I started doing demo’s in stores recently. The picture above is from a demo at Glen’s Garden Market in Washington DC. If you’ve ever seen the people standing behind little tables in the grocery store giving out samples, well that’s me. Of course, I do more than just give out samples; I spend most of my time talking to customers about not only our food, but also the connection between diet and health, nutrition and disease.
More often than not, the person in front of me has some sort of illness, or a friend or family member with a severe allergy or digestive/autoimmune related issue. In no time, we are discussing different ingredients and their inflammatory nature etc. Some times, I spend as long as 30 minutes talking with any given customer. We exchange recipes, hugs, phone numbers and advice.
The Best Part of My Job as a Startup
I have to say, this is the best part of the job so far. I love watching people respond to my chicken nuggets, but more importantly, I love talking to people as passionate as I am about food, nutrition, disease and diet. For those of you who don’t know, MOM’s Organic Market has stores in four states and DC and its mission is to “protect and restore the environment”. Supporting organic is their highest priority. Our products are not organic quite yet, but we are clearly in the pocket of healthy food, being grain, gluten, sugar and preservative free, with no artificial ingredients.
Spending Too Much Time with People Who Suck
It’s refreshing to be around people who care about their bodies, the food they put in them and the environment. Because I have to be honest, lately I have been spending way too much time with people who down right “suck” (excuse my french). I guess its no different than any other industry – having to work with people who only care about money and power, whose ego’s are intimately tied into their insecurities, who can’t see past their own job titles. But let’s not focus there.
Building a business from the ground up is hard; especially one in the food industry. Every aching muscle in my body, every new gray hair and new stress line on my face is testament to this fact. I am stressed out every day – financially and otherwise.
With that said, we have made huge progress. We are selling our chicken nuggets in almost 25 stores and even better, customers seem to really be enjoying them. We are rolling out two additional sku’s, Honey BBQ and Buffalo flavor – again, all grain, gluten, sugar and preservative free. I am really excited about these two new flavors.
So, Just What Does a Chicken Nugget Machine Do Anyway?
We also bought a chicken nugget machine, which is super cool. I bought it from China and it forms and cuts 2000 chicken nuggets in an hour. This rocks our world and allows our production process to scale to the levels we require. We’re constantly tweaking our process to finding faster, more efficient ways to produce. Last week, I bought a conveyor belt so that when the nuggets roll off the machine, they roll onto the conveyor belt onto pieces of paper which we then pick up and put into the freezer to harden (before we batter and fry).
I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off. We’re in production each week for 3-4 days and when we are, I am in the kitchen working with the chef actually making the nuggets. When we’re not in production, I am in stores doing demo’s and trying to close deals with other stores to pick up our products. One of my biggest goals is to provide our allergen free food to schools and hospitals so that children/young adults who have dietary restrictions have good, healthy options to eat. All I know is this…every day last year, I packed a lunch for Caleb for school (with all of the foods that he could eat on his diet) and every day that lunch came home because he was too embarrassed to eat it.
This is unacceptable.
If you know someone who can help me get our food into the school system, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The final piece of the puzzle is outreach, education and providing support to parents and children struggling with IBD and autoimmune illnesses, via blogs and social media content. This is the work I do at night, after everyone else is asleep.
Why We’re Closing Our Online Store
We have been selling via our online store for some time now, but I have had to make a strategic decision to close down the store for now, so that I can focus on the retail market. I know this is probably very upsetting to many parents (especially on the SCD) who buy our food, so for that I am sorry. My goal is to come back to online down the road once we are further along and I can outsource fulfillment. Amazon here we come!
In the mean time, we are having a CLOSE OUT SALE and offering a deep discount of 25% off to sell all inventory. Use the coupon code Closeout. The sale ends August 29th.
It’s A LOT and sometimes and its too much and overwhelming. I am taking breaks, but probably not enough. I am meditating and doing yoga, but I have to get back to biking to reduce some of this stress.
If you live in the DC/MD/VA area and would like to check out our products, please take a look at the stores showcased above – OR go buy the last couple of boxes of grain, gluten free chicken nuggets at our online store. The BBQ and Buffalo nuggets are coming soon. We are starting production on them tomorrow.