In this Clients Corner article, I am very proud to feature one of my Foodpreneur clients, Patty Hayes, founder of Wine Duets. You ask, "what's a Wine Duet"?
Wine Duets … is the fun alternative to traditional 'cheese and crackers'. Each Wine Duets cookie is made to pair with certain wine varietals for super yumminess. Wine Duets invites you to get together, share and savor life. You know, the simple pleasures of friends, laughter, tasty wine and yummy goodies, what could be better!
So let's chat with Patty on how she started on her first food entrepreneurial journey… Getting Out of the Kitchen
What was the light bulb moment that drove you to develop Wine Duets?
I wouldn't say there was one specific light bulb moment. It was more like a small flicker that then grew brighter and brighter. I used to entertain quite a bit and loved when I found a cheese or meat that paired so well with wine you could actually taste the difference in the wine. I thought how great it would be to have one little bite that combined the elements of cracker, cheese, meat, fruit, nuts and herbs all in one delicious flavor packed morsel.
Since this was my first venture into the entrepreneurial world I'd had a lot of fear, worry and doubt. My life coach, Kelli Bass, told me to just take small 'investigative' steps toward the idea. I did that for several months and it became clear I was in for the long haul. Then, when I invested significant money, I was committed to the project.
What made you decide to seek help in developing your food business?
Because I must have been out of my mind thinking I could develop a food product for national distribution having absolutely zero experience in that field. I didn't even know there were food business consultants until I started doing some internet sleuthing. I think I went about starting a food business a little bit differently than a lot of people. I didn't have a recipe, I didn't have the finished product, all I had was the concept of a baked good to pair with wine. And, I knew I wanted to extend the brand to other alcoholic beverages.
I knew that finding my target market (customer segments) and marketing in general were going to be key elements in the success of Wine Duets (which took a long time to even come up with that name!). I remember calling a local food business marketing company wanting to meet with them to discuss my product and develop a creative brief that would be the blueprint for my business. The woman told me to bring samples of the product to the meeting. I heard her laugh when I told her I didn't have the actual product yet. But even from the beginning, I knew how important marketing would be . By the way, that food marketing company has since gone out of business.
Before finding Dom, The Foodpreneur, I'd consulted with two other food business coaches. I didn't have great intuitive feelings about either of them. From my first conversation with Dom, I knew The Foodpreneur was exactly what I needed to make my business successful. He's very knowledgeable and thorough. And, he breaks up the immense and looming list of things to do into small manageable pieces.
We read a lot about entrepreneurs need to understand pivoting (explain) and we have made changes to your concept. Can you give readers a few examples of changes that were significant in moving you along the path?
One change in particular came very early on in the development and experimentation with baking. Originally, I'd thought of the product being like a bar cookie, with a crunchy bottom layer, a soft cheesey layer and a crunchy top of nuts and /or fruit. While that concept might be a snap for a large baking company to develop, for me it just wasn't practical. I wanted something that would be shelf stable, not frozen or need refrigeration.
The early baking batches were rolled out dough, hand-cut with toppings placed on top of the cookie. They looked great, but certainly wouldn't have been cost effective to mass produce - so I quickly moved on from that idea.
There still may be some pivots coming - for example, as I search for a co-packer, depending upon their equipment and specialty, my product may change. I've learned to be flexible and not get too attached to any one idea.
You Too Can Start a Successful Food Business with Practical Passion
So in the next Foodpreneur Clients Corner Article on Wine Duets , I had a conversation with Patty on how entrepreneurial pivoting, the Minimum Viable Product and "practical passion" has moved her out of the Kitchen and getting into the early phase of Getting on the Shelf and getting the Consumer to pair wine with yumminess!