There are hundreds of artisan producers and businesses based in Norfolk from farm shops, delis and butchers to coffee roasters and an array of food and drink producers. A thriving community all helping and supporting each other, it was really refreshing and it felt great being part of it.
By now I was making lots of phone calls, sending emails and visiting prospective customers to try and develop a customer base. I’d managed to get into a couple of deli’s and butchers locally, Farm to Fork and Fish and Hewitt and Grant in Horstead and Coltishall … both exceptional butchers with a great range of locally sourced produce. The quality and selection of their meat is amazing, and of course it goes great with hot sauce 😉 I can’t recommend both of these highly enough.
I’d also got myself setup on Twitter and Instagram, I hadn’t done any Social Media before so it was all a bit new to me and took me a while to get going. I kept seeing posts from Proudly Norfolk Food & Drink, a non-profit organisation that promote food and drink businesses across our county, they also offer free help and advice for small businesses which was great.
Being an IT person I still had a huge amount of questions and problems to solve and so I approached PN for some help. They put me in touch with Stephen Newham at Crush Foods, a local producer of cold pressed rapeseed oil and one of the PN directors. I visited Stephen at his site at Salle Farm near Reepham for a chat. We talked about the challenges of starting a food producing business, finding bottle suppliers, online marketing and a raft of other things … it was a great help. I also met a lady called Candi Robertson who’s business Candi’s Chutney’s was also located at Salle Farm … Candi was great, she has a wealth of experience and showed me how she produced her tasty chutneys at her Chutney Barn 🙂 again so helpful and I’m really grateful to both Stephen and Candi for sharing their experience with me.
I’d also met up with a local Norfolk Chef called Charlie Hodson, Charlie is a massive advocate of all things Norfolk and works tirelessly to promote local producers and small food businesses. I’d noticed he’d started following me on my Twitter account, so I sent him a message and asked if he’d like to try a bottle of Original … he wrote back saying ‘I already have and I love it’.
I was delighted and we arranged to meet up for a chat. He was so enthusiastic about the sauce, we talked about potential collaborations and he offered to promote the sauce wherever he could. He even started using Original in a few recipes in his restaurant, I couldn’t believe it, a respected Norfolk Chef was using RocketShip in his restaurant Blimey! 🙂
RocketShip Original even got a mention in Feast Norfolk Magazine in a dish Charlie created, I couldn’t believe it! Feast is a great publication, again promoting all things Food related across Norfolk … it contains a range of foodie articles, recipes and features on local producers and businesses. I was on a roll 🙂 suffice to say Charlie and I have become really good mates, and I want to say a big thanks to him for all the help he has given me …. I’m sure I’ll be talking more about Mr Hodson in some future Diaries ;-).
Things were getting interesting … I wasn’t selling a huge about of sauce but there were lots of things going on that were really encouraging, I have to say I was really getting excited and it was just about to get a whole lot better.
Loraine (the Missus) and I were shopping in Norwich one Saturday afternoon and we’d stopped for a coffee. Inevitably I brought up the subject of RocketShip lol … Imagine if I could get RocketShip into Jarrolds I said, they’ve an amazing deli and the foot fall is huge … Go and ask them Loraine said, you’ve got nothing to lose. I wasn’t sure they would be interested but thought I’d pop in and ask … I didn’t even have a bottle with me! I’d broken the golden rule Charlie had told me … always carry your product with you, wherever you go!! Anyway, I went down to the Jarrolds Deli and spoke to a guy behind the counter .. ‘Excuse me, if I was looking to get a product I make locally into the deli how would I go about it?’ he looked at me slightly puzzled and then pointed across the other side of the deli… ‘go and speak to that lady she’s the deli buyer’ Blimey I thought, I’m straight in here talking to the Jarrolds Deli buyer … no appointment or anything! I walked over and introduced myself, explained what I was doing and showed her a picture of a bottle of Original … she was lovely, really friendly and genuinely interested … Why don’t you pop a bottle into us and we’ll give it a try, by the way my names Judith. I couldn’t believe it… Jarrolds were sampling my product!!
I rang Judith the following week, I was nervous … what do I do if she says no! what if they don’t like it! … Hi Judith it’s Graham from RocketShip, I was just wondering what you thought of the sauce? … there was a slight pause … Oh yes Graham, hello …. the sauce is great, we’ll have 30 bottles please! I almost stumbled over my words …. Fantastic, thanks so much Judith … I was gob smacked, this was brilliant … to get my product into such a prestigious store like Jarrolds was incredible!
Jarrolds like Brick Pizza have become a great customer for me, we’ve an excellent relationship and RocketShip seems to work really well in the Deli … in fact Sean from Brick tells me that when his customers ask where they can buy RocketShip he sends them down to Jarrolds 🙂 Brilliant – Again a big thanks to Judith and the team for all of their support.
Next time … more new friends and the birth of Supernova 😉