Yesterday was the VeganMania event in Chicago. It was a great cap to a very busy week. After months of delaying our company’s growth with my “I’m taking it slow” mantra, the time has arrived to expand. Gearing up for the VeganMania event has revealed that Ste Martaen can handle a dramatic increase in business. This week alone, we produced over 250 pounds of vegan cheese. And we did all this without breaking a sweat!!
The last month has been kind of crazy, full of hurdles. We successfully cleared all but one…getting our business cards shipped to us before the VeganMania festival. However, dealing with things has energized me out of my not-quite-ready-for-primetime stance. One of our major issues was a monkey wrench thrown at our packaging. We have been using an oval shaped container for our 1/2 lb. retail cheese. We loved these containers from first sight. For some reason I have an oval fetish when is comes to logos and containers, so naturally it seemed a perfect fit for our cheese line. The packaging stands out from other cheese producers and provides a sturdy casing for our product when transported or shipped. So a month ago, we go to restock on our packaging and our supplier is sold out with no plans of getting more!!! Now I was floored. We are nearly out of stock and the festival is coming soon. I start calling around. Come to find out, the packaging is manufactured in Holland and they stopped shipping to the US because of the cost. Great, little-ole start-up Ste Martaen gets bit by the Economic Recession beast.
Now what!? Well, we eventually are going to vacuum seal our products, so why not start now.
I have a few reasons why…but mainly, it is going to be too costly and timely to start that process now. We tried it, at you can see, but the look is sloppy using low grade equipment. So, I send an email to Holland asking how much it is going to cost us to get some packaging shipped. The response…$1,300!!! That is just for shipping a couple of cases. Well, I guess that’s not going to happen. But, they did send a follow up email, giving us a contact in Ohio who may be able to help us. The contact said that several people in the US have been requesting the packaging same as us, so he is putting a shipment together. This shipment wouldn’t arrive in the US for another month or two however.
Back to the drawing board again. Searching online; no similar containers. Calling custom manufacturers; they can do it if I order 10,000+ units…uhh, no. With a week and a half left before VeganMania, our last effort was to go back to our supply store and see what we can purchase to get us through the event. Guess what? Yup, they had 4 cases of our packaging mysteriously appear on their shelves. Of course, we bought all them. It must have been all the positive Vegan energy permeating Chicago that caused these to appear. Thanks, VeganManiacs!!
The event yesterday, I would label a great success. We produced twice as much than we sold and lost some money. However, we introduced our cheeses to a ton of new people and we made some great contacts. This last week we got our labels finalized, marketing material, business cards and updates to our website. Most importantly, we now feel confident we are ready to increase our production. From our first sale to now has been exciting and we look forward to the next stage of our growth.