From standing in a garden shed laboriously separating eggs by hand to turning out one million melt-in-the-mouth meringues a day, Leanne and Brian Crowther’s business Flower and White have gone from strength to strength over the last decade.
It was back in 2009 that the industrial artisan manufacturers and distributors of specialist snack and bakery products was created by the husband and wife team with a passion for baking. Following a trip to France the idea was born to whip up meringues using a traditional Swiss recipe and propel the traditional dessert into the 21st century.
It is now 10 years since Flower and White started, and in that time it has revolutionised the confectionary industry and has gone from those long days in the shed to having a Telford-based factory which employees 40 people and uses more than 200,000 eggs to produce the one million meringues each day.
This year Flower and White re-launched its snacking range with the innovative and unique sustainable packaging, beating the likes of Mars and Nestlé to become the first company in the sector to move into plastic-free and 100% recyclable packaging.
“We don’t often have the time to stop and reflect on our own story, but when you look at where we are now, I think we can be extremely proud of what we have achieved,” said Brian.
“We literally started off in our garden shed separating eggs by hand, gently heating the sugar and adding natural flavourings. Now look at us, we’re selling our meringues all over the world and there’s still a lot more to come.”
The Flower and White journey did not start with meringues. While living in London, Brian had grown tired of weekend working in restaurants and decided to become a stay at home dad while Leanne went back out to work.
“He started baking cupcakes – the most amazing cupcakes actually,” said Leanne.
“We started selling them at farmers’ markets and all sorts of events around the country and we did really well, nearly always selling out.
“But we needed a more reliable way of selling so after a number of years we decided to launch as a specialty food distributor. It was so exciting and that was really the start of what we are now.”
It was on the stomping ground of the farmers’ markets where Leanne and Brian started to really up the focus on meringues.
“We wanted to do something new and exciting with the range and we were being asked for gluten-free options an awful lot by customers,” said Leanne.
“That was when we launched our showstopper in the form of our giant Swiss meringue. They started selling really well, but they weren’t the easiest product to work with so we had to think outside the box including careful packaging and adapting our baking techniques.
“At some of our bigger events we were selling literally thousands of meringues.”
The Swiss meringue is still Flower and White’s best-selling product with a number of clever spin off products like drops and minis with Brian and Leanne wanting to drive the innovation into snacking.
“We created a truly fantastic product range. Meringue bars and bite size pieces covered in Belgian chocolate and sprinkled with something to add texture and flavour. They’re very low in calories, indulgent and light,” she said.
The snackable range is now stocked in the likes of Selfridge’s, QVC, Harvey Nichols, and is on board Virgin Atlantic flights.
However, neither Leanne or Brian are content to stick with the status quo and are already making plans for the future.
“We’re working on new concepts all the time and we will have a new addition to the bars and bites ranges coming out in July so keep your eyes peeled for those,” said Brian.
“Getting to this point hasn’t been easy. There is a lot of hard work, blood, sweat and tears that has gone into making this business the success it is to date, and we’ll be giving that same amount of commitment to make sure we continue to grow and move forward.”
To celebrate its 10th anniversary Flower and White will be opening its factory to local dignitaries, the families of its employees and local community groups.