Bootleg Jerky founder Ash Razmi had an idea to create his own dried meat product from New Zealand beef after an American road trip. That idea grew and is now his full-time gig.
“I came back and started playing around with recipes and that sort of thing and yeah, one thing led to another,” Ash said.
With a mortgage and a newborn baby, Ash was not prepared to quit his job, so found a local manufacturer who could create the product using his recipes.
With no money for advertising, they headed to markets and started online orders. Ash’s sales background also proved helpful.
“We went to the local bottle store in Glenfield, the Liquorland there, and they said they would put it on their shelves there. We started selling to one bottle store and then that went to two bottle stores and then it was 10 bottle stores. Then suddenly we were in Farro Fresh and Smith & Caughey's. Then New World was ringing us wanting to sell our product,” Ash said.
Ash says the “old school” way of knocking on doors with your details and product samples works.
“I mean people now, especially with cybercrime, you know, scammers, people don't really trust anyone that just, you know rings you out of the blue, you could be anyone. I did spend a lot of time ringing people and emailing through information, but it just doesn't work,” Ash explained.
With things picking up, Ash has since left his day job, deciding to be back on the tools, making the jerky himself again.
“We went from the garage to a contract manufacturer and now we're back. We've actually just converted the downstairs of our house into a full MPI facility.”
Doing things differently
Ash was also determined for the branding to be different from the other ‘wild wild west and bull horns’ themes.
“We just wanted to stay totally away from that and we took a lot of experience from some of the really cool New Zealand craft breweries that are using their drinks or their food or whatever as a bit of a platform for being creative,” Ash said.
“Obviously, the whole thing is made up, I don't know about any bootleggers who were bootlegging jerky or anything like that at that time. Obviously, if they were selling bootleg alcohol they're probably be a lot more profit in it, than beef jerky would have in the 1920s.”
While beef jerky is not a big industry in New Zealand, Ash is keen to show that there’s more to beef jerky than the stuff you get from service stations.
“A lot of it will be education, I think just getting people back on on board with the product and showing them what it is, it's not just all processed, full of sugar or full of preservatives.”
Proudly New Zealand Made
And why join Buy New Zealand Made?
“One of the big things we said right from the start, was we're going to push this as New Zealand made, and so the best way to do that was to join the Buy New Zealand Made Campaign. We wanted to have that official logo. We wanted to be able to brand it and say that this was official,” Ash said.
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