A little more than six months after investing in a relaunch of its bottle labeling and branding, updating its e-commerce platform and finding a manufacturing partner, Maazah, the St. Paul-based, family-owned food company that makes Afghan-style chutney, is seeing a growing return on that expenditure.
The company's condiments are sold in more than a dozen independent markets in mostly Minnesota, but also Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois. Online sales also have been booming, and the company's CEO hopes recent acceptance into a Minneapolis-based food accelerator and presence in St. Paul food hall Keg and Case will further fuel that growth.
The company used a loan in November to invest in e-commerce and other needs. Within months, e-commerce sales were jumping, thanks in part to the company being featured in a New York Times article and on the Food Network, said Yasameen Sajady, co-founder and chief executive.
Initially, Sajady and her family didn't anticipate improvements to their online presence playing a large factor in their growth. But now, it accounts for half their sales, with orders coming from New York, California, Texas and Washington, Sajady said.
"A lot of these digital outlets are bringing our brand to new audiences and new people and they're ordering it," she said.
The company's bottle redesign, which incorporated more storytelling of the brand itself and its ingredients, was inspired by plans to expand into more regional retailers, Sajady said.
"At the farmers market you're in front of the customer and you tell them all these things, but at the store you can't," she said. "We wanted to have our bottle to stand on its own."
The company last year found a manufacturing partner in south Minneapolis to boost volume production, Sajady said.
Maazah is selling about 7,000 units per month, an improvement from this time a year ago when the company saw a dip in sales due to changes in consumer spending habits brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, Sajady said. The company is now getting back to pre-pandemic levels of sales growth.
Over the next several weeks, Sajady will absorb strategies from some of the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry's top experts through ImpactSKU, a 12-week business accelerator program in Minneapolis. The accelerator, part of SKU, a national accelerator for CPG startups, accepts startups with annual revenue between $100,000 and $1 million.
Being accepted into ImpactSKU comes with a $20,000 cash bonus and an opportunity to pitch to investors and other industry leaders this September.
Since May and continuing through September, Maazah will have a setup and shelf placement at Keg and Case's Brand Builders Market, along with 15 other food brands, most of them local.
In 2014, Sajady and sister Sheilla Sajady began selling their mother's chutney at the Northeast Farmers Market in Minneapolis. The condiment is recommended for salads, grain bowls, tacos, roasted vegetables and all kinds of grilling applications.
"It's not another honey or another salsa — no offense to the honey and salsa people — but it's a new way of using chutney," Sajady said.
Maazah also recently started a social initiative, with 1% of each unit sold supporting girls' education programs in Afghanistan and other parts of the developing world.