We recently connected with Lizette Galdames and have shared our conversation below.
Lizette, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today How did you come up with the idea for your business?
In April of 2019, my husband had a left brain Ischemic stroke, and could no longer work. Right then and there I decided that my family would not be eating anything out of a box or a can. Preservatives, chemicals, and excessive salt would not be in our diet. I started researching how to do home canning and food preservation. Our shelves began to fill up with organically, homegrown veggies, canned by me. My mom asked me if I would make her orange marmalade as it was her favorite. I had not attempted it, but for her, I would do it. The marmalade was great, like sunshine in a jar. I started exploring new flavor combinations and gifting them to my family and neighbors. My daughter and son-in-law suggested I sell my jams at the farmers market. I researched the cottage food laws for my area, and found out, I could actually sell my products without a problem. I spoke to the market manager of the farmers market I usually went to, and they welcomed me with open arms. I started with a little table, with a dollar store table cover, tied on with twine because it was extremely windy. I grew the stand, evolved it to stand out. Then COVID hit and closed everything. As soon as the markets opened, I was there. Now my husband comes with me every weekend, he no longer sits in the background. He is up, he talks to people, he sells, he helps me set up and take down. This has helped him so much with his memory and mobility issues. We have not only become part of amazing market families, but have returning customers that are also family. Starting this business grew from wanting to help my husband and family stay healthy, and put food on our table. I have fed my family and helped others feed theirs. We promote recycling, composting and zero waste. I share recipes to use my jams in. This has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. I look forward to walking into my kitchen and saying “OK what can I create today?” It has become my happy place. Hearing people tell me they love my products gives me a smile bigger than the Cheshire cat.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
Gypsy Hidden Farms came to be from my wanting to remove harmful chemicals, preservatives, and salt out of my husband’s diet. We both had stressful jobs. Him being an international sales manager, and me in logistics. When he had a stroke in April of 2019, our world was turned upside down. He could no longer work, all responsibilities fell on my shoulders. My father had passed away, so I was also responsible for my invalid mom. But I was determined that my family would eat healthy, good, and natural food. I did alot of research, reading books, watching seminars, videos, and decided home canning was the way for us. I canned until I had no more room on my shelves. My mom asked me to make orange marmalade, so I did. Everyone who tried it said it was sunshine in a jar. That was it, I was hooked. I knew what was going into the jam. I controlled the ingredients. I knew I was feeding my family better than anything that I could buy in a store. I frequented a farmers market, and with the nudging of my daughter and her husband, spoke to them about selling there. Now strangers were coming up to me, telling me how much they loved what I was making. I have grown this into sweet jams, spicy jams, and pickles. Now I talk to people about how to eat healthy, organic, real food. We talk about how to be zero waste in the kitchen. I tell them how we turned our regular house, into an urban mini farm, where we grow our food, have egg laying chickens, compost to feed the earth, practice water catchment to conserve water. For sure I will speak to anyone who wants to discuss how to make their life healthier. A lot of people talk about making a difference, but we talk the talk AND walk the walk to make a difference.
I am especially proud that I took a modest jar of my mom’s favorite marmalade, and turned it into a business that puts food on our table and helps to pay the bills. I lost my mom on Mother’s Day in 2020, every time I make a new batch of jam, she is right there with me. To this day I can hear her say how good her sunshine tastes. And that is the best part of anything I do.
What do you think helped you build your reputation within your market?
All markets have numerous vendors, many times vendors selling the same products. As any business, you have to find a way to make people notice you. I decided after my first time at a market, that I was going to make my brand recognizable by all. I decided on a color scheme. I decided on a logo. I decided to put my product first and foremost. But, nothing I did would bring people in and have them come back, if I didn’t respect them. My reputation as being friendly, respectful, and all about customer service is what keeps me in their minds. I always have a smile and a good morning. I keep my displays clean and organized. I keep it the way I would want a business I went into to be. I don’t treat anyone different because of their age, their ethnicity, or status. Everyone that stops by is greeted with a smile and with respect. Of course I am very demanding on the quality of my products. Only the best can go into my products. Consistency in quality keeps people coming back for to try more of my products. I listen to the customers opinions. If they tell me something is too sweet, I change it. They tell me they want spicier, I find a way to make it spicier. My jams are not for me alone, they are for my customers, my friends, my family. Their opinions, their likes, they are what comes first. Everyone has a right to eat healthy, and it’s my mission to make sure that happens. Customer service must be the first and foremost priority. Once you forget the reason you started a business, you have doomed that business. You start a business, yes to make money, but you also start a business to share something you love with the rest of the world.
Can you tell us the story behind how you met your business partner?
I am the luckiest person I know. My husband is my business partner, the love of my life, and the reason I started my business. We met almost 40 year ago. Started dating, and then moved in together. We blended our family and had a beautiful daughter. We had many ups and down. Even walked away from each other a few times. But life would not let us leave each. I lost my sister a week after 9/11, he was right there with me. He lost his brother the following year to Epilepsy, I was there for him. We have been there for each other thru all the good and the bad. He had a stroke in 2019, and I have not left his side nor him mine. He has supported me and given me courage and strength to move forward. Sometimes we disagree about how to market something, or a new flavor, or how to set up a display. But it does not matter, because at the end of the day, he is the reason I created this, the reason I do this, the reason I love to do this.
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