Tanya Lambert, 39, founded Tanya’s Just Real, the UK’s first cold-pressed, plant-based sauces, in 2016. She lives in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire with her husband, Michael, who works in the energy industry, and her daughter, aged nine, and son, seven.
In 2015 I took a break from a stressful career in the energy industry. I suffered a breakdown and a relapse of an eating disorder I’d had since the age of eight when my parents started to split up.
With two young children to care for, I felt overwhelmed by the strain of putting healthy meals on the table daily.
I was sure there must be an easier way for time-poor people to eat as if from scratch. I also wanted to persuade my children that vegetables, fruit and herbs were not the bad guys.
So I blended these ingredients with healthy oils and premium vinegars, to create a range of fresh, raw sauces. My family were the tasting panel for the recipes.
In 2016, I got a £25,000 government start-up loan to launch my business from my kitchen. That year I took my home-made products to The Allergy Show and was approached by retailers, who said ‘no one else is doing what you’re doing’. That gave me confidence.
I began researching the cold press process, which meant I could keep out any man-made additives. In November 2017, after a crowdfunding campaign to raise £47,000, we launched a range of cold-pressed sauces under the label The Saucy Affair.
A year later I was thrilled to launch in Sainsbury’s, but I had to pull out in 2019 as I had no funding for marketing and my manufacturing partner wasn’t able to meet product specification.
Then, through crowdfunding platform Seedrs, we raised £189,000 to deliver a rebrand of Tanya’s Just Real. I found a new, Dutch manufacturer, Pascal Processing, which specialises in high-pressure processing (HPP). This uses pressure equal to three elephants standing on a grape!
In 2020, Waitrose agreed to stock all six sauces. The different flavours are inspired by global cuisine; my love of Japan was the motivation behind Cucumber Blunder, while Smokey Cokey came from my husband’s weakness for American foods and BBQs.
Chefs including Antony Worrall Thompson are fans of my sauces, which is wonderful. But what I love is seeing kids choose them as an alternative to ketchup.