Going for Growth: Katie Sanderson, White Mausu

A love of food and led to Katie Sanderson forming White Mausu which makes “condiments you can’t live without.”

In this new series we talk to women entrepreneurs who have taken part in the Going for Growth programme. Going for Growth is a six-month part-time programme, supported by Enterprise Ireland and KPMG, which assists ambitious female entrepreneurs to achieve their growth aspirations.

Katie Sanderson was born in Hong Kong but moved to Ireland, where her mother is from, with her family when she started secondary school.  

“So many people were asking us about the rayu and if they could buy it so it felt like a natural progression to bring it to the market”

She met her partner Jasper O’Connor when both of them were working at The Fumbally and shared a love of cooking. They set up a restaurant in a boat shed in Connemara during their initial summers together where they used to make their version of rayu, a type of Japanese chili oil.

A passion for flavour

Blonde woman in blue denim shirt.
Katie Sanderson, founder White Mausu

“So many people were asking us about the rayu and if they could buy it so it felt like a natural progression to bring it to the market,” says Katie.

White Mausu was formally set up in 2017 and now has three condiments on sale: Peanut Rayu, Cashew Crunch and Black Bean Rayu with plans to launch new products in early 2021.

The products are sold directly into shops as well as on company’s ecommerce site, set up during the Covid pandemic.

“We also have a stall that we brought around to festivals but that is sleeping at the moment! However, when festivals start happening again, we will bring it out on the road again as it did help showcase the products,” says Katie.

Staff numbers have grown from two full-time at the start of Covid to five full-time and three part-time, with two more people joining the team in 2021. During the same time, it has grown its list of stockists from 200 stockists to 450 stockists.

“Covid allowed us to take stock and we finally launched into the UK, which we had been thinking about for so long. We also took on a sales person and that led to such an increase in demand, we had to increase the team.”

But there has also been another big change for Katie – she and Jasper and their child moved to Connemara.

“I knew I didn’t want to live in a city and when Covid hit, we decided to move between the two lockdowns. It has been so positive for the business. At the start of Going for Growth, everyone seems to be so determined about the direction of their business. I was unsure; I knew I wanted the business to grow but I wasn’t sure about my work/life balance. Moving to Connemara means I have time now to run my business, be a mum and have a healthy balance,” says Katie who adds that the company’s warehouse is still in Glasnevin and its manufacturing plant is in Westmeath.

Katie was on the 12th cycle of Going for Growth and found the support of the group – and particularly her Lead Entrepreneur, Chupi Sweetman Durney – invaluable.

“Going for Growth allowed me to take a bird’s eye view of the company and our lifestyle and think about what we wanted to for life and the business. I feel our group are like jigsaw pieces; we are all from different industries and background yet we all fit together really well. They are like extra family members who have your back and I feel like we will have business friendships for years to come.”

The aim now is to create new White Mausu products as well as add more products from other producers to the ecommerce site.

“I am really excited for the future as we are going to focus on how our business can do good and be good as well as continue to grow. We are setting ourselves goals to bring down our emissions and switch to being fully organic.”

The call is open for applications from female entrepreneurs who would welcome peer support to take their businesses to the next level by taking part in the Going for Growth programme. This is the 13th year of Going for Growth and more than 750 female entrepreneurs have so far taken part in the programme. Sixty places will be available for the 13th cycle of Going for Growth, which will run from January to June 2021 and the deadline for applications is Friday 18 December 2020. There is no charge for those selected.

Anyone interested is encouraged to register on the website goingforgrowth.com and a link to the application form will be sent to them.

Published: 16 December 2020