Delicious, handcrafted, ready-to-bake empanadas are being delivered to homes around Wellington, thanks to a new small family business.
Divinas, run by local couple Laura and Diego, prepare empanadas the good, honest way with fresh local ingredients, inspired by their Italian/Spanish roots.
Hands-on small business
“We created our business because we noticed there was a gap in the food market that we could fill regarding “honest food” that is both practical and enjoyable,” says Diego.
“And by “honest” we mean food made with few great quality ingredients, ingredients that people can or have handled in their homes, with names people can actually pronounce; food that has no nasty stuff added to it.”
Hungry for more
Prior to launching Divinas, Laura and Diego had turned up to gatherings with their homemade empanadas and soon had their friends asking how they could get their hands on more.
“They would tell us “you need to sell these in supermarkets” or “oh, I’d love to have these stocked in my freezer” and they would take some home to share with loved ones,” says Laura.
“Our son, who has empanadas often for lunch at school, would ask us to put a couple extra because his mates really liked them: they could not believe they were eating broccoli and enjoying it!”
They saw an opportunity to take their love for empanadas to the next level, a food they say is a good match to the Kiwi lifestyle.
“They are great for your lunch box or for taking with you when you are sailing, trekking, kayaking, mountain biking. And the flavours are endless, so it’s hard to get bored of them,” says Laura.
Divinas launched at the start of 2021 and have discovered that making the empanadas was the easy bit.
“Although we both have always loved cooking from scratch, we had no idea about Council requirements, costs, supply chain, record keeping, etc,” says Diego.
“All of a sudden we had to do it all, a food control plan, design, photography, social media. It was a little overwhelming at first, but we learned little by little, and could also bring to the table skills that we had from previous experiences, jobs, careers.”
“We have been asked “who did your website”, or “who takes those photos”? We do! We do it all, like most small businesses!”
Supporting local producers
Since making New Zealand their home, Laura and Diego have wanted to contribute to the community and ensure their product was made as local as possible.
“We achieve this by buying local from Kiwi farmers and producers instead of buying imported. This helps the economy, it helps the country, it adds jobs, it adds value, and we find that to be very valuable and very sustainable,” says Diego.
To help communicate this to their customers, Divinas added the iconic “New Zealand Made” Kiwi Trademark to their packaging.
“We know Kiwis enjoy buying local and supporting small businesses, so the Kiwi Trademark is a great way for people to know at a glance that what they are buying is made here in New Zealand, and with most of its parts or ingredients made here too,” says Laura.
“We also thought the trademark would be helpful for our empanadas by giving them a level of trust: since Divinas empanadas are new to the Kiwi market, people would probably be more open to giving them a try when they saw they are made locally and with Kiwi ingredients.”
“This presented the challenge of finding local producers that would suit our product needs, and we enjoy challenges.
Divinas Empanadas are available to purchase online, for delivery to your door (Wellington region only)
The “New Zealand Made” Kiwi trademark is available for Kiwi trademark licence holders to download online and print onto their packaging.