By Julia Welstead
“Fortune or luck is my theme” Heike of Mustheb tells me as we settle in for a blether in her wonderfully warm and aromatic kitchen. I would liken this room, the heart of her mustard making adventure, to any artist’s studio or chemist’s laboratory. It’s a hub of creative experiment.
Heike’s fortune, or luck, is many layered. She was born and raised in Düsseldorf, home of the famous German mustard. Her Grandmother taught her to make mustards, pickles, preserves and ketchups, and her own mustard ventures became gifts for friends and family. In 2012 she and partner Stephan visited Scotland and, on a bit of a hunch, took the Oban to Barra ferry then travelled northwards. “We had no plans whatsoever to move” Heike emphasises, “but when we reached South Harris we had an emotional moment, and our decision was made, in that moment!”.
Back in Germany, they felt they no longer belonged. With their sensible heads on, they re-visited Harris in winter – and still loved it. December 2016 saw them make the move: a move they remain delighted with to this day.
Heike Winter is a writer, has worked as a press officer and in marketing, and is also a freelance life-coach for self-realisation, forward-looking potential, “following your heart, listening to your gut, and trusting both”. So when she dreamed the word ‘mustheb’ and wondered what that meant, and then a book she took off a shelf fell from her hands and lay open with the word ‘mustard’ staring back at her, she was tuned in and open to a new idea. Stephan said, ‘why not?’; the Business Gateway people said, ‘why not!’ and thus was Mustheb, the Hebridean Mustard Company born, in 2017.
Heike set to, developing a range of eight mustard varieties, which she sells online via isle20 and her own website, through local shops and at The Mustard Shack at Leverburgh, South Harris, where you can also enjoy a tasting session at, reportedly, the only mustard tasting tent in the world!.
Inspiration and creativity comes from, “everywhere, all the time” says Heike. “With an open heart and mind you can allow sensory inputs from the environment, nature, the seasons, life events. Aromas play a big part, evoking memories and invoking ideas. Then you filter: use the useful and release the rest”. I’ve heard similar expressed by an author, “write from the heart, edit with the mind”.
Heike’s future plans are to focus on her ever-popular mustard range, to incorporate new varieties, and to further develop collaborations with other Scottish artisan makers and growers whose ethos and mission align, such as the Scottish Bee Company. There is a whole new, purpose-built kitchen in the dream too….
Heike is herself a joy to meet, a lifter of spirits and an inspiration. If you find yourself in Harris, make a point of going to her tasting shed, it’s a delightful experience.
Treat yourself to a jar of Heike’s mustard in her isle20 shop.