Meghan launches debut American Riviera Orchard product

Tracy Robbins, a Los Angeles-based fashion designer, posted a picture of the jam on her Instagram
Tracy Robbins, a Los Angeles-based fashion designer, posted a picture of the jam on her Instagram

The Duchess of Sussex could be certain of one thing as she dispatched her first batch of strawberry jam; the reviews would be gushing.

As the public was offered its first glimpse of Meghan’s new lifestyle brand, the carefully curated group of high-profile, high-net-worth friends chosen to whip up initial interest did not disappoint.

The Duchess sent up to 50 jars of strawberry jam from her new business venture, American Riviera Orchard, to a select few who were acutely aware of what was expected of them.

“Strawberry jam makes me happy,” trilled her friend, Argentine socialite Delfina Balquier, on Instagram. “And I love your jam, @‌AmericanRivieraOrchard.”

The post was accompanied with a picture of Meghan’s jam jar, artfully displayed on a pretty breakfast table.

The jar, labelled 10/50, was covered in white fabric and tied with ribbon.

The jam was spread on a slice of toast alongside a handful of cut strawberries.

The Duchess of Sussex during visit to the Hubb Community Kitchen in London
The launch follows claims that the Duchess of Sussex is planning to 'take on America's most famous lifestyle queens' - Chris Jackson/Reuters

Ms Balquier, who is married to Prince Harry’s polo playing friend Nacho Figueras and has described the Duchess as her “sister” and “polo wife”, proved a loyal friend.

As too did Tracy Robbins, the wife of Paramount Pictures CEO Brian Robbins.

“@americanrivieraorchard Breakfast, lunch and dinner just got a little sweeter,” the fashion designer wrote on Instagram, alongside a photograph of the jam jar (17/50) nestled in a basket of lemons.

“Thank you for the delicious basket!” she added.

“I absolutely love this jam so not sure I’m sharing with anyone @‌American RivieraOrchard. Thank you, M! #MontecitoGoodness #AmericanRivieraOrchard.”

The Sussexes joined Mr and Mrs Robbins at the premiere of the film Bob Marley: One Love in Jamaica in January 2024, fuelling speculation that they were courting a new TV deal with their five-year Netflix contract ending at the end of 2025.

The Duchess is no stranger to roping in famous friends to help sell her wares.

In December 2020, after investing in a Californian start-up called Clevr Blends, which makes “wellness lattes”, Meghan persuaded Oprah Winfrey to promote the product.

The broadcaster filmed herself making her “new favourite” superlatte after her “neighbor ‘M’” sent her “a basket of deliciousness!”

Ms Balquier posted a picture of the jam as an Instagram story
Ms Balquier posted a picture of the jam as an Instagram story - Instagram

The Instagram post had the desired effect, with the company quickly announcing that it had been inundated with orders.

The latest marketing ploy marks the second phase of a soft launch of American Riviera Orchard, a commercial venture promoting a domestic idyll through the sale of everything from jams, cutlery and nut butters to place mats and cookbooks.

The website was launched on March 14, with a holding page inviting supporters to join a waiting list to hear about about “products, availability and updates”.

An Instagram profile under the same handle, americanrivieraorchard, features the same gold logo and states that the page brand is “by Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex⁣⁣⁣. Established 2024”.

The logo bears a remarkable resemblance to her royal cypher, a cursive M topped with a crown.

A short video set to Nancy Wilson’s I Wish You Love showed Meghan arranging flowers, baking in a kitchen and posing in a doorway in a ballgown at what appeared to be her Montecito home.

The brand will be heavily trailed through a new Netflix show, featuring the Duchess.

Celebrate the joys of cooking

The series, announced last week by Archewell Productions, will “celebrate the joys of cooking & gardening, entertaining, and friendship”.

The at-home-style cookery show has been “curated” by Meghan and is in the early stages of production, with its title and release date to be announced in the coming months.

American Riviera Orchard’s name appears to be derived from the Sussexes’ location.

Their Montecito home boasts an orchard featuring orange, lemon and almond trees, while Santa Barbara is known as the American Riviera thanks to to its climate, food and wine culture.

The launch follows claims that Meghan is planning to “take on America’s most famous lifestyle queens” such as Ina Garten, Martha Stewart and Joanna Gaines.

She has been working on it for more than a year and is hoping it becomes her primary commercial focus in the longer term.

The “highly personal” project will reflect her own tastes and lifestyle interests. She was forced to shut down her successful lifestyle blog, The Tig, when she became engaged to Prince Harry.

The nascent brand, which is expected to be launched fully later this spring, has been compared to the California-based Flamingo Estate which sells candles, honey and soap to its wealthy customers.