After quitting her job in 2010, graphic designer Sumayya Alsenan decided to take some time to figure out what she wanted from her next position. In the absence of a daily routine, Alsenan started channeling her energy into the kitchen by cooking for her roommate. "I needed more and more challenging projects, and that's where the jam making started," she explains. "It took me five failed batches before I finally began to understand the chemistry of making jams. And then I couldn't stop." Alsenan's experimenting eventually evolved into a full line of preserves, which she cleverly titled Cat Lady Preserves.
As a seasoned packaging designer, Alsenan paid close attention when creating the labels for her new company. "Being my own client was very tricky, but after struggling with it, I decided to just go with a simple, flexible solution that I think feels homemade and personal," she says. The upshot is a series of simple stickers that she can adhere to each jar, which she then fills in with handwritten descriptions and pairing suggestions as well as colorful rubber stamps. This system gives Alsenan the flexibility to constantly be testing new flavors and unusual combinations like Earl Grey Peach, Basil Raspberry and Pear Saffron.
We had the pleasure of tasting some of Alsenan's preserves and our favorites included Alsenan's Classic Strawberry and Drunken Prunes, which we tried mixed into our morning yogurt and granola. We loved the perfect tartness of the fruit—not to mention the handprinted canvas bag in which the jams arrived. We also had the pleasure of experimenting with Alsenan's homemade vanilla extract which we found imparted a rich and distinctive flavor into our shortbread cookies.
Still made in small batches in Alsenan's apartment, the jams are available made to order through her Etsy shop where you can also find her vanilla extract.
Images by Kat Herriman