5 Tips to Carry Into 2023

5 Tips to Carry Into 2023

To say that 2022 was a rollercoaster year is a vast understatement. Everybody was rushing to rebuild, recalibrate and rectify post-pandemic, while most of us want to start fresh in 2023.

Fortunately, I’ve witnessed some fantastic successes in the craft food industry. Whether restaurants, catering, or packed foods, the food business has taken a massive hit over the past two years. So it’s inspiring to see - and be part of - stories of overcoming obstacles and crises averted.

This episode chronicles stories from five specialty food & beverage businesses. Listen to the practical lessons from these good food brands:

  • Edwards Smokehouse: the value of sticking to the principles of being a good food steward
  • Back Pocket: maximizing the off-season to connect with your network of suppliers
  • JoyeBell’s: strategically switching from a small bakery brand to a manufacturing business model amidst a crisis
  • Nopalera: understanding the retailer you are choosing to partner with
  • Crescent Simples: how strategic investment in design helps grow sales

I am sharing tips from these five brands that have succeeded in retail while staying true to their commitment to locally-sourced quality ingredients with responsible, ethical practices. I hope it inspires you to do the same. Because when we are authentic and stay true to our commitment to the good food economy, it’s the consumers who end up being the winners.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Stay focused on heritage, organic, and quality ingredients
  • Form strong partnerships with your farmers
  • Recognize that getting into retail chains takes a LOT of time, so plan for slow growth.
  • Do your homework and choose those retail partners wisely
  • Invest in good package design to be sure that your hard-won spot on the shelf continues to work hard for you

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            Full Transcript:

            Note: We use AI transcription so there may be some inaccuracies

            [00:00:00] Georgiana Dearing: Getting producers to understand what you need ahead of time can keep your supply chain running smooth. But the truth is growth often happens much more slowly than you expect.

            [00:00:16] Georgiana Dearing: Welcome to the Virginia Foodie Podcast where we lift a lid on the craft food industry and tell the stories behind the good food, good people, and good brands that you know and love. If you've ever come across a yummy food brand and wondered how did they do that? How did they turn that recipe into a successful business?

            [00:00:35] Georgiana Dearing: Then we've got some stories for you.

            [00:00:41] Georgiana Dearing: Hello foodies. I'm George Steering founder of va foodie.com, and I provide. Marketing strategy and coaching for good food brands. And thank you for joining me on the last podcast of the year. I don't know about you, but 2022 was a roller coaster year. Everyone wants to be on the far side of the pandemic, but so many aspects of 2020 shutdowns have had a very long tail.

            [00:01:07] Georgiana Dearing: And I, for 1:00 AM ready to turn the calendar over and start fresh in 2023. How about. But in spite of everything, we've had some amazing successes in the craft food industry. The latest report from the Specialty Food Association states that in 20 22, 70 6% of consumers reported buying specialty food and beverage, and that's the highest ever.

            [00:01:33] Georgiana Dearing: Those numbers keep growing. 86% of millennials say they are likely to buy specialty food, and that's up 6% from last year. Now to put that in context for you, those millennials are becoming middle-aged shoppers. They're settling down and they're raising kids and moving into higher paying jobs. All of that allows that bubble of shoppers to expand on shopping with their values and not just for value prices.

            [00:02:03] Georgiana Dearing: And that's good news for you. So today I am gonna share some of the top tips in inspiring stories from past guests on the show. I've got five examples of successful brands that are true to their commitment to quality ingredients that are sourced ethically, and they're selling their products in retail.

            [00:02:24] Georgiana Dearing: Now I'm a firm believer in right-sizing your company, and not all craft food brands can or should expand to a larger corporate platform. But if you envision your craft food brand growing into a nationally recognized name, then this first clip demonstrates that value of sticking to the principles of being a good food.

            [00:02:48] Georgiana Dearing: When I spoke with Sam Edwards from Edwards Smokehouse, he shared with me how his commitment to heritage breed pork revived the business and helped them become a nationally recognized brand. The clue to his success lies with his direct connection with the farmers working to build a steady supply of cuts for their exclusive siro product, a regional ham style that competes and wins at international competitions.

            [00:03:22] Georgiana Dearing: You mentioned something in there that piques my. You sort of segued into talking about partnering with chefs, but also with heritage breed producers. So can you talk a little bit about your relationship with them? I mean, you're a cured meats company, and were you talking about getting some of your partners to helping them provide fresh, or Let's talk about that for a minute.

            [00:03:45] Georgiana Dearing: Back in 

            [00:03:45] Keith Roberts: 2003, four and five, we were really looking for pork that reminded us of the pork. Pre-industrial, because the leaner generation pork that was being raised, focused on in the nineties wasn't conducive to producing dry cured meats like we do. So I was literally on the phone trying to find farmers to raise.

            [00:04:04] Keith Roberts: I called fatter pork, so I stumbled across this guy. I can't remember if he found me or I found him. He actually is in Brooklyn, New York, but he had put together about 20 farms in the Midwest. That were raising Pasture Ray certified Humane Breed specific Berkshires, red, waddles, Tamworth, Kloster, old spots.

            [00:04:25] Keith Roberts: Right. Which are again, pre-industrial breeds all certified Humane. Mm-hmm. . We literally were going out there about once a year. To meet with the farmers, typically in a van full of Chefs , which was kind of harmful to my 

            [00:04:42] Georgiana Dearing: health, but that sounds like a movie. It was a lot of fun. A van full of chefs . 

            [00:04:46] Keith Roberts: Yeah, it was a lot of fun, , and it was usually in February in Missouri.

            [00:04:51] Keith Roberts: It's cold anyway, but it did prove a point that it made sense to use those breeds. What opened my eyes was tasting animals that were mainly treated from beginning to end, including at the harvest process because they produce enzymes right at the end. If they don't handle correctly, that impact the flavor profile of the fresh port negatively.

            [00:05:15] Keith Roberts: Right, and which in turn impacts the cured taste of the pork. So anyway, we made, long story short, they didn't have a problem getting rid to the pork chops and the bellies and the trim and things like that, but it was a struggle to get rid of the hams because there aren't many people that can take a whole muscle like that.

            [00:05:30] Keith Roberts: Uhhuh, enlarge enough. I, um, so we just kind of jumped on board with that and became the largest user of hams in the country of that inherited breed pork. And not only that besides the guy in Brooklyn, but others started calling us that we became known for with the Siriano products. It was originally kind of folded it back into the Edwards brand label.

            [00:05:53] Keith Roberts: We were doing bacon and sausage and ham, but the chefs demand for the bellies, but couldn't compete with what they were willing to pay for the belly. So , we got out of the curing bacon because the chefs kept jacking the price up on the fresh bell. 

            [00:06:11] Georgiana Dearing: Well, I am so glad I asked this question because I didn't really realize your history with the heritage breed.

            [00:06:18] Georgiana Dearing: That's just really fascinating. 

            [00:06:20] Sam Edwards III: It's really kind of triple fold. I mean, as Sam mentioned, you know, bringing pork back to what it was pre-industrial, basically what you know mm-hmm. , the quality of the hog itself back in the day. Certainly to support the small farmers out. Which is huge. These are small family farmers.

            [00:06:34] Sam Edwards III: This is what they do for a living, competing against the big five as far as commercial hog producers out there. And most importantly, another big piece to that was the three diversity. When you consider, I guess it was 2010, we had a little equine or porcine bug floating around the states and the pork market went nuts.

            [00:06:54] Sam Edwards III: And that's what can happen when you're producing umpteen million head a. We're maintaining that diversity so important just to the overall food chain. 

            [00:07:03] Georgiana Dearing: Mm-hmm.

            [00:07:07] Georgiana Dearing: the key benefit of farmers working with manufacturers of packaged food brands is that one connection can lead to one very large sale. Essentially selling a bigger portion of their total output. Home shoppers can only buy so much at a time and chefs will serve more people, but they're still limited by their menu and their seating capacity.

            [00:07:30] Georgiana Dearing: Edward's Smokehouse keeps heritage breed pork profitable because they buy parts of the pig that most chefs can't take in for their restaurant. That kind of collaboration with farmers can happen in farmer's markets or by traveling directly to the farms. And in my next clip, will Gray explains how his brand back pocket provisions uses the down season, the off growing times to connect with farmers and to plan production for the next year.

            [00:08:07] Georgiana Dearing: The 

            [00:08:08] Will Gray: goal in designing products is to create new opportunity. Small scale farms and not just more opportunity, although that's wonderful and important, but we were trying to find new things that were accessible to the smallest farms and still relevant to sort of mid-scale agriculture. Mm-hmm. . And so one way that we found we could do that is by building a market for seconds.

            [00:08:33] Will Gray: Seconds are like fruits and vegetables that are the wrong size and shape, maybe for a farmer's market shopper or maybe for a grocery store buyer, but for a bloody Mary maker, that's secret ingredient . And honestly, one of the funny things that we've learned is that way more often than I expected, the imperfection.

            [00:08:53] Will Gray: This is a podcast. So the quote imperfection, with air quotes. The thing that's wrong with the tomato is that it's too ripe because it's perfectly ready to eat today. It can't wait on the shelf. Oh, for you to pick it up at the local market, it won't travel well. Right. And so it's been kind of funny. Like for us, that's our most important speck when we're talking to farmers is it's like send the stuff that's ready right now.

            [00:09:19] Will Gray: And we've been able to make little sort of operational decision. To try to support that so a small farmer can take their stuff to market, they can sell through everything they're gonna sell on a Saturday, and know that on Monday, everything that's left, they're gonna ship to us. Or for a wholesale grower selling to a grocery store, they know that they're gonna send their wholesale route on Thursday.

            [00:09:41] Will Gray: They don't have another truck until Monday. And so everything in the middle that they might not have a home for, we. Wow, 

            [00:09:47] Georgiana Dearing: that seems like a complex network. Is it difficult to source that way? Yes, , 

            [00:09:54] Will Gray: yes, absolutely. I sometimes joke that it is either the really good idea or the really stupid idea in the center of back pocket provisions.

            [00:10:02] Will Gray: I'm a proud operations nerd, and for me, that's what makes it fun. It is logistically complic. . It is not the easiest solution, but I think because of that, we're able to do things a little bit differently and create a planning cycle that brings a lot of value to us. Works really well for our farmers. Sets us apart on the shelf.

            [00:10:24] Will Gray: Mm-hmm. , and when everything goes perfectly, the customer is never the wiser. It is our mission and our decision to source seasonally. That's our problem to solve. Mm-hmm. . And so in a perfect. Everything still runs smooth. The customer just orders and is none the wiser. Of course, it never goes perfectly and I do have to admit I've absolutely tried, especially this time of year.

            [00:10:47] Will Gray: This is the toughest time when we are the furthest from harvest, but it's warm outside and people are starting to be like, I do wanna bloody Mary. I might gently push you towards a different thing. I'll be like, yeah, I know that you want the bloody Bangkok, I see that, but like I think your customers are really, really gonna enjoy the bloody ba.

            [00:11:05] Will Gray: Oh, . It's a harder way of building a supply chain. Yeah. But it's a way of building a supply chain that serves all of the partners and not just those at the end. 

            [00:11:14] Georgiana Dearing: Yeah. So you kind of touched on something there, which was sourcing, like if you're trying to sell year round, how far away are you drawing these tomatoes and how are you gonna scale this?

            [00:11:26] Will Gray: Yeah, that is a very, very good question. Suffice to say, I won't bore you with the long version because that would require quite a few glasses of wine to get through. I think to the question of our sourcing radius. So we started as being, like we said, Virginia grown when the reality was, I mean it was like 30 miles or less because it was farmers that we were friends with and we didn't that much we grew into across Virginia.

            [00:11:50] Will Gray: Virginia has excellent biodiversity of grow. So we can start in the sort of warmer sandier, climbs east and sort of roll with the season all the way up into the mountains. Mm-hmm. and get pretty long tomato season. We just started piloting through a group of local food hubs, like local food aggregators called the Eastern Food Hub Coalition.

            [00:12:13] Will Gray: And we just started dipping a toe into North and South Carolina to do some like Carolina grown collaborations, Uhhuh . And so we're hoping that's an exciting sort of long-term development 

            [00:12:24] Georgiana Dearing: plan. So we're talking in May, and you're talking about the season not being ready yet for Virginia Tomatoes. So will that Carolina connection extend you a little bit earlier in the year to getting tomatoes?

            [00:12:37] Will Gray: Yeah, the sort of way that the cycle works to some. Is we start on our end and we say, these are our strategic goals, or these are our sales targets for the year, and then now it's the off season. We go out to our farmer network and say, what do you have? What would you need to be able to grow this? And we put together a production plan to make sure that our goals and their goals are supporting each other.

            [00:13:07] Georgiana Dearing: So did you hear that tip about strategic product planning in there with back pocket will is making connections and collaborating with his vendors so that his growth keeps pace with his farmer's capacity. Getting producers to understand what you need ahead of time can keep your supply chain running smoothly.

            [00:13:28] Georgiana Dearing: But the truth is growth often happens much more slowly than you expect. And Joy BeMore got a real dose of waiting when she made that pandemic pivot to focus on selling joy bell's sweet potato pies as retail products instead of selling to restaurants. Listen to her, share how she got her. Start with Food Lion.

            [00:13:56] Georgiana Dearing: Well, now you're in Hatched down in R V A, which is great. And you did that because you're in Food Lion now, is that right? Yes. Well, we 

            [00:14:05] Joye B. Moore: went to a commercial. We began in kitchen time, but is in Henrico in 2019. And then they went out of business at the end of that year, just as we had gotten in there. Good.

            [00:14:15] Joye B. Moore: They went out of business. So we moved to Hatch in December of 2019 because we were at the market at 25th Street at the time, and a few restaurants around town. Cause we started out in the dairy bar, which was right across the street from. The job where my position was eliminated, and the last week that I was there, I went across the street and I was talking to the owners of the dairy bar and letting 'em know I wouldn't see 'em anymore anytime soon.

            [00:14:43] Joye B. Moore: They like, well, whatcha gonna do? I said, well, I think I'm gonna try to sell my sweet potato pies. And they were like, come on, bring them on in here. Bring them in. Bring me some tart, some slices. That's where I got my start. The dairy bar gave me my start. Oh, that, that's crazy. And I saw that it could be really done.

            [00:14:59] Joye B. Moore: It wasn't just a dream or maybe that people would actually buy it outside of friends. And then we got into the market at 25th Street, moved over into Hatch. The pandemic hit and our lives were changed forever. , 

            [00:15:15] Georgiana Dearing: uh, speaking of the pandemic, how did that impact your business? I mean, I know that you're recently into food lines, so was there some overlap there or how did that impact you and your sister Right, produces with you?

            [00:15:27] Georgiana Dearing: My whole 

            [00:15:27] Joye B. Moore: family does. I could not do this without, Because I'm on production 80% during the day, and then I'm doing administrative work until about midnight, sometimes one o'clock in the morning, which is the development side, respondent emails, trying to grow the business. So when the pandemic hit, we were less than six months old.

            [00:15:50] Joye B. Moore: Or had launched in less than six months launched, but we were doing great. We had just come off during the Today Show that happened December 17th, so we had a little momentum from that where we've learned since then. The Christmas sales are a little slower than Thanksgiving sales. However, in 2019 when we did the Today Show, the sales were great for Christmas.

            [00:16:11] Joye B. Moore: Mm-hmm. , so we were riding half of that, but we didn't know. First quarter, you know, sales usually dip and things like that. So we had the first dip and I'm like, oh my God, this is not gonna work. It's not gonna sustain past the holidays, . And we joined a couple of local organizations, the Metropolitan Business League, retail Merchants Association, real Local rva.

            [00:16:36] Joye B. Moore: We joined several organizations that as soon as the pandemic. We were receiving realtime information about resources and about that word pivot that was just floating. Everyone needs to pivot. Yeah. 

            [00:16:51] Georgiana Dearing: You know, it's like, 

            [00:16:55] Joye B. Moore: I was like, okay. One. I know Pivot means to stop turnaround, going another direction. I knew the basic thing about Pivot, but then being new to the food and beverage business, and then I hadn't even figured out who we were in the space yet, and then we had to pivot.

            [00:17:12] Joye B. Moore: Mm-hmm. . Okay. So with all this real time information and resources that were coming in, we took that and learned that it was the perfect, the pandemic was horrible for everyone. Yes. So I'm not saying that, I'm saying that in the midst of that storm, it was a blessing for joy Bells. To have to stop, stand still and take a look around.

            [00:17:35] Joye B. Moore: Cause we had lost all of our restaurant accounts, right? Cause they were closed, they were considered non-essential, right? So we're thinking we were, had just gotten into the market at 25th Street and we're like, okay, wow. So they didn't close. They're considered essential. And then we thought about it, okay, moving forward, we don't know what's gonna happen.

            [00:17:53] Joye B. Moore: We don't know if anything is gonna open back up. So what's the new plan? And that's when it hit us. And we realized that we were going to be manufacturers, wholesale manufacturers. 

            [00:18:05] Georgiana Dearing: That term 

            [00:18:06] Joye B. Moore: never even crossed my mind. Mm-hmm. prior to Covid, it never crossed my mind prior to pivoting. And then once we did that and we joined mm-hmm.

            [00:18:15] Joye B. Moore: you remember me talking about RangeMe on the real local RVA podcast and foodline found us there. Oh, good. They reached out. This was at the beginning of March. In 2020, right when the pandemic and everything was shutting down, and I promise you I was emailing or reaching out every week trying to get a response beyond that very first.

            [00:18:39] Joye B. Moore: Hello, I would like to learn more about Joe Bes Sweet Potato Pies. And we didn't get a response back until 

            [00:18:47] Joye B. Moore: June or July. Yeah, yeah. Just the initial response. But still in the midst of all of that, we figured out that we were manufacturers, wholesalers, and that we lived in that world and that we wanted to go out through grocery stores and chains or essential clients.

            [00:19:03] Joye B. Moore: And lo and behold, I mean, it was exactly where God wanted us to be, what lane he needed us to be in, in order for us to be able to work. And it was amazing once we slowed down, figured that out, went through the arrangement account and started reaching out to other grocery stores. They still were not responding due to the pandemic.

            [00:19:25] Joye B. Moore: Everyone was, no, we're not doing this. We're not doing that. Well, I'll 

            [00:19:28] Georgiana Dearing: tell you, it's slow anyway. Like an average response from first touch to being in store could be nine months to a year. Honestly, in the retail world. Well, we 

            [00:19:39] Joye B. Moore: learned that , that's what we learned with Food Lion because when we actually talked to them, I think it was early July, and then they were like, Hey, we wanna bring you in.

            [00:19:48] Joye B. Moore: So we're excited. We fill out the vendor forms, you know, do everything you need to do because this is your world, so you know what I mean? The new vendor onboarding, this is my new learned group. The vendor onboarding, Uhhuh . And we started those conversations in July of 2020 and we did not get in store, uh, products on the shelf until we launched April 30th, 2021.

            [00:20:14] Joye B. Moore: Yeah. In Food Lion. Yeah. So that's how long it took. And look, we learned a valuable lesson and for anyone else that's out. Newbies like me listening, we get excited. Yes. We're so excited about all the great things that are happening. Food line is gonna put us on the shelf baby. Right? So we everything And we're all on social media.

            [00:20:36] Joye B. Moore: Yeah. We'll be in food in time for Thanksgiving. That did not happen . So, yeah. Cause I could hear my mom saying, she used to always say, don't embarrass your. I will not be embarrassed. Don't embarrass your mother. Right? . So all I could hear was I'll not be embarrassed, , you know? Cause it didn't happen, right?

            [00:20:58] Joye B. Moore: Yeah. And so I'm in the kitchen, I'm making pies, pushing carts. Got my hair plug in my ear. And I'm walking around pushing baskets and making pies going, hi, this is Joy B Moore with Joy Bell, sweet potato pies, blah, blah, blah, blah. Long story short, we got into Elwood Thompson. Yeah, good food, groceries, and little greenhouse.

            [00:21:19] Joye B. Moore: So we got into all of those places, which softened the blow for us. I don't think anyone else in the other audience really cared, but for us, it lessened the blow. 

            [00:21:31] Georgiana Dearing: Yeah, but you are in Food Line now. How many food line stores are you in? We're in 45 

            [00:21:37] Joye B. Moore: RVA Central RVA Food Line stores. 

            [00:21:40] Georgiana Dearing: Ooh, that's a number 

            [00:21:41] Joye B. Moore: it.

            [00:21:50] Georgiana Dearing: Now, before we go on, I wanna call attention to that timeline for Food Lion. They contacted Joy Bells through RangeMe in March of 2020, and their first product did not hit Foodline shelves until April of 2021. That took an entire year, and fortunately, joy kept moving forward and use the time in between to sign up multiple boutique grocery stores like Elwood Thompson and the Market at 25th.

            [00:22:19] Georgiana Dearing: But I can say that the Food Lion relationship has really paid off for. Just a few weeks before this recording, she announced that they are now sold in all 1100 Food Lion stores across the country, and there's even bigger news than that. Joy Bell's Sweet potato pies. Were also picked up by Sam's Club, and if you scope out any movie trailers this holiday season, you might see a familiar.

            [00:22:48] Georgiana Dearing: Sam's Club partnered with Kevin Hart to create a movie trailer called Mary Like This, and our very own Joy Bmore has a cameo in that short film. It is super cute and it's a fun idea for an ad campaign. Joy Success brings up another point about strategic planning, and that's understanding the retailer you are choosing to partner.

            [00:23:13] Georgiana Dearing: I talked with Sandra Velazquez about healthy distributor relationships. She owns Nopa, which is a beauty brand, but it's also focused on those quality ingredients. She worked for years in grocery and she had some startling insights about grocery relationships that she had used in some training with food brands.

            [00:23:35] Georgiana Dearing: But she brought to our conversation these insights that I think are really important for you to think. as you make steps into retailer relationships.

            [00:23:51] Georgiana Dearing: So you kind of already had a sense of what, well, if you had the end in mind, then you had a sense of what scale was gonna look like for you. Yeah. Is there anything else that you can think of that it was like a surprise to you when you started dealing with retail partners in beauty or in grocery? Ah, that's a trick question.

            [00:24:08] Georgiana Dearing: You just said you're going into Whole Foods, so how about grocery? Well, no, 

            [00:24:12] Sandra Velasquez: cause I've dealt with Whole Foods before, multiple times through other brands cuz I was a CPG sales rep, so I worked for Vanu and Ice Cream, I worked for High Bar, I worked for Master Brothers Chocolate, I worked for a beverage company so, I was well versed in the trenches of New York grocery.

            [00:24:25] Sandra Velasquez: Right. And beauty is totally different. It is very, very different. It is a completely different vertical. There are no distributors. The margins are much, much higher for everyone in grocery, the margins are so, so, so small. It's actually painful to watch because I still teach district 1 0 1 to grocery students and you know, if you're making a drink that you're selling for 2 99, there's only so low that you can go to make this product.

            [00:24:47] Sandra Velasquez: Right. So we're talking like you're making sense. Whereas in beauty, the standard margin and beauty for a brand is an 80 margin. 

            [00:24:54] Joye B. Moore: Whoa. And 

            [00:24:55] Sandra Velasquez: that is, you have to start there. Because if you're gonna do business with the Sephoras and the creators of the world, they take a 60 margin. Oh my. It's a totally different world.

            [00:25:04] Sandra Velasquez: So this is why I'm, you know, I have this kind of split teaching, right? Because I can't really teach beauty founders the same way that I teach food and beverage founders. It really depends on where you're trying to sell. Yeah. And that again, Sorry to sound like a broken record, but beginning with the end in mind, where are you trying to sell this product?

            [00:25:19] Sandra Velasquez: Because there are food brands that also can sell at boutiques, right. And so it really depends on, like, mass Brothers is a great example. They're technically a food brand, right? They make a chocolate and they sell at Wegmans, they sell at the lifestyle boutique on the corner that sells clothing and candles.

            [00:25:33] Sandra Velasquez: Mm-hmm. , they sell, they're selling gift subscription boxes. And so if you have one of those specialty food items that can fit into different channels, then fantastic. Because grocery is the worst in my opinion. It is the worst because you get forced to work with distributors. The margins are low. You're dealing with like 30,000 skews in a store, versus being in a boutique that has, I don't know, 90, maybe , right?

            [00:25:54] Sandra Velasquez: So I don't ever have to go merchandise my product. I don't have those pains that food and beverage founders have when you're selling into a store like Publix or Fresh Time or Sprouse or Whole Foods, that they have thousands and thousands of skews on shelf and you easily get lost. So grocery is really d.

            [00:26:10] Georgiana Dearing: So you talked about your teaching being split, and I know that you're changing a few things going forward because I get your emails mm-hmm. and you're very good at communicating about what's next. So I'm just wondering what is the next thing that you're gonna be doing beyond no Polar 

            [00:26:27] Sandra Velasquez: with in terms of, you know, teaching and mentoring?

            [00:26:29] Sandra Velasquez: I mean, recently I started hosting this Mentor Monday's series on the Nopa Instagram channel, and I got a lot of questions from new founders and fellow founder. And a lot of them, they ask the same things, which is like, how do you get into wholesale? Again? It's like the answer is what I told you. The answer is not.

            [00:26:46] Sandra Velasquez: There's no trick about getting into wholesale, that how you get into wholesale is that you have to do your homework and study the market because when you go present, you should be asking yourself, why do those wholesale accounts want you? Oh yeah, that's the question you should be asking yourself. Like, okay, if you make a ketchup, why does that store need another ketchup?

            [00:27:01] Sandra Velasquez: What is it about your ketchup that is gonna bring them an opportunity for revenue? 

            [00:27:05] Georgiana Dearing: Or I even flip that and say, is that wholesaler one? That's right for your 

            [00:27:09] Sandra Velasquez: ketchup? Oh yes, a hundred percent. Always. All stores are not good and all stores are not the right stores for your product. But you have to do market research, right?

            [00:27:17] Sandra Velasquez: Because none of us create our product or exist in a silo. So this is again, where deciding in advance where you're trying to go and then doing the research at those retailers. If I said I'm gonna create a beauty brand and I wanna sell it at Target, that would've been a different market comparative analysis.

            [00:27:33] Sandra Velasquez: Mm-hmm. , because now we're talking completely different price points. Mm-hmm. , and we're talking about a big box store that has a lot of much bigger beauty section versus Credo Beauty, which is very curated and. So again, it's always about researching where you're the market and the competition at where you're trying to go and everything is about positioning.

            [00:27:55] Georgiana Dearing: Did those beauty margins make you wanna change industry? It's kind of crazy, isn't it? I don't blame you, but the truth is that craft food brands are gaining in popularity and they're gaining power at the shelf. And speaking of that shelf power, this last clip is a very short follow up about our friends at Cresent Simples.

            [00:28:16] Georgiana Dearing: That's one of my early interviews. But I followed up with them to hear about this super secret project that they had in the works.

            [00:28:32] Georgiana Dearing: My original interview with Bill and Megan took place in November of 2020, so I thought I'd reach out to find out how they fared over the past year. That big project that was underway was a complete package overhaul with watermark design out of Charlottes. The new packaging was launched at the start of 2021 just a few months after our interview.

            [00:28:53] Georgiana Dearing: This is a direct quote from Megan Miller. The logo and packaging update is the single best investment we've ever made. I'd say both personally and professionally. It changed our business entirely. She reports that once the new packaging hit the shelves, their products sold much better in stores that already carried them.

            [00:29:13] Georgiana Dearing: Plus the new design helped them land new opportunities as well. With my roots in graphic design, this news just warms my heart. Design really is a function of business, and I love to hear success stories like this. The team also used Stella's Grocery and Ellwood Thompson's out of Richmond as local representatives of their target retail relationship.

            [00:29:35] Georgiana Dearing: Megan feels that landing those new accounts is definitely attributed to the new label system and winning them became a springboard to other markets. You can now find Crescent simples in more than 80 stores across 14 states now, bottling in a week what they used to bottle in a month. Megan and Bill are looking toward their next big step for growth, finding their own production space.

            [00:29:59] Georgiana Dearing: Having that space will allow them to expand their business beyond simple syrups to other bar products, which is all part of their. I'm so pleased with all of their news, and I hope you found some inspiration in the story of a company that's moving slowly but steadily from a small home kitchen to farmer's markets, then a co-packer, and now on to bigger and better things.

            [00:30:26] Georgiana Dearing: Now, I loved hearing about package design and how clearly it impacted their sales. As a graphic designer, I thought it was great for you to. That your packaging should be doing all the work that it can for you at the shelf, but I hope you found something in all of these inspiring stories that you can carry into 2023.

            [00:30:47] Georgiana Dearing: And here's those five tips again. First, stay focused on sourcing heritage, organic, and quality ingredients. Make sure to form strong partnerships with your farmers and other vendors. Recognize that getting into retail chains takes a lot of time. So plan your growth accordingly and do your homework and choose those retail partners wisely.

            [00:31:12] Georgiana Dearing: Is a lot of work to get into a store and you wanna make sure that the ones you're in are the ones that are really gonna sell your brand the best. And lastly, invest in good package design to be sure that the hard one spot on the shelf is really working hard for you. And that's a wrap on this last marketing Monday of 2022.

            [00:31:36] Georgiana Dearing: And if you enjoy the show, please consider leaving a review wherever you listen. It helps me spread the word, which helps me continue to help you. And thank you for listening, and I will see all of you good foodies in the new year. Thanks for listening. And if you wanna learn more about how to grow your own food brand, then click.

            [00:31:57] Georgiana Dearing: Grow my brand@vafoodie.com. If you're a lover of local food, then be sure to follow us. We are at VA foodie on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Join the conversation and tell us about your adventures with good food, good people, and good brands.