Now that I’ve got my cookbook in the works (wrote a rough draft of my introduction today, yay!), I decided I had to face my biggest fear and dive into the world of flours!! More specifically, bringing my flour blends to market.
My end goal? I want everyone who loves great food – whether you have Celiac, a gluten intolerance, a gluten allergy, or not – to be able to buy RylieCakes Flour Blends for use in their home kitchens. Ideally, it would be fantastic to take this a step further and get the blends into restaurants as well but we will cross that bridge when we get there :)
So, what does it take to bring a food product to market?
I’m not even sure where to get started…and I am certain I will unknowingly leave something out!
First off, you need a product ✔
So what’s next? Watch out, my brain is churning like a tornado at this point!
Design packaging. Create nutrition labels. Make sure packaging and labels are done correctly and meet all FDA regulations. Find company to print packaging. Will the end products be sold in a bag or a box? How many units will make up a case? How big will the case box be? How will I fulfill the orders? How much will it cost to ship one unit? How much will it cost to ship one case? Where will I store my products? How will I transport the flours?
Where will I sell the flours? Where on earth do you register for a UPC code? How many UPC codes will I need? Do I hire a consultant? Do I go about the entire process solo? How can I establish my brand? What social media sites will I use? Will I sell flours on my website as well? How much does dry storage cost? Is it a flat monthly rate? Is it priced per cubic foot? Have I got enough capital? How long does it take to run a trial batch with a manufacturer? How much does that cost? How will I market my brand?
PHEW!! Hahahaha see, I told you, a million miles per minute tornado!!!!
Let's take a minute for a few deep breathes and fur baby pictures...
Getting back to it, the thoughts/questions never, ever end. There is SO much to think about!
And then, once all of this is figured out and whatever else I missed in my ramblings above, I need a co-man, co-packager OR a commercial kitchen to make and package my own products, which entails a whole new set of permits/registrations!
Having so much left to the unknown at this point, I found a few books to help guide me in the right direction.
The first one I read was “Separating the Con Man From the Co Man: How to Source a Contract Food Manufacturer” by William F.X. Madden, III and it was quite a lovely read. Will keeps this book to the point and is nothing but honest with the reader. He does not sugar coat the process one bit! If you are interested in the process or plan on brining a food product to market yourself, it is definitely worth the read.
Quite frankly though, his honesty scared the shit out of me!
But it also grounded me.
It was weird.
It scared me shitless because I have tons and tons of work that lies ahead of me, most of which I have zero or little knowledge about. To be specific, it isn’t the work that scares me; ask anyone who knows me well, I appreciate a good hard day’s work! It is the huge learning curve that can be a bit daunting.
On the other hand, Madden’s words also grounded me because they gave me a visual. After reading the book I was able to close my eyes and see the future. It gave me an opportunity to truly mediate not on just the thought of bringing my flour blends to market but on the process as a whole. It was like finding a map to a treasure chest. Before reading the book, I knew “X” or my end goal. Now, I have all the dotted lines that lead me there :)
Moving forward, I decided to start out by outlining my options for where to sell my flour blends and what that meant in regards to storage, packaging, and shipping.
Option A: Sell Flour Blends on my own website.
Option B: Sell Flour Blends on Amazon.
Option C: Do both - seems like the more obvious option...
I had chose to start here because a good girlfriend of mine works at Amazon and I knew she would be more than happy to help!
My girlfriend sent me various materials to help guide me through starting a business account with Amazon and what my options would be. I read every page, watched every video, and clicked on every link provided within the text. It took hours but was well worth the time.
If I sell through Amazon, I could use their FBA program (Fulfillment by Amazon). Through FBA, Amazon will actually store, pick, pack, ship, provide customer service, and deal with refunds. However, this all comes at a cost! As does everything…
If I sell them myself (or choose to do both), I need to set up my website to accept payment options. I would need to put together a shipping department – meaning not only rent out a warehouse space and purchase shipping materials but also set up a UPS/FedEx account, as well as find/hire labor to package and label all products to go out. I would also need a customer service “department” – I believe me, myself, and I will do in the beginning...
For all options (A, B, or C), I will need to figure out transportation of the finished products from the manufacturer to my facility or Amazon’s facilities’. Cleary, there is far more to each of these options and every step must be meticulously orchestrated, however, I am okay with simply skimming the surface today.
Besides, my brain is currently fried – information overload for sure!
So I put on my rain boots, threw on a winter jacket, grabbed an umbrella, and strolled down to the water with Barkley. Not sure I’ve mentioned it but I live in Seattle, which means our winters are filled with rain. And more rain. And then a little more rain.
I really don’t mind it all; I find it quite calming actually. Just listening to the rain on your roof or watching it fall on the water, creating hundreds of millions of ripples is very soothing for me. Plus, it sets the mood for a perfect day of baking and cooking inside a nice, warm, dry kitchen :)
There is beach access about a mile from our house with a fantastic view of Mt. Rainier on a sunny, clear day. Today though, we mostly saw fog, rain, and a few birds – not much to write home about – but Barkley got to swim after his tennis ball over and over again which is practically his whole reason for living.
Happy dog = happy life.
Nature’s fresh air, rain drops for days, the sound of the waves, rosy cheeks, a chilled core, and a soaking wet dog put everything right back into perspective.
Lick the Bowl - You Only Live Once,