Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Largest order so far for my gourmet sauces and condiments!

Well, my gourmet sauces and condiments continue to sell out at local stores. I'm so glad you're enjoying the delicious meals you have been able to make with my international gourmet sauces and condiments. Thank you for your business and continued support.

I received the largest order so far for my gourmet sauces and condiments from Woodstock Meats. If you have been awaiting restock of my gourmet sauces and condiments at the Emerson Country Store and Woodstock Meats, I've just made deliveries so the next time you're in the area, you can stop by your favorite local retailers and purchase my gourmet sauces and condiments.

Remember Woodstock Meats offers more than high quality meat or my gourmet sauces and condiments. You can also purchase lunch, groceries and baked goods. In fact, the next time you're there pick up a Banana Bread. It's hard to get because it sells out fast but I'm sure once you try it, you'll be hooked!

I always enjoy visiting the Emerson Country Store. Stop by this beautiful space when you're in the area and check out all their unique items produced right here in the Hudson Valley.

Good hunting!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Social media marketing for my gourmet food business

I'm by no means an expert on the subject but like everything else along my journey of entrepreneurship so far, I've been learning. So, here's my deal- I have a blog, a Facebook account and I'm Linked In but these have felt like distinct stand alone networking and marketing tools though there are characteristics in common. For some time I've been interested in learning how to pull them all together and use them more effectively for my gourmet food business.

Last week I attended the 2010 Hudson Valley Business Edge conference in Fishkill, NY. I found the conference informative overall but especially so in the area of social media marketing. I attended a session by Ric Dragon of Dragon Search Marketing which explained how these tools compliment each other and how to use them along with other tools to engage consumers better and solidify my company's online presence. For example, Ric explained that businesses should use Wordpress which is open source blogging software so a company's website traffic stays within that company's website and doesn't go out to another site. For example, I currently use blogger which hosts my blog on the blogger site so my blog's readers are actually taken to the blogger website which helps increase blogger's website traffic but not mine. I came away from Ric's session and conversations with Ric and his associate Clayton Walter with many ideas that I'd like to implement. My biggest challenge now is to find the time to do it all :) as I mentioned, my biggest immediate challenge is producing the gourmet products at a rate that keeps pace with demand.

I think it was Clayton who advised starting small, doing one thing first and going from there. So true, Clayton! One small step at a time is how I started my gourmet food business and how I've been able to grow it so far. It's a solid strategy that's certainly gotten me through. Thanks so much, guys! I will be spending some time over the next couple of weeks implementing Ric and Clayton's recommendations and suggestions and I look forward to any of your feedback or suggestions on that effort. If any other fellow entrepreneurs one out there are looking to learn more about social media marketing, I highly recommend calling Ric and his team at Dragon Search Marketing. They'll help you figure it all out.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Demand increases for my gourmet products...

It's been a while since I was able to blog. It's been pretty busy over the past couple of weeks.

Late April through May, my gourmet products were selling out fast at several local retailers including Davenport Farms, The High Falls Food Co-Op and Fleisher's Grass Fed & Organic Meats. In addition to replenishing their retail sales inventory, several retailers have also requested my gourmet products in new larger size containers for a variety of uses. For example, Kevin over at Woodstock Meats and Erica at Fleisher's Meat Market plan to use their half gallon sizes of the Caribbean Hot Sauce and Portuguese Repolho Relish to give their customers free samples. Bruce at Davenport Farm Market is offering dinner's to go and has plans to feature my gourmet products on a Caribbean themed dinner menu perhaps once each week- at $8.95 per pound, it's a pretty good deal! If you've been curious about my gourmet international sauces and condiments and you're in the area, drop by one of these retailers and try a sample or pick up dinner to go. We know once you try them, you'll want to buy.

Though I've been just thrilled that you are all enjoying my delectably savory gourmet sauces and condiments, my challenge has been how to keep up with production to meet existing demand while continuing to nurture existing client relationships (and activity I consider paramount) while also simultaneously supporting our mutual business success via development and deployment of effective marketing initiatives and visiting new stores to grow the company. That the past 6 weeks have been a whirlwind is a tremendous understatement.

I've spent a lot of time in the kitchen cooking and also on the road visiting and talking with clients. It feels rewarding to build relationships with other local business owners and work together with them in support of both our businesses. It feels like a big support group where we share ideas and explore ways to meet your needs in a way that will also meet our needs...and all the time, I've been learning, learning, learning. What a rush!

In addition to cooking and building client relationships, there are other important related tasks that I've been attending to also. For example, I had to identify the right size and type of jar for the larger quantities that would meet my retailer's needs, develop new labels for these larger sizes, cook additional product to fill these jars, register these new container sizes with the FDA and list these new sizes on my website (I'm still working on this). In addition to all this, I'm planning to be an exhibitor at the Rosendale Street Festival this July and I've had to also start getting ready for that- July is fast approaching! I've already registered for the event and got a booth but I still need to get my insurance certificate in, decide on the layout and configuration for the space and start buying the materials I'll need to set up the space while also ensuring that I have enough inventory to sell at the event (this guessed it, more cooking). I've been visiting online sites, visiting stores, pricing materials and talking with my network of experienced vendors to price and purchase those items but it's time consuming work and slow going.

So, in order to keep up with everything, I had to seriously start looking for a company to partner with to outsource the cooking. Much as I love it, it's just too time consuming for me to continue performing. I was interested in an organization similar to Hudson Valley Foodworks, a commercial and incubator kitchen in Poughkeepsie, NY that provides small and start up gourmet and specialty food producers like myself with not only kitchen space and equipment but also full scale production services. I learned that Hudson Valley Foodworks was no longer operational but that a new organization called Farm 2 Table (F2T) was providing the same services and they're located right here in Kingston NY. At Farm 2 Table's helm is Jim Highland and Luc Roels who I got to know during the time I spent working at Hudson Valley Foodworks. I had a meeting with Jes who coordinates all the activities and it looks like F2T will be able to help significantly by meeting my production needs at a reasonable price. I'll keep you posted on developments as they unfold and I'll try to not wait another 6 weeks to do that.

Finally, I wanted to share 2 things quickly before signing off...

First, some of my retail clients have some really interesting products, services, discounts and special offers that I think you might find beneficial or useful so I've decided to blog about these as they come up. Go ahead and visit the featured retailers if their products and services meet your needs and take advantage of their discounts and special offers especially on that unique or hard to find item. It would be great if you shared your experiences here not only for the benefit of other readers and also so I can know if and how these are working for you.

Next, I've heard about some of the delicious meal creations many of you have been inspired to make with my gourmet products and I'd really LOVE it if you could blog about the meals you've made and the culinary experiences you've had with my gourmet products. I think other readers would also be inspired by your recipes and may even want to make your creative meal ideas.

OK, well, that's it for now. I've had my hands full as usual but it's all good and I'm still having fun.

Here's to great tasting gourmet food and summer time fun!