It’s citrus season where I live now. Our friends’ backyard has a huge 55 year-old orange tree in it. It’s a beautiful evergreen tree. We have sat underneath it during summer-time birthday parties for shade, shared drinks around a fire pit roasting marshmallows near it during fall. And then in January, when it’s full of bright colored oranges we get to eat from it. It produces a ton of oranges, and we are always willing to take a bag or two (or three) from our friends when they are up to their ears in oranges. I will juice the oranges, slice them and serve them for every meal, and add zest to all sorts of lovely things. Our friends have gotten creative with the huge crop of oranges as well. This year, they gave us a jar of rhubarb marmalade. It sat in the cupboard for a week, until we ran out of syrup for our pancakes and then I opened the jar up. And then we practically ate it by the spoonful. I had never had rhubarb marmalade before. Being a lover of all things orange, I had no problem trying it, but I really didn’t expect to love it quite as much as I did. And I didn’t expect that we would consume the jar as quickly as we did. It was amazing, and I promptly asked them for more! I guess that I think anything with orange is pretty amazing. Which is why today I’m introducing you to Diane and Clem of Orange Clementine. Enjoy some citrus fun!
Please introduce yourself.
Clemetina Eley and Diane Parent are co-owners and founders of Orange Clementine. Diane is a fifth generation California girl from Winters, California and Clementina has lived in Fullerton and Santa Ana, Orange County since 1965 when orange groves abounded. Both Diane and Clementine raised children in Orange County having met when their children (of similar ages) attended Laguna Road elementary school in Fullerton – historical home and center of groves of Valencia oranges and other citrus crops. Diane & Clem live in Fullerton where they started building the business, Orange Clementine, incorporated in July 2011 and growing strong. Both women enjoy creating beautiful things and share a love of life in the kitchen, and home centered around family and friends. They are fun-loving Foodies by nature with a vision for building a woman-owned, iconic California business with huge future success. Summed up: a couple of ambitious zesty ladies who love life and California – working hard to build a successful business!!
What do you make or do?
Citrus inspired and infused baked goods are Orange Clementine’s specialty. California cakes are made with real and fresh California oranges and lemons – zest and juice. Our California cookies are also infused and flavored with natural flavors and orange and lemon zest. Our packaging is also our product. We package our citrus baked goods in beautiful wooden orange crates (five sizes) with iconic, collectible, California Crate labels. The image on our signature crate label that originated in the 1930s, is the essence of California.
Where can we find your creations?
You can find us on our website: www.orangeclementine.com, Orange County Farmer’s Markets (SoCo, Whittier, Orange, La Canada, Montrose, Anaheim Packing House, Irvine Great Park), events throughout California: Patchwork (we love them!), LA Cookie Con – Pasadena (Jan), Harvest Festivals (San Mateo, Pleasanton, Pomona, Del Mar, Ventura), Sugar Plum, and Santa Clarita Home & Garden Show (April).
Is there an interesting story behind the name of your business? How did the name come about?
We wanted a name that identified with California’s citrus industry and our signature citrus recipes that we would use to launch our business. Clementines (a hybrid between a mandarin and a sweet orange) became popular in California, and given that one of the owner names is Clementina, we started pondering a combination of words that could easily identify with California, and Orange County in particular. Orange Clementine has a nice ring to it, the initials OC have great meaning and are widely recognized, and citrus enjoys a happy healthy reputation – no need to explain the rest. It’s how Orange Clementine – Fine Gifts from California was born. We have since trademarked our logo and name.
How long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?
We have been at this since early 2011 and physically engaged in building the business since January 2012. It is our full time occupation but we have enjoyed the benefit of a relatively small capital investment and our sales have sustained us since we opened our doors. Thank you Orange Clementine customers!!! We love you! As far as creativity – It is hard to find time to be creative and get into SEO work when you are working 24-7 on the running of a small business. Diane & Clem are still very much involved in the daily running of the business – including setup and sales at markets and events. We do make time to experiment with new recipes (here comes gluten free and chocolate ganache cake!) and to snap nice photos for our instagram and facebook.
When you’re not making things, what do you do?
We work solidly pretty much year round but we do enjoy our traveling and foodie adventures. Diane has travelled to Russia and enjoys jaunts to the Northern California and a cruise here and there….while Clem has travelled to Utah for a kayaking trip on the Green River and will soon go to Merida to visit her daughter. Along the way, they share stories of the interesting people and cuisine they’ve experienced.
Is creativity a luxury or a necessity for you?
At this time creativity is a luxury but after a long dry spell your soul feels empty and it becomes a necessity. We make time for some fun to create and innovate – it makes us excited for the future.
What obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?
Often times entrepreneurs start with the passion that drives them but end up bogged down in the minutia and daily tasks of running a business. It is the way it is. The obstacle, for the most part, is money, capital, coin. You have to trade off time for money and that can stunt the creative process.
What’s on the horizon for you and what you do?
Diane & Clem are looking forward to growing the business to the point where they can better enjoy the fun part of building something from nothing, and creating new things in response to their customers and possibilities.
What would be your perfect day off?
A perfect recipe for a perfect day off would include a bit of reading, a foodie lunch with a good friend, an evening walk, gin and tonic, a chat and silly game full of laughter with our families.
What inspiring advice would you give to other creatives be they established or just starting out?
While your most important tool in business is a good crystal ball to predict trends and production numbers, we find that the best tools at everyone’s’ disposal are: tenacity, an appetite for learning, and continuous development of emotional growth and people skills. Tenacity keeps you focused on the long term goals to handle the prickly issues along the way, an appetite for learning keeps you current and engaged in ways to boost your business, and people skills are needed for every single business interaction. Not that we’ve “arrived”…but we use these as a road map!
Who are the makers that inspire you?
Our Pinterest boards show some of the makers who inspire us. Among them: designer Whitney Leigh Morris and young entrepreneurs Louie and Vanessa of Nohmad Snacks. And then some of our vendors of California products who create and have had businesses for many years – like Fire & Light of Arcata California who make beautiful objects from recycled glass.