Father and daughter duo, Earl (65) and Charmaine (38) Smikle from Cardiff own and run Earl’s Kitchen. It’s one of over 200,000 businesses in the UK to take part in the Amazon Small Business Accelerator programme.
Before starting the business, Earl was a chef working in restaurants across South Wales. His Caribbean-inspired food impressed customers from across the country – something that didn’t go unnoticed by his daughter.
After a life-changing health incident impacted Earl’s ability to work long hours in restaurants, Charmaine encouraged him to turn his popular culinary talents into a business. The pair took the plunge and launched Earl’s Kitchen in 2019.
“Dad has been working as a chef in South Wales since he was 28. He had a few recipes that were really popular wherever he worked, including his Barbados sauce, which he thought was one of the things he could sell for people to use at home,” Charmaine said.
The pair initially used guidance from Food and Drink Wales to increase their knowledge of testing, bringing products to market and the regulations they would need to follow to launch their collection of sauces, chutneys, and seasonings.
The business relied on sampling at events and word of mouth to get people interested in their products, but then in 2020, the pandemic hit. As a result, they turned to Amazon’s Small Business Accelerator for help on how to increase their online presence.
“We mainly sold our products on our website and in food markets, with a few sauces stocked in small deli retailers, but when COVID-19 hit it was a knock to our business as many of the events we booked were cancelled overnight. We really had to focus on building our online presence,” she said.
“The Amazon Small Business Accelerator was not only timely for improving our online operations, but it was extremely helpful for plotting out the stages required for scaling our business.”
The Amazon Small Business Accelerator inspired Earl and Charmaine to start selling their products on Amazon, providing them with a much wider audience.
“The Amazon Small Business Accelerator helped us get a better understanding of how to increase our sales in Wales and in different European countries through exports. Since attending the event, we’ve listed our products on Amazon, helping us achieve a significant increase in sales. The event also taught us about the importance of shaping a brand’s identity, which has led to us applying for a trademark for our products. This has all helped set us up for an exciting period of growth for Earl’s Kitchen.”