Last week we were contacted by Judy Royal a reporter for the Wilmington Star News. She said she was writing an article about local people who had taken an idea and created a wholesale business. She asked if she could interview us and possibly have a photographer come and take photos of us making products. Naturally, we agreed to be a part of the process because publicity is good
When the photographer, Mike Spencer, came for our photo shoot; we had product ready to show off what we do. Of course, we also have dogs and they were being their usual helpful selves to Mike. We took the photos and thought we were through but Mike asked if he could shoot some product shots in our living room because the natural light was good.
As we watched Mike work and tried to keep the helpful pups at bay, the idea for a photo came to Mike and he asked if we would sit on our couch with the pups with our products in the foreground. Being people who can follow direction, we complied and soon Mike had what he thought was a winner. After seeing it in today’s paper, we completely agree.
Star News Photo
The article was also very nice:
So you’ve got an idea for a product you want to make and sell.
Many concepts remain just that because aspiring entrepreneurs don’t know how to get the ball rolling. But local people who have done it say it’s far from impossible if you do your homework, ask for help and follow your heart.
“If you are looking to start a business, choose something that you’re passionate about,” said Gayle Tabor, co-owner of Glynne’s Soaps. “Choose something that means something to you. You’re spending a lot of time at this to grow your business, so if it’s something you’re not passionate about you’re not going to want to do it. It is all-encompassing of your life.”
That was easy for Tabor and partner Jennifer Beddoe, who started an all-natural line of pet products in 2008 after the death of their dog was linked to use of a topical flea treatment. Customer demand prompted them to later add items for people.
But for Steve and Eleanor Johnston, owners of Aunt Ellie’s Gourmet Foods Inc., the passion wasn’t just about the product. They were looking for a lifestyle change when they began bottling and selling Eleanor’s salad dressing last month, even though she’d been making it for decades.
“We decided the time was right to become more self-sufficient,” said Steve Johnston, a real estate broker. “The economic uncertainty had a lot to do with it. The more self-sufficient you can become, I think the better off you will be.”
Both he and Tabor said once you get past this point, it’s time to start researching and enlisting as much free help as you can find.
The Johnstons found a valuable resource in the N.C. Department of Agriculture, while Tabor and Beddoe turned to Wilmington SCORE, a volunteer group of retired executives who counsel budding businesspeople.
Next comes product testing on friends, retailers and anyone else who is willing to sample what you’re offering, they said.
“Determine who your target market is and test your product to make sure the consumer will buy it, and the rest of it is just a matter of working your way through the process,” Steve Johnston said. “Know your customer.”
Unlike Glynne’s Soaps, Aunt Ellie’s and other food products have to go to the N.C. State Department of Food Science for lab testing and packaging requirements for a fee of $200, he said.
And then you have to determine where to set up your operation. Aunt Ellie’s opted to do the work at a Louisburg bottling company, while Tabor and Beddoe handle all production and packaging of Glynne’s Soaps from their Monkey Junction home.
From the standpoint of these businesses, it takes about seven to nine months from idea to finished product.
Then comes the ongoing job of pricing and selling your goods to retailers, online or both. Glynne’s Soaps does both, while Aunt Ellie’s sticks solely to wholesale.
“It was a real learning curve for us because neither one of us had ever done any retail,” Tabor said. “It was a lot of trial and error, to be perfectly honest.”