In A perfect example of how hard work pays off, an ambitious Londoner is celebrating his range of barbecue sauces being stocked in one of the city’s most prestigious department stores.
Jemal ‘Big J’ Peters, whose self-named sauces carry the tagline ‘flavour of the streets’, has secured a contract with Selfridges.
He launched the products in 2012 and he is part of a wave of black entrepreneurs whose food products are making it into the mainstream.
Describing how he got started, Peters said: “I used to throw parties and big cook-ups for friends and families as a way of getting through things especially if I was stressed. I never realised food could be such a big business.”
Encouraged by friends and family, the 30-year-old south Londoner has gone from working in an office environment to being his own boss by following his passion.
“I’d always wanted my own product and business and I didn’t realise I had the answer right in front of me,” the foodie said. “I just dedicated myself to making it happen.”
Things haven’t always been smooth sailing for the aspiring businessman who admits to being involved in some “illegal activities” out of necessity rather than desire.
“I wasn’t on road to make a statement or for the hype, it was because [my family] needed things in the house,” he said. “I was the only person spending the money I made on things like a fridge and a hoover while everyone else was buying trainers and clothes.”
The lifestyle could have cost him his dreams but he attributes his change in perspective to when he became a father at 21.
He said: “My daughter is my motivation. When I look at her, I know there’s so much more to life than just thinking about myself.”
Making a bold move, Peters and his team sought premium retailers as the destination for the Big J range. “We approached Selfridges and managed to get a meeting where we pitched them the products. They hadn’t seen anything like us before that represents the cool London and the street culture we’ve cultivated.”
His line includes Sweet Street BBQ Sauce and Bezerk Jerk Sauce. But Peters says he has no particular favourite.
“I love all my kids evenly,” he laughed. “The barbeque and jerk sauce I would call the OGs [original gangsters] because they’re what I started with. But the glazes, which are brand new, are special because they’re so unique. We’ve made scotch bonnet with cherry, and scotch bonnet with peach and apricot. When people try them it has a wow factor.”
Alongside his growing business, the father-of-one dedicates a portion of his profits to OR?, a project he set up to engage young offenders and develop their entrepreneurial skills.
“It means everything to me because that’s who we are and that’s a life that we know,” he said. “I firmly believe that with the right opportunities and the right chances, any of these young people could be entrepreneurs instead of shottas [drug dealers].”
Peters said he was lucky to make it out of secondary school.
“If we had had the right people around us to support us we probably wouldn’t have made a lot of the mistakes that we made. We would have realised earlier that there were other ways to support our families without having to be on the road,” he said.
PLEASE VISIT HIS WEBSITE: WWW.BIGJSKITCHEN.COM
Article By: The Voice Newpaper