From tea parties to Number 10

Fraser Doherty, 21, from Edinburgh, started selling jam made using his grandmother’s secret recipes at the age of 14. After cooking jam at home for several years, selling his produce locally at farmers’ markets and to delicatessens, Doherty became the youngest ever British supplier to a major supermarket chain when Waitrose launched the range in March 2007. SuperJam now supplies over 1,000 supermarkets in the UK and is working on expanding overseas.

At what point did you realise the potential for developing SuperJam and making it a viable business?

The biggest encouragement came from first presenting the idea of 100% fruit jam to Waitrose, at a ‘meet the buyer day’. They were very positive and gave me some great pointers. About a year later I had set up production in a factory, created a brand and we launched in their stores.

You make it sound so easy. What did your friends think, about your owning your own business at such a young age?

For my friends, SuperJam has been a part of their lives and I guess they feel proud of it. Some of them have even set up their own businesses after seeing SuperJam take off; that feels great.

Did you find people didn’t take you seriously when you started the business because you were so young?

Some people were sceptical of my lack of money or experience but on the whole, people were able to see that there was demand for a 100% pure fruit jam.

You obviously had to work hard, did you miss out on anything that a typical teenager experiences?

I’m very grateful that I got to have a normal teenage life and some amazing experiences at the same time; like having dinner at Downing Street, for example. It was a surreal experience meeting Gordon Brown. He had heard about SuperJam and invited me over for dinner. There were quite a few other people there; some other young entrepreneurs, sports people and musicians. I gave him some jam to say thanks.

SuperJam has been recognised as an iconic Scottish brand by the National Museum of Scotland, alongside the likes of Irn Bru and Tunnocks. How does that feel?

Amazing. It is something I’m very proud of. It was also a bit weird to find myself in a museum at just 20 years old.

I love the idea of the SuperJam tea parties – parties for elderly people who live alone in care homes or in sheltered housing, with food, live music and dancing. Did you come up with that idea or how did the tea parties get started?

I was inspired to set up the SuperJam tea parties by my Gran. She used to take my wee brother and I to visit lonely elderly people in local care homes and it was something she felt very strongly about.

Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs and business people?

Don’t be afraid of giving your ideas a shot. Start small.

You’ve achieved a lot and you’re still so young. Where do you go from here?

We’re getting a lot of interest in SuperJam from supermarkets in other countries so hopefully expanding overseas will keep us all busy for the next few years.

Words by Jamye Drohan

Photography by Emma Dawn Coote

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