Interview with Hermione Eagle, founder of The Pished Fish

Ever dream of turning your hobby or passion into a business? Find out how former professional clown turned an interest in smoking fish into The Pished Fish by pairing top-drawer Scottish salmon with artisanal spirits and full-bodied botanicals.

What’s your career background?

I’ve worn many hats – a professional clown (don’t ask!), a Customs and Immigration Officer (in Canada), pint puller, teaching assistant, and eight years in accreditation of university degrees for professional engineering institutions, to name a few!

And your ‘Eureka’ moment?

I was working as a self-employed consultant when James and I decided to turn a hobby into something altogether more significant.

The idea for Pished Fish had been kicked around since 2014 when James started smoking fish as a hobby. We subsequently spent many nights plotting his escape from ‘corporate world and how we’d set up our very own business, albeit initially we struggled to pinpoint a cause that we both felt truly committed to.

This is about the same time we’d starting toying with how best to pair fine food with all one’s favourite alcoholic tipples.

I won’t lie, there were have been a few ‘hairy moments’ and ‘awkward silences’ along the way, the inevitable tense moments that manifest themselves when you’re setting out, making tough decisions and prioritizing shoestring budgets.

That said, the infectious, heart-warming highs associated with the infectious buzz of farmers’ markets, interacting with inquisitive and appreciative customers, spotting your hatted Fish brand logo in store and dreaming up your next product extension outweighs any short-lived bouts of self-doubt. Building something together and sharing in the various highs and lows is an adventure that neither of us would want to sidestep.

We share production duties but my area of expertise is food safety and marketing while James focuses on sales, events and exhibitions!

What’s the idea behind the The Pished Fish?

We’re simple food loving people who believe in a thriving independent food industry which champions minimally processed/clean deck ingredient produce, the resurrecting of lost skills sets and most importantly of all, the deep-rooted belief that convenience isn’t everything and sometimes the best things take a little longer to produce!

In these more food conscious days we looked at salmon and felt here was a noble fish that simply wasn’t getting the plaudits it deserved, a fish respected for it subtle flavours, velvety texture and nutrient count, but a celebratory/festive fish that hadn’t really upped its game or show-cased its more indulgent side for a few decades.

Our plan was to shine a light on salmon’s more decadent and sociable side, by celebrating salmon’s unrivalled capacity to pair majestically with best-in-class botanicals and alcoholic beverages before being delicately smoked in small batches. Above all, we wanted to salute salmon’s more mischievous side.

What’s your USP?

Booze-infused fish – the thoughtful pairing of top-drawer Scottish salmon with artisanal spirits and full-bodied botanicals.

Who is your target audience?

Any fish lovers, flexitarians or uncompromising foodies who want to sample salmon’s more pleasure-seeking side.

How do you spread the word about what you do?

Up until very recently farmers’ markets and shows (BBC Good Food) was our primary showcase because tasting is truly believing. However we’ve now spread our fins into social media, food features and all-encompassing PR. Interesting with regards all things marketing, we were able to align with another ‘fish-themed’ brand, Purple Pilchard, which just felt right!

What have been your proudest moments to date?

PR-wise: The festive round-ups in Great British Foods and Good Housekeeping were certainly proud small biz moments. But I think the thoughtful review provided by foodie blogger ‘Satedonline’ is our fav THUS FAR!

Distribution-wise: Harrods, Fortnums, Selfridges and Partridges all aligning with the Pished Fish enables us to punch well above our weight in terms of respected ‘kudos’ accounts, although our heartlands are really the independent farm shop, deli and hotel/gastro pub arenas.

Brand Wise: Our cheeky Pished Fish logo just makes us smile every time we see it on shelf!

Biggest Obstacle: Overcoming misinformed salmon prejudice for being a tad safe/predictable. Salmon has a more audacious/decadent side that we are endeavouring to toast.

What’s your top piece of advice for other entrepreneurs?

Follow your heart. Expert advice is all well and good but if you’re doing something genuinely pioneering you have to accept that despite any bluff and bluster, no-one really knows!

If we’d listened to some well-intentioned voices, our business would possess a very bland name and we’d be smoking salmon the same way as everyone else, AND we suspect swimming in shallow, overcrowded waters is no fun!

You can find out more about The Pished Fish on their website