Meet Clara Diez
Clara is the founder, alongside her husband Adrián, of Formaje. Formaje is an e-commerce platform and community for cheese. From her shop in Madrid and her Instagram profile, Clara has opened the cheese world to the wider public.
As a "cheese activist", Clara believes in the cultural and traditional value of cheesemaking and works closely with cheese artisans.
We talked to Clara about cheese, Christmas and her business. Read the interview here.
How did it all begin? What sparkled your passion for cheese?Actually, it was an accident.
In 2014 a family friend and cheese producer offered me the chance to work together on a cheese project in Madrid. This made me dive into a new sector, and I quickly fell in love.
Artisan cheese is a small but growing universe. Working in such a small world, it makes you feel you're part of something that's constantly evolving and requires nurturing to help it grow. After I got into cheese, Adrián, my husband (boyfriend at the time), quickly got into the same process I was in. Within a few months, we were both working with Spanish producers, marketing their cheeses, helping them to gain visibility and developing export strategies.
Hence in 2020, we decided to create Formaje. Formaje was the culmination of an intense learning experience that started with our exploration of the cheese world. Formaje is the aggregation of all the knowledge we have gained, with a mission to promote artisan values.
What inspires you at work?
I really enjoy moving in between rural and urban environments. I live in the center of Madrid but all the cheese producers I work with live in rural areas. This helps me balance the speed of city life (especially as an entrepreneur). Going back to the countryside helps me connect with the natural rhythm of things and it's such a luxury to have that in my life.
What has been the greatest challenge of starting your company?
Generally speaking, it's been hard to delegate and move away from some business-related aspects. Sometimes they might look huge but you really just have to take some distance from them to gain some perspective. Another difficult thing has been working in a sector that is not well-known to the general public, which means you need to constantly rethink what you do to try and reach new audiences from a new and groundbreaking perspective.
What does Christmas mean to you? Do you have any traditions you can't go without?
Christmas for me is such an endearing season because it's the time of the year when I can meet my family and just disconnect from my routine. In a way, I come back to feeling like a little girl again and all I care about is setting the table so we can all sit together and laugh and rest. On the other hand, the Christmas season is our busiest time at Formaje; December can become quite intense and exhausting, that's why coming back home is like a well deserved gift.
If you had to choose some cheese for Christmas celebrations, which would you choose?
For Formaje, we have prepared some cheese boards with the most appropriate cheese for this season, including cheeses that are familiar to different palates, or have a surprise factor. Overall, we want cheeses that can be enjoyed by very different tastes. A good Brie is a fantastic option, Comté, Manchego (the most famous cheese in Spain) and more of our favorites that you can read about here: https://formaje.com/collections/tablas-de-quesos-para-navidad