Artisan food business cuts the mustard

Heike at her mustard hut
Heike at her mustard hut

Not many people can say they launched a business on the back of a dream, but for Heike Winter that’s exactly what she did.

Having moved from Germany to the Outer Hebrides in December 2016 with her husband, Stephan-Maria Aust, the former counsellor and life coach awoke one morning with a brand name, Mustheb, which turned out to be a combination of mustard and Outer Hebrides, emblazoned in her mind.

Shortly afterwards she picked up a book that had fallen at her feet and read the word mustard on a page and decided that fate was telling her to use her talent for cooking to start making organic artisan mustard.

After turning to Business Gateway Outer Hebrides for advice, and attending a number of its free workshops, Heike launched The Hebridean Mustard Company in September, selling at local fairs, in artisan shops, and from her honesty hut situated at 10 Glen Kyles, Leverburgh.

She said: “My CV is very colourful, having worked for a shipping company, an advertising agency, in international sales, in marketing, as a chief editor, and also a partner in a management consultancy. I then became a counsellor and life coach and combined those skills with my love of food to offer coaching while cooking which was very fulfilling.

“On moving to the Outer Hebrides last year the idea for my brand arose after waking with the word Mustheb clearly in my head and the journey to start my business began.

“I went to Business Gateway very early on and my adviser, Fiona Chisholm, gave me encouragement and contacts within the relevant council departments that I needed to speak to. She also pointed me to the workshop programme that helped me develop a social media strategy.

“I’m still in contact with Fiona, as it’s good to have someone to talk to who sees the business from a different angle and can give salient advice.

“I’m very pleased that Harris Community Shop ‘An Clachan’ in Leverburgh is offering Mustheb, which includes my first mustard variety Sweet Delight and a sea-salt blend with mustard, and next season I’ll be selling in VisitScotland’s iCentre shop in Stornoway.

“Shoreline Stoneware also sell Mustheb in combination with beautiful mustard pots made by potter Louise Cook who also stocks my products. Now that my mustard hut has been fitted with a solar panel powered light so people can buy the mustard 24/7 directly from me.”

Fiona Chisholm, Adviser, Business Gateway said: “Heike has a real passion for the islands and for food. Combing her love for mustard with her business acumen amassed over the years of working in various sectors, she has set up a cottage enterprise that has quickly become a success.

“With our help we were able to provide her with local knowledge on how to get started while our workshop programme has helped her spread the word about her products online.”

Heike’s love of mustard comes from growing up in Düsseldorf, a German mustard stronghold, where she developed a taste for hot and spicy food, even adding mustard to ice-cream!

Mixing mustard seed with mustard powder, vinegar, sea salt, cane sugar, water and spices, Heike uses traditional methods to produce her high quality products.

She is now investigating the possibility to extend her product range to include chutneys, vinegars, salts, and spices.

She said: “I’ve had enquiries from all over the UK, Europe, and the US and I’m currently having to decide how fast I want to grow and need to investigate the opportunities and risks of international businesses. I am sure Business Gateway will be able to answer many of the questions I have about exporting.”

Over the coming months you can buy Mustheb from Leverburgh Community Hall (November 18th), Barvas and Brue Community Centre (November 25th), Tarbert Handmade Harris (December 1st and 2nd), the Flavour Food Festival in Tarbert (December 15th), Talla Na Mara Pairc Niseaboist (December 16th) and Stornoway Town Hall (December 9th and 22nd).

For more information visit: website

To find out how Business Gateway Outer Hebrides can help your business visit: here or call 01851 808240.