One of our beloved retailers when we first opened was Old Inc. From home decor and customer furniture to vintage rentals Old inc. had a little something for everyone. By far the most notable pieces were custom built signature furnishings that were individually designed for their customer. Using reclaimed wood, metal and sustainable materials these items often became the show piece of many local homes, offices and restaurants.
That custom work has been a mainstay for Josh and Kristen Allen, Old Inc’s founders. Some of their most recent work can be seen in the outfittings at the recently opened Hunger Street Taco’s. While the custom work is arguably what Old Inc. is most known for, there has been a burning passion in Josh’s soul to take the brand in a new an exciting direction.
After leaving the market to expand their operation in a showroom/warehouse north of town, Josh met Paulina Wisniewski who would in many ways serve as a co-conspirator for the transition to Old’s new endeavor.
A Montreal native Paulina had earned her stripes working in design. Everything from children’s and men’s fashion to a stint in jewelry design for local non-profit. It was on a side gig as Old Inc’s administrative assistant where she began drawing Josh toward a new an exciting change for the Old Inc. brand.
Enter Beaver and Bison – The fusion of Josh and Paulina’s vision for a brand new aesthetic with clean lines and a strong utilitarian element to the design. The offering have a sense of dependability and simplicity. There is a feeling like the corner mirror and this seasons’s sofa for instance will grace the home of a customers for a lifetime if not reach heirloom status.
The name too is a fusion of sorts. With the Bison, America’s new national mammal, coming out of extinction and steadfastly anchoring the brands and the Beaver with its industriousness and wood worker skills is a nice nod to Paulina’s Canadian roots .
You can see the evolution of their brand in Beaver and Bison’s first capsule. This Winter / Spring collection hosts 12 items and furnishings made in house and 12 from makers and designers that the B&B team curate from the best-of-the-best around the world. Each year will showcase 2 capsules with the look and feel shifting to lead local and international trends as well as give a nod to the season of the year in which the capsule debuts.
What I love most about Old Inc’s story is this ongoing evolution. From operating their 200 Sft. shop in the market to now expanding into an internationally aware, yet locally based business, Old Inc. has adapted to both external trends and paid credence to internal yearnings.
One of the great assets of East End is its ability to provide a venue for small-scale entrepreneurs to get market validation for a concept without having to commit to a long term lease or exorbitant rent. The ability to pivot is part-and-parcel of the way the market was designed. By listening to their customers and to their heats the Allens have matured their business and brand in a way that feels really authentic and sustainable.
We wish them and Paulina the best of fortunes with the launch of Beaver and Bison and are totally stoked with their first capsule. With more high design and quality furnishings / decor in the pipeline we’re confident the brand will flourish.
If you’ve attended a food truck rally, farmers market or local food hall recently you’ll have noticed that small-scale food businesses are firing on all cylinders these days. Customers are hungry for thought provoking and novel food concepts and savvy foodpreneurs are capitalizing on this trend.
Maybe you’ve been doing some dream hatching of you own, imagining what it would be like to bring your own unique culinary concept to market and share your food passion with the world.
There has never been a better time to start a food business than RIGHT NOW.
If you’ve ever thought that “Hey I could do this….and probably better” but you haven’t tied on the apron and gotten started, what’s holding you back?
Let me guess?
You know you can make a damn tasty product, but you doubt your ability to put all the pieces of the business side together.
You love the idea of creating a truly authentic and unique culinary concept, but you hate the idea of having to be “salesy”.
You’ve got a foolproof concept in mind . . . however, you’re not sure how to market your product and get it in front of your customers or onto store shelves.
Start-up food businesses are usually begun as a side-hustle, and since the hours outside the 9-to-5 are so limited there is not a SECOND to waste on activities that aren’t directly linked to profit. But where to start? The list of To Do’s seems endlessly long and many would be foodpreneurs get stuck in analysis paralysis.
So….to help demystify the process of starting your food business I’m going to debunk a couple myths about the process and give you a roadmap toward a successful launch of you concept.
We’ve all seen others do it successfully and with the right training I’m here to tell you that you can too.
Myth #1: I need to make my product in a commercial kitchen or commissary kitchen.
While producing you food product through a commercial kitchen will probably become a necessity as your grow your business, thankfully for certain concepts it’s not absolutely mandatory at the get-go.
In recent years many states have approved Cottage Food policies that enable applicable food start-ups to start producing their food products at home without needing to be in a licensed kitchen.
These policies let foodreneurs get up and selling without many of the required permits, certifications and inspections associated with more established food businesses.
Cottage laws vary from state to state, but there are some common restrictions worth mentioning. First of all, approved food under the regulation are usually non-hazardous foods like baked goods, jams/jellies, granola, dry pasta, honey, etc. Here is a list of some of the typical approved and prohibited cottage foods.
David Crabill at Forrager.com has provided some dynamite resources for Cottage Food operations and if you think starting a home-based cottage food business is the path for you, check out his website.
Myth #2: I don’t need to work in a commercial kitchen or commissary kitchen.
This one goes hand in hand with Myth #1 and it’s because cottage food regulations have some significant drawbacks. Beyond restricting food type, cottage foods are generally approved for sale direct to consumer only and can’t be sold to grocery stores, restaurants or online. Not being able to get your product on store shelves is reason enough for some folks to bypass operating under the cottage food regulations and sign up with a commercial kitchen instead.
Plus look back at Myth #1, the list of approved foods allowed under the cottage food policies is pretty narrow and I bet your local farmers markets are full of foodprenuers already making and selling these food types. The little bit of extra effort to get licensed to use a commercial kitchen can pay dividends in freeing you up to pursue your culinary dreams without restriction.
I haven’t even mentioned the gross sales cap on Cottage Food businesses. If you start your business from home and are met with success and growth right off the bat you could sail right past your state’s sales cap. Florida, for instance, has a gross sales cap of $15,000. Even as a hobbiest it’s easy to hit this cap since it’s based on gross sales, not net sales or profit. There are no caps for businesses working from commercial kitchens and for some food concepts it might just be the best place to start.
Myth #3: You’re happiest when you are cooking and starting a food business would be the perfect way to profit from your passion.
I so wish this wasn’t a myth, but far too often the things that bring us joy quickly turned sour when they become the means to a financial end.
Jessica, our chef-in-residence at East End, calls this the Food Network myth. Each day of your food business is like an episode of a highbrow cooking show. Everything neatly in its place, the fridge and cabinets perfectly stocked and all your ingredients pre-measured…..oh and all the dishes cleaned through the magic of television.
The reality is that while most people enjoy making a Thanksgiving meal for their whole family to enjoy the thought of having to do it EVERY DAY is a scene from Groundhog day. As a food start-up if you don’t feel this monotony at some point in your early days you will be one of the exceptional few.
Honestly, most of your time getting your culinary concept off the cutting boards will be spent sourcing ingredients, packaging, labeling, accounting, negotiating, cleaning….and more cleaning while the part you love, the making, gets relegated to a tiny 10% of your work week.
Believe me friends, I take no pleasure in debunking this myth, but it is vital that you go into starting a food business with a bit of grit and fortitude.
Now….it’s not all doom and gloom. Far from it! Keep in mind, launching your culinary concept means you are piloting your own ship. Finding success under you own efforts is far more satisfying than doing so under someone else’s employ and direction.
A food venture can be, and should be, deeply fulfilling and profitable, even fun, but it takes forethought and business acumen to run a successful food start-up. Knowing this and setting healthy expectations is vital. Taking time to do some foundational planning will put you miles ahead of others who start their concepts on a whim.
Remember we’re here to help and in the 4 Rookie Mistakes PDF we talk specifically about when to, and how to, hire your first employee which will keep you focused on your strengths and let’s someone else pick up the rest.
Myth #4: I’ll find a couple farmers markets to sell at and be off to the races
Let me start by saying the resurgence of farmers markets in the last decade is proof-positive that consumers want local, fresh and artisan products over store bought commodities. This bodes well for aspiring foodprenuers for sure!
Chances are good that attending your local farmers market is part of your inspiration to stake your claim in the food industry.
The rub is that the explosive growth of farmers markets has been met with a panoply of new market ready food businesses and you’ll find most established markets at, or close to capacity.
Point being, getting the green light to set up at your local farmers market might be more challenging than you anticipate. If there is an established vendor in your food category the chances of the market manager giving you a shot are next to nil.
There is hope however and I’ve seen many upstart foodpreneurs break into markets I thought were closed up tighter than Fort Knox. Here is how they did it.
1. Try to put a new spin on an existing category: Can you be “local”, “organic”, “hand-made”, “gluten-free”, etc. where the established brand is not. Sometimes the market manager just needs a valid argument for letting you in so as to not piss off their established vendor. Make it easy for them. Figure out just how different your concept really is from what they already have and pitch them.
2. Start by setting up at any place that will let you. Outside a popular coffee shop that doesn’t sell your type of product, at your local church or club, one off festivals and civic events. These pop-ups will help you hone your craft and build your audience. It also gives you time to get your visual merchandizing and branding down.
3. Be willing to drive out of the city and serve some of the outer lying or brand new markets that are eager to have new merchants join their ranks. In many cases you’ll be doing them a favor and in turn they’ll be willing to put in a good word testimonial for your when you try to break into a more established market in the city core.
Think about getting into your first major farmers market like trying to get a date with someone you really admire. You’ve heard the term that in dating and marriage someone is usually a reacher and someone a settler. We can admit that as a start-up you are the reacher. So…the goal with your pop-ups is to build some stories of success, a track record of social media posts full of the smiling faces of happy customers and some testimonials from the business owners who testify that your presence at their shop or market brought in more business.
Your goal in the first few months should be to close the “reacher/settler” gap as much as possible. As a market manager my ideal tenant has an existing customer base, even if it’s just a few hundred fans on social media and on their e-mail list. This gives me confidence that they will at least be bringing something to the picnic and not just sucking at the umbilical chord of our established customer base.
Last thing to mention about getting a farmers markets: Even if you are a cottage food business many markets will require that you be licensed and a carry insurance regardless of your business status. I break this down in the bonus materials so check that out if you want to keep the research road trip rolling.
The goal of this and other posts is to help you sidestep the countless pitfalls that make starting a food business a disaster and instead lead you toward foodpreneur success.
I’ve been working in this industry for more than a decade and I’ve seen MANY mistakes along the way. The bonus list of rookie mistakes I’ve created will serve like a food business success GPS system helping you avoid the pitfalls many others have fallen. Click here to get it now!
Ramen! Ramen! Everywhere ramen! (And tacos.) But back to ramen – the city’s love affair with these noodly bowls has only deepened, and a break-up isn’t very likely. In my estimation, the trend hasn’t even peaked, and that’s hardly a surprise. Ramen is cheap, for one thing, and it’s wholly comforting. Plus it elicits a mild snobbery – “ramen connoisseurship,” as Jonathan Gold calls it – particularly among millennials, many of whom gladly queue up for hours for a chance to dribble tonkotsu down their bearded yaps……
Orlando’s latest claim to foodie fame comes courtesy of an artisan cookie shop that has enjoyed a cult following for nearly seven years.Tourism website TravelPulse posted a list of the country’s must-have delicacies titled “Dishes You Have To Shove In Your Gaping Maw Before You Die.” The title of Earth’s Best Cookies went to Orlando-based Gideon’s Bakehouse, known for its selection of decadent desserts that sell out almost as soon as they are stocked…..
Freehand Goods, is the latest pop-up in East End Market. Freehand Goods is a Florida-centric retail outfit run by Jacob Zepf, the man behind Outfitters Co in Winter Park, which we’ve written about previously, HERE. You may recognize their name from our Orlando Bungalower Instagram account, as we’ve posted a few photos of their mobile trailer shop that they park around town……
Chef Kevin Fonzo and Chef Jamie McFadden with top Orlando chefs and food & beverage professionals hosted an amazing event called Food and Wine Unite to recognize the staff and volunteers of the LGBT Center of Central Florida for their continued dedication after the Pulse Nightclub tragedy. Please enjoy the video below of this wonderful event by Dan Beckmann.