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New cordial company places recycling at the heart of business  

Aiming to make charity shops the first choice when buying clothes. Picture: ©Caroline Purday

Customers of the Urban Cordial Company receive a discount on their next purchase when they return the glass bottles. Founder Natasha Steele wanted to incorporate reuse into the very foundation of her business, along with local sourcing of ingredients.

The seed for the Urban Cordial Company was planted just over a year ago when Natasha was making some elderflower and lemon cordial with a friend. 

“I was bored at work,” said Natasha, “so this was a perfect opportunity to keep my mind busy doing something I enjoyed. I started to experiment with other fruits and flavour combinations, mainly using foraged fruits either from my allotment in Colindale, the orchards in the common in Stanmore and from friends back gardens. In three markets I sold just under 250 bottles - all my stock.”

Natasha reinvested the money she made and injected some more cash to quadruple her stock. Working as a ‘one man band’, she now enlists help from family and friends in cutting up fruit, ready to be sold at markets in and around London. Flavours include blackcurrant and lemongrass, pear and ginger, plum and star anise and apple cinnamon and clove: and they seem to be going down a treat with customers.

“I try and source from good farms not too far from where I am based in north London,” Natasha explains. 

“The majority of my fruit comes from Rankins Hill Farm in Kent. I also source my blackcurrants from Herefordshire and my lavender from Sussex. I use glass bottles which come from south London. As my business grows, I will continue to ensure that my produce is sourced as locally as possible, which might require a seasonal change in flavours as some fruits do not cold store well and it is difficult to find them frozen in bulk, like plums.

“I sell my cordial in glass dorica bottles which are traditionally used for olive oil, but I like the way they look! Obviously, nice glass bottles come at a price, and therefore when I sell my bottles, I tell my customers that if they return the bottle, they receive a 50 pence discount on the next purchase. This might not seem much, but I think my regular customers appreciate the small savings. It also means that I can re-use the bottles by re-sterilising them and using new sealed lids. The old lids get recycled in my recycling bin as they are plastic. So in the long-term, my customers make a saving, and I make a small one too when making a new batch of cordial!”

By Lucy

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