringing out exciting flavours or suggesting that dressings weren’t simply for salad. So, in 2011, following a 12-year career in headhunting, I went about setting up Lucy’s Dressings from my kitchen table, while pregnant with my third child.

I’d put my children to bed, then don my hairnet and make dressings through the night. I wanted to create a product that looked beautiful on your table, but could also be decanted and passed off as your own.

After months of trialling recipes, I settled on four flavours, which I took to a food festival in Suffolk. Here, I had my first big break and met a buyer from Selfridges. The business was launched into retail.

At first, I put around £10,000 of our savings into the business. It was started on a shoestring: one friend did the branding, another helped with the labels, and my sister-in-law created the website.

She said her love for making dressings and condiments (pictured) comes from her mother

She said her love for making dressings and condiments (pictured) comes from her mother

She said her love for making dressings and condiments (pictured) comes from her mother

We now make 11 dressings and three condiments, and are so proud that we’ve won 11 Great Taste Awards along the way.

Lucy’s Dressings are sold in Waitrose, Selfridges and Harrods. We have four full-time members of staff and are aiming to turnover £1 million this year. We also supply chains such as Bill’s and GBK, and hope to launch on airlines with our new 26ml pot format.

While the dressings are no longer made from my kitchen table, we still make them using all the ingredients and methods you’d use at home.

I’m passionate about my brand, but mindful there’s a lot more to do to get to where we want to be. Although start-up life certainly has its up and downs, I adore working in food, and there never is a dull moment. 

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