Founded in 2007, owners Ned and Mina became the Head Potatoes in 2010. They have worked with a dedicated team of potato professionals, to cultivate Proper Crisps from seed to success.
The Proper Crisps story started when English couple Stuart and Kathryn Franklin decided New Zealand was being short-changed in the crisp market. They set up a fledgling business in a small food factory at Upper Moutere and Kiwis quickly fell in love with this hand crafted product, so much so they soon outgrew the premises.
However, for a couple who had poured all of their resources into starting a small business the success was a double edged sword. The business simply got too big too quickly for them so in 2011 they sold Proper Crisps to Mina Wilke-Smith and Ned Smith, who became the Head Potatoes.
Born in South Africa to an English father and a French mother, Mina’s love of food is driven by the European influences. From an early age she developed a love for different foods and travel.
Ned is a trained chef who started in the food business as a kid, where he washed the floors in a neighbour’s restaurant. Moving to California saw him switching to a bakery which he developed into a commercial cheesecake business.
After many successful years in the bakery industry, Ned and Mina decided to sell their business and travel the world for two years before buying a home in Nelson in 2010.
Ned said they were looking for investment opportunities rather than buying a business to run.
They discovered Proper Crisps, later found the business was on the market and were eventually tempted into looking at it "because I am a foodie, not because we wanted to buy it and we found a nice little setup in Upper Moutere".
Having had a very successful food business in the United States that was based on similar philosophies Mina and Ned quickly saw the potential in this crisp producer.
Stuart and Kathryn set out to make the best crisps on the planet and Ned and Mina thought they had the perfect product.
At Proper Crisps they only use natural ingredients, their flavourings aren't a list of "e" numbers and artificial additives, just real Marlborough garlic with smoked, sweet paprika or maybe Marlborough sea salt with pure cider vinegar, and it goes without saying they use natural fresh, whole potatoes too.
They have developed the business into the fastest growing snack food business in New Zealand, but most importantly it is a family established and owned business.
"Building a company is like making a family of its own, we want to create an environment where we all work hard, have fun and we all make money, no one is clock watching, if it means staying an extra 15 minutes to complete a job they will, and be happy to do it because they feel they are part of the business," Mina says.