My day started at 4 am. I had to get ready for the Underground Farmers & Craft Market at Ms Marmite Lover’s home. To answer the many questions that probably popped into your head from my last two sentences, here’s a quick explanation. Ms Marmite Lover runs the Underground restaurant network, a loosely organised group of food lovers who either host supper clubs (open your home to strangers, cook and charge them to eat the lovely food) or participate in them or just support the whole enterprise. She took this concept one step further and opened her home to the general public and invited stall holders to come and take part.
I decided to participate and it was my first foray into marketing my baby business. Hence my 4 am wake up to prepare what I was selling that day, gomoku sushi, or sushi rice mixed with veggies. It was a day unlike any other I had ever experienced. Now I have had experience in organising fairs and even selling at them, but never my own things. There were lots of lessons learned on the day.
The biggest lesson I learned was to step outside my head and look at my business. I took part in this market to promote my cooking classes and my wonderful friend C did a fantastic job branding me and doing up labels, but I failed to provide a single large sign that advertised what I do. It was so obvious to me and I thought, if you look at the labels, it too is obvious, but what I failed to take into account, is that I am not doing a presentation, but selling in a room with 7 other stall holders with upwards of 200 people parading past my table. So next time, a big sign.
I made such an elementary mistake that I still can’t believe it. I failed to take people’s contact details. I tell everyone who is just starting out that you have to be proactive. Just don’t hand out information and wait for people to contact you, take their details and remind them of who you are. I didn’t take my own advice, so here I am, waiting for people who took my details to contact me. Hmmm, fix that too next time.
Lesson number 2, do not use a crowded market to introduce an unfamiliar product. No one was looking at my sushi, and I finally realized that no one knew what it was. At which point I opened it up and tried to give away some tastes, but it is after all, rice in a box. It was definitely tricky. Also, people were mostly grazing and snacking as they walked, so rolled sushi would have been infinitely more identifiable as well as easy to eat. My daughter’s friends had a feast with the leftovers.
I also did a cookery demo which I think went pretty well. I certainly had a big group of people crowding in to watch. It is very different using someone else’s kitchen and even though I brought all my own things, the set up took time and I will try and keep it more simple next time. I really have new respect for those people who can go into other people’s homes and demonstrate cooking. It’s a whole other level of complicated.
But my entire family came along for the day to support me and hang out and it was a great day. I met lots of really nice people, ate entirely too much amazing food and brought home enough other people’s food that we all had a lovely supper.
I have had a couple of people contact me about classes already so it was a great, it was a wonderful atmosphere in which to try out my little business and the response I got was really nice.
I hope Ms Marmite Lover will have me back for the next one. I’m already thinking of what I can make.