Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Sushi with Spicendipity's Deborah Hadley

One of the Podcamp Ireland talks I'm most looking forward to later this month is Deborah Hadley's morning session on “From Spare Room to Board Room: How to turn your hobby into a profitable online business“. Deborah (or @Debz) is an inspiration for me - I marvel at her ability to run a successful blog and business, manage a family and do it all with a wicked sense of humour. I pestered her over sushi sat down with her recently to find out more.

I first met Debs at the 2008 Blog Awards, where she'd been nominated for Best Food Blog for the Humble Housewife, a blog she started in January of 2007. Her exuberant personality made an immediate positive impact on me and as we chatted I felt as comfortable as if I'd known this woman for years, her real-life personality mirroring almost exactly how I imagined this "humble housewife" (it was supposed to be ironic, she sighs) to be from reading her posts - this being the first I read. She's lovely - vivacious, keenly observant and funny with a talent for putting her company at ease. My kind of person.

Though not evident from her American accent, Deborah lived in Dublin until she was nine and then thanks to parents working for multinationals went to America for three years, Belgium for a further five and back to Chicago for university. It is perhaps this mix of experience that led to her own journey to discovering what she wanted to do - from studying in medical school to enrolling at the Eastman School of Music - becoming a classically trained opera singer - to being a corporate accountant right through the way to launching Spicendipity in June 2008. Not bad going for a 29 year old, eh?

"Spicendipity offers you ways to speed up your time in the kitchen", she tells me, "with all natural baking mixes, sauces and spice mixes". There are no additives, colourants or preservatives ("100% recyclable outside, NO yucky stuff inside") and there's a great variety to choose from.

From a two-brew barbecue sauce (made with honey, beer and freshly brewed coffee) to beer bread (just add a bottle of beer) to the now almost infamous chocolate brownie mix and more, Deborah's innovative and quality recipes have captured the imaginations and tastebuds of many bloggers and non-bloggers alike.

A casual search on twitter reveals a positive reaction, as do the reviews on LouderVoice.com.

So how did it start? "With €70" she tells me, "the best €70 I ever spent. I enrolled in a Start Your Own Business course, run by the County Enterprise Board in Offaly. One evening a week for six weeks, we learned how to put a business plan together, put the budget on paper and get the pitch right. I sometimes feel I have 7 billion ideas in my head, but I think if I was going to launch another idea, I'd repeat the course and process for Spicendipity because I found it such a help.

"Write it down. Even if you don't have access to a course or know what a business plan is, write down your ideas and how you'd pitch it. Writing and perfecting an elevator pitch is a great way to get some focus. Also, get feedback from lots of people from different backgrounds and in different circumstances. The business course though is definitely the way to go".

Deborah is blogging too, over on the well named Tast.ie. She also finds time to contribute to Frugal Ireland, is a welcome commenter on many blogs and raises two lovely little girls, Ella and Ciara (and the husband sometimes, she laughs) as well. Her passion for food and conviction that cooking is easy shows in the effort she goes to in simplifying her recipes, continually spreading the message that "anyone can cook".

Her blog is a great resource showing her expertise, from recipes - here's her sushi one - to reviews to great tips for an efficient kitchen (definitely one for me, anyway) while her involvement in the Twitter community (the subject of her recent talk on the Podcamp Ireland podcast) has helped her in a number of ways. "The support from everyone has been great" she smiles, "right from the idea through to launch and over, everyone has been so giving and great. The advice has really been instrumental. Sabrina's done a fantastic job with the design and it's something I'm really proud of. I'm glad I gave it a go".

Spicendipity - a real home business, run almost from her kitchen table - is a great example of a business born from a passion and I think it'll do brilliantly. Deborah's talk in Kilkenny will be a
"morning session on turning an idea or hobby into an online business. From getting an idea down on paper to execution to utilising social media to actually launch it" and is definitely on my "must attend" list. There's bound to be some excellent advice (and perhaps the odd treat?) there.

In the meantime head over to the shop and take a look at her gift hampers, especially (says a hungry me, this one. Is it any wonder I like this woman so much?

I'll see her in Kilkenny - hope to see you there too. All the information you need is on www.podcampireland.com.

Now, I'm off to boil the kettle. Anyone for something tastie?


  1. Debs site is great. I didn't know she was American until I listened to her recent Pod Cast.

  2. Great post Darragh. I'll sack that Steph and have you for my manager any day. ;)

  3. was hungry before reading, now starved...a good day's work

  4. Thanks so much Darragh - it was great chatting with you and glad to finally meet you... erm, that I remember! ;-)

    Can somebody tell Lottie I ain't no Yank! I'm not talking to her! :P