Having worked in various software companies I am used to very fast development cycles. You build a small feature in two weeks, ship it to customers, collect feedback, iterate. This way you can move much faster and do not worry too much about breaking things. How can you achieve the same in a food industry?
First you define an MVP (minimal viable product), your product that you are happy to bring to market. In the case of Mellis Berry this is set honey with berries called Honey Delight. The first days I started I used a perforator drill to make the small quantities of creamed honey, raw berries, and small jars bought off eBay. At these quantities (5-15 jars) it is easy to be flexible and change things. Things get harded when you grow.
When your customers are not only your friends, you need to have a brand, logo, label. You cannot have a faceless jar anymore. However designing a proper brand style and jar label might take a long time, and in my case this time extended to over year. What I did was ask a good friend of mine to draw few illustrations that I printed as business cards on recycled paper and attached to the jars. There are few variations to go with different tastes.
Our labels for raspberry honey delights made by the talented @sara.pittaluga . It wasn't easy to find a good and responsible print house here but it was well worth it. Recycled paper and the quality is amazing! #mellisberry #honeydelight #honey #delight #dessert #raspberries #raspberry #bees #honeybee #illustration #funny #label #businesscard
I am now on my third iteration having 5 new tastes and about 350 jars. The biggest batch yet, and the most number of problems. I decided to swap the jars to a more suitables ones, however these are only available by pallets (~4500) and from abroad. Unfortunately I cannot buy the whole pallet due to the price and space requirements together with my designer we decided to fix this issue with the smart label.
I have the best honey I could ever find! Believe me, it’s that good! However it sets extremely slowly, and the hot weather in August and September doesn’t help. So I have to wait. Unfortunately I am leaving for 3 weeks to USA and I made a tough decision to leave the processing until I return from the trip.
Even though I planned way ahead the berry season, there turned out to be so many surprises that I failed to secure the berries I wanted. On few occasions the season ended while I was processing other berries. Or I simply found out that it’s impossible to buy some berries in Estonia in the quantities I need. For example you can get cloudberries only by tons and only frozen.
So here I am with delayed expectations, but still looking happy into the bright future ahead. I do not have any doubts that I will succeed, and that the future of Mellis Berry will be exciting.