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Updated: May 29, 2024

Small Business Pulse: Despite inflation, Boothbay food entrepreneur aims for slow but steady growth

Small Business Pulse interviewee Cherie Scott of Mumbai to Maine Photo / Heidi Kirn, Courtesy / Mumbai to Maine Cherie Scott, the founder of the Mumbai to Maine brand of Indian simmer sauces, says that her biggest business challenge is managing strategic growth.
About Mumbai to Maine LLC 
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For the last installment of our special series during Small Business Month, we checked in with Cherie Scott, the founder of Mumbai to Maine, a brand of gourmet Indian simmer sauces sold at retailers including SoPo Seafood, a market and raw bar in South Portland, and Rosemont Market & Bakery. She runs the business from her home in Boothbay.

Mainebiz: What is your biggest business challenge today and why?
Cherie Scott: Mumbai to Maine launched in December 2020, entering its fourth year. As to be expected, the biggest challenge I’m facing is managing strategic growth, during a period of high inflation, as a self-funded startup. Wholesale accounts are always expanding, but my focus remains on growing my direct-to–consumer channel nationwide as I get full retail value for every jar sold.

MB: How are rising prices of ingredients and supplies affecting your business, and what adjustments have you had to make in response?
CS: Every aspect of my business has faced a cost increase: ingredients, jars, shipping and of course labor. The simmer sauces are a premium product to begin with, so it’s been an additional challenge maintaining those margins. I’ve stayed true to my price, neither raised nor lowered them since the day I launched the line. Increasing volume might provide better margins,  but that also comes with additional investment. I grew quickly during the pandemic. Now, sustaining a slow but steady growth period is tricky and necessary, especially during a period of high inflation.

MB: What’s your business outlook or the rest of the year and why? 
CS: I’m feeling highly optimistic for Q3 and Q4 with a new line launching in Q4 and an innovative product that will be the first of its kind on the market launching in Q1 of 2025.

MB: What are your growth or expansion plans?
CS: I am working on expanding in the Northeast — one state, one region at a time. Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts specialty stores are exactly where I want to be for wholesale accounts currently. Mumbai to Maine' debut simmer sauce collection recently won 'Best New Specialty Product, Second Place,' at the largest trade show in New England. Saying yes to every inquiry is tempting after a successful show, but I know it’s in my best interest to avoid over-promising and focus on achievable goals.

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