This Saturday, July 31, The Welle Made Co. will be at the National Landing Market, featuring homemade hand pies made with perfect, crispy pastry and stuffed with fillings like Ghana Borga, vegetable curry, and garlic rosemary chicken. The pies are perfect to enjoy while strolling through the market. We caught up with owner Rose Essiem to learn more about her story and her love for the community that food offers.
District Fray: How did baking become your passion and career choice?
Rose Essiem: I come from a long line of farmers and food entrepreneurs who for generations have grown, harvested and processed their own produce, millets, and spices in Ghana and the U.S. As a child, I watched closely as my grandmother picked moringa, jute leaves and other superfoods from our garden and cooked them down into delicious soups and stews. As a teen, I was my mother’s sous chef for years as she operated her own catering business. Food has always been the center of my world and in many ways, I’ve always known that I would return to the culinary world. I’m glad I launched [The] Welle Made Co.
And what is the story of The Welle Made Co.? How did you decide to take the plunge and start the business?
During the height of the devastating global pandemic, I was inspired to launch The Welle Made Co. to honor and celebrate my grandfather, Abudu Beacher Welle. [He was] a generous, audacious, and strong man who I deeply admired, and who taught me to value integrity and community. He was the cornerstone of our tightly knit family and community. Every afternoon after school, we would gather around one of my many favorite meals. During these formidable years, I adopted some of his eating styles—till this day, I eat Fufu with a spoon instead of with my hands (judge me!). Though our time together was short, I carry these memories and so many of the lessons that have shaped the woman I am today.
I started Welle Made Co. with a simple post in my Instagram stories. I announced to close friends and family that I was offering a batch of hand pies. Within hours, I received several orders and got a lot of great feedback. I did it again the following month and decided to officially launch the company in August 2020.
How did you decide on hand pies as the center offering for The Welle Made Co.?
Naturally, I wanted my food to spark curiosity and conversation. In every corner of the world, people enjoy some version of hand pies, and so I thought why not start with that. People are familiar with pasties, empanadas, and even beef patties, but very few people are familiar with the West African meat pie. I thought it would be a treat to offer a collection of the very best artisanal hand pies inspired by my culture to make people aware of the West African version of this beloved street food.
How has the business transformed or grown throughout the pandemic?
The business has evolved significantly since our launch. I first started offering hand pies once a month. By the end of 2020, I transitioned to a shared kitchen to expand my production, started offering local pick-up weekly, and plunged into nationwide shipping. As a result of the transition, we increased our efficiency, expanded the team, and are now focused on building an ecosystem to sustain the business beyond the pandemic. My proudest moment so far has been introducing one of the most iconic Ghanaian street foods to foodies nationwide. With our partnership with Goldbelly, I’m able to share my story, culture, and foods with food explorers everywhere.
Seeing you’re sold out almost always, what keeps you going when the demand gets crazy?
My why and my dream to expand and sustain the business keeps me going when things get crazy. I am also inspired by the invaluable lessons I am learning along the way. On bad days, I’m especially grateful for positive reviews; they let me know that I am moving in the right direction.
What was the process like in perfecting your recipes?
I consider the process of perfecting my recipes as a continuous process — it never ends. I am always looking for ways to improve my products and give them that “fresh out of the oven” feeling. It’s less about perfecting the recipe and more about empathizing with the customer’s experience and trying to perfect that. What the customer feels, sees, and tastes when they receive my product is very important to me.
What is your favorite hand pie that you make and why?
I enjoy making the Get Curried Away Hand Pie, which is our signature vegetarian hand pie that’s packed with potatoes, chickpeas, and spinach in a homemade coconut curry sauce. I love the process of sauteing the potatoes with curry, turmeric, and other fragrant spices, and slowly cooking them in the coconut curry sauce. The brightness of the turmeric and curry powder against the forest green hue of freshly sauteed spinach never gets old.
What do you look forward to in participating in the National Landing Market?
I’ve loved the community at National Landing. The people are kind and good to be around. They provide honest feedback and high praise, something that I really appreciate. I also look forward to the beautiful summer weather this upcoming weekend. The market venue feels like nirvana when the weather is nice — the perfect place to be on a weekend.
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