In today’s Behind the Biz interview, we’re exploring the world of high-end food.
If you’re new to PGT then you may not have come across my weekly interview series before. I chat with the founders of the most exciting brands here in the UK and around the world to discover more about their business journey. I hope the series inspired you to try new independent brands or perhaps, to even take a closer look at the business idea you’ve had brewing for a while.
I’m delighted to be chatting with James Eagle, the founder of Pished Fish.
Based in Camberwell, the booze-infused smoked salmon company has already made its way into Fortnum & Mason and as of more recently, Harrods. If that’s not a testament to the quality of the product I don’t know what is.
Where did the inspiration for Pished Fish come from?
I see myself as a spokesperson for fun-loving salmon. I believe that salmon has spent too long in a polite, softly spoken rut, typecast as a sombre, mild-mannered fish, brimming with great taste and beneficial nutrients, (omega-3 fatty acids, potassium and B vitamins) a trusted, ‘safe pair of fins’ fish offering a genteel, serene pathway into fine fish appreciation.
My vision is to show salmon’s more audacious, heroic and booze-infused side, unlock the often overlooked truth that salmon has an astonishing capacity to pair perfectly with high-quality alcohol and botanicals, before being smoked in small batches over food. In essence, introduce the finest quality Scottish salmon to a younger, less set-in-their-ways audience.
When did you know you were on to something?
I was working our first ever farmer’s market when an excitable female foodie strolled purposefully over to our stand, read our booze-infused smoked salmon banner and exclaimed enthusiastically, ‘What’s not to like?’
Early on in my journey I also became the proud recipient of the Farm Shop & Deli show’s BEST NEW IDEA award.
How did you decide upon a name?
The name, as you can see, pretty much fell into our lap because we wanted to convey a sociable, ‘good time’ fish with a far-reaching appreciation of top-notch alcohol. Our vision is to stand proud in the chiller cabinet next to fine hams, cured meats, fresh fish, crab pates whilst projecting just the right balance of intrigue, style and mischief. This festive season we’ll be adding an extra layer of foodie verve to our festive offer with the eagerly anticipated unveiling of our ‘Designated Driver’ fish (just cherry & juniper smoke), for those fish lovers who prefer their salmon to remain abstinent from alcohol.
What did you do before Pished Fish?
I worked in the pharmaceuticals and ‘medical devices’ industry as a ‘finger-twiddling’ export manager seeking a little more ‘depth’ in his career.
Did you always plan to run your own business?
I think the thought always resided somewhere at the back of my head, it was merely the matter of finding something more ‘hands on’ that I was really passionate about. The current artisan food & drink revival in the UK is truly inspiring, which coupled with my love of ‘real food’ has led to the creation of a hand-crafted enterprise, (hand filleted, cured, smoked, sliced and packaged) where ‘short cut’ machinery is a complete no-no.
Please share a business high and low with us.
Our Fortnum & Mason listing was a very proud personal moment (we’ve also just secured Harrods) because their unrivalled appreciation and support of best-in-class, high-end food & drink means that if you’ve made the cut, you’re really onto something special!
Quality does come a small price premium and it’s a shame that some retailers can’t appreciate that price is simply one facet of an amazing product range.
What advice would you pass onto budding start-up entrepreneurs?
Brand identity is a key constituent of giving the brand its best possible start in life. In time reputation, brand reassurance and trust will be the key drivers but in the short-term a memorable name, a likeable fish spokesperson and a commitment to eye-turning packaging certainly helps.
What’re your business plans for the year ahead?
We’re building an enviable reputation in high-end London retailers (although there’s always room for a Partridges), the farmer’s markets and the independent deli scene but it would be nice to have a door opened by an inquisitive Booths, Waitrose or Ocado. Hospitality and export (Scandinavia…) also provide massive opportunities but we’re a young fish on a long journey so we won’t race before we can swim.
Huge thanks to James for taking the time to be a part of Behind the Biz. I loved hearing about his business journey and I hope you did too.
I can’t wait to see the business grow and wish James the best of luck with his biz. I know that Pished Fish will be one of the first things I’ll be trying out after my pregnancy in spring.