Project Local: Little S&P

05 June 2024

Introducing Little S&P: Crafting Healthy Delights for the Waikato

At Volare Bread, we are dedicated to partnering with local artisans who share our passion for quality and community. One such partnership is with Little S&P, a local business known for creating nutritious, plant-based treats. Founded by a talented chef and devoted mother, Little S&P's journey is a story of personal challenge, culinary innovation, and community collaboration.

We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Lydia, the inspiring founder behind Little S&P. Her journey began with her daughters' food sensitivities, which led her to explore and create delicious, raw treats that cater to various dietary needs. From navigating the evolving food industry to supporting local producers in the Waikato region, her story is one of resilience and passion. Join us as we delve into the world of Little S&P and discover how this small business is making a big impact on the local food scene.

What was the inspiration behind Little S & P?

Both our daughters (Sophie & Pippa, Little S&P) experienced food sensitivities and intolerances as babies which led me to eliminate many foods from my diet so I could continue to breastfeed. As a trained chef and experienced caterer, it was strange to be on the other side of the dietary nightmare! I took on the challenge, quickly becoming obsessed with raw treats and making delicious creations to fulfil my own sweet cravings. The more I shared my story with people, the more I realised how many others adjust their diets for various reasons. This constantly recurring conversation inspired me to make delicious, nutritious treats and make them available to others.  

How has the food industry changed since you first started and which trends are you most excited about?

Since Little S&P started over 5 years ago, people have certainly become more knowledgeable and aware of plant-based alternatives. There are more options available now compared to when I first started trying to find dairy-free substitutes 8 years ago. For some people, perhaps with coeliac disease, this is their constant battle, so It’s great to see more awareness out there.  I’ve had my fair share of “raw- don’t you have an oven” jokes; but people seem more informed when I tell them I make raw products. 

I am excited to see the growth in plant-based everyday meals. Although I no longer have food limitations, as a family we eat a lot of plant-based meals and I love including as many different plants as possible in our diets.  

What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced in business?

Apart from educating people what the product is to begin with, the biggest challenge has certainly been operating a small business on my own during a pandemic, recession and cost of living crisis. My heart really goes out to other small businesses struggling at the moment! 

As a small business owner in the Waikato, how important is it for you to support and collaborate with other local businesses?

I love to support local businesses where possible. As a lot of my ingredients are grown overseas like organic cacao from the Dominican Republic, I’m conscious to source local fresh ingredients when I can. I enjoy collaborating with local businesses like the workshops I did with Wild River & Co. Florists last year and the slice collaboration I did with Hunt and Gather Bee Co. honey. I’m currently working on a new slice flavour using Top Notch Macadamias from Patetonga. I think it’s important to support your local small businesses as they keep the community spirit alive. 

Little S & P has garnered quite a following. How many stores do you currently stock your products in? 

Thank you! It has been amazing working with the Volare team and customers are enjoying being able to get their sweet fix while picking up their coffee from all of your locations, which is fantastic. I have 9 other local suppliers throughout Hamilton and Cambridge including recently joining The Larder at MADE of Hamilton East.

I also have an online store where customers can purchase whole cakes and slice boxes for local delivery, and now an easy pick-up option from the Larder too! 

How did you find out about Volare and what motivated the partnership?

Ryan and I crossed paths at Wintec back when we were completing our hospitality certificates in 2006, before Volare even opened. We went our separate ways, working diligently in our separate fields until the stars aligned, placing Little S&P and Volare together in the same cabinet. I have admired Volare over the years and am proud that a little taste test has led to my products being stocked in all five stores.   

What is your favourite Volare Bread product and why?

Oooh I love the Turmeric Sourdough because I love cumin! My kids also love it smothered in hummus so bonus! But otherwise, the Korma pie is a close second! 

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for Little S & P and how do you envision the future of locally crafted, plant-based food in the Waikato?

We have been working on a new kitchen project for quite a while now (good things take time so they say!), but eventually I am very excited to move the business from our certified home kitchen to its own space! Allowing me to offer workshops and use the space to teach people how to make their own raw products. At the moment though, I’m very much enjoying the flexibility of working from home. The product and business structure that I have created allows me to have quality time with the kids while they’re young and do fun things like helping their class make ANZAC biscuits. Sometimes owning a business is extremely tiresome but having good work/life balance is the secret to longevity, I think.  

Our collaboration with Lydia exemplifies the heart and soul of what makes the local food community in Waikato so special. From the heartfelt beginnings inspired by personal family needs to the innovative and delicious plant-based treats now enjoyed by many, Little S&P has carved out a unique niche in our local food landscape.

If you haven't already, we strongly urge you to visit one of our stores and taste these wonderful treats for yourself. Here’s to a future filled with more delicious, nutritious, and thoughtfully crafted foods!