The Delicious Food Co - Life In The Food Lane... The Drama Of It All
My blog is a humorous account of what it like to own & run a small food production business in Dublin, At the Delicious Food Co we produce superfresh salads & sandwiches to shops & offices large & small in Dublin. In a world of mass production we are true artisan producers. Hop into my van, hitch a ride & lets check out life in the food lane.
"I was wondering if after all these years you'd like to meet"
I love these lyrics by Adele, because most of us have someone or some people in our past with whom these sentiments resonate, people we have loved & lost, through death, timing, stupid misunderstandings, geography or a million other reasons.
Realistically it's the person still living who we've lost touch with that we most want call like Adele does in her song, someone special from the past.But fear is the barrier & why shouldn't it be. There is always a reason why, rightly or wrongly people who meant so much to us in the past are no longer part of who we are now.
In 2013 I used to write a weekly blog about my life as a small food producer in Dublin. I wrote fearlessly & honestly, and I connected with a lot of people. At the height of our recession, I recounted what it was like to be a small business owner. The highs of new clients, empty shelves & growing sales. But I also told my story of how little I slept with worry, how cash flows issues affected me, how fearful I was, how vulnerable I was.
At a dinner party, a friends husband suggested that I revealed too much, (I didn't know he read the blog) another loose tongue suggested the same. I never revealed anything in those blogs that I wouldn't have told you if we met for coffee, but those comments along with other things, took the wind out of my sail.
Gradually I stopped blogging thinking who would want to know my story,ignoring the numbers who read it including the elderly childhood neighbor I met at a funeral in Monaghan who delighted in telling me she was loving my sandwich stories from Dublin, or the wonderful owner of a deli in Ballsbridge, who I met & told me she too loved my blog & was worried about me when I stopped writing.
These days it now seems that everything has to have a filter...shiny stories, with shiny filtered photos, fab abs & gluten free/vegan/protein overloads/ no sadness, reality on social media well that could damage the shiny brand.
I want to tell you about the world as I see it & hopefully like last time round you will hop into my van beside me as I wind my way around Dublin delivering The Delicious Food Co salads & sandwiches, and you too might see the world as I do.
So having spent the past few months looking for a new angle on the blog....I'm going to go back to what I do best & that is tell my own foodie, business story.. warts & all
Last year we didn't get a holiday. The kids got away to various far flung locations but Mr Delicious & myself didn't manage it. All that work without the reward of a week in the sun can pull you down, especially as week after week you wave friends adieu as they depart on theirs, looking bronzed, relaxed & ready for another year when they return.
In April I had lunch with my brother and he told me he had booked his summer holiday, two weeks in a camping site in Italy, flights to Bologna train to campsite....happy days.
When I got home I checked out the cost of flights,they reasonable enough I thought. That's my form Think : Action: Stop:...the follow through is the bit where I fall down. However the next day I checked the flights again & already they had gone up by a whopping 300euro for five of us, so without further adieu I whipped out the credit card & booked leaving 25th June
Campsite booked, holiday sorted !
Last week I got an email from the campsite welcoming us, looking forward to seeing us etc. The next day I got an email confirming cancellation of the booking...don't ask. We did manage to get another booking in another campsite as it seems we had reserved about 6 via booking.com/ direct/trivago etc...
On Wednesday I was checking out car hire from airport, but it closes at 12 midnight & our flights arrives at 11.30, trains stop at 10pm. A taxi would cost 250 (& you really would have to tip the driver having spent so much time together), so we've booked a hotel in Bologna, train to Pescheira is booked for Sunday, after the match.
So with the lads in the kitchen briefed to within an inch of their lives....we are heading off in a few hours to the airport, for our first holiday in a few years.
Glorious sunshine deliciously piercing our mood making our skin tingle with a positive virus: shaking the negativity of endless rain & years of gloom. Dublin city was alive with sunshine & culture:Tall ships in the Liffey; acre after acre of gardens & food galore in Bloom ,a music festival in majestic Kilmainham, thronged by teens immune to the beauty of their surrounding, but mesmerized by the brilliance of Groove Armada in the Dublin night.
We are alive, we are back and we have survived the forty days of rain, inflicted by our septic banks...& by god didn't we all we earn that sunshine.
Last week we reached our Linked Finance target ten days ahead of schedule and for that myself & Mr Delicious want to thank everybody at Linked Finance especially Conor Mc Aleese and every single person who backed us. We thank you, not just for the commitment to us but those of you who subscribe to the ethos of principled people to people crowd funding.
We attended our first big trade show last week at the invitation of BWG, it was exciting & daunting in equal measures...."I have three shops in Tralee you'd be perfect for us"..what's the margin,/central billing/national distribution/ sale or return...".it's all still in my head, in a nutri bullet, waiting me to push the "blend" button, as I wonder how to process the enormous potential and ponder if this is the direction I want to go in.
The retail premises I told you about fell through, yet immediately a much brighter prospect appeared, is that Karma, or me just being sunshine drunk, well I'll know tomorrow & I will keep you posted.
Last but not least is the news that our first fully branded fridge is now open for business in Spar Dame St, where you will find a full range of our delicious products In a world where healthy eating has become a religion, it's high priests/rock Gods suggesting their way of goji berries & porridge is the only key to a happy life , our message is simple;
keep food simple, avoid processed prepared meals, make a dining table from anything, a door, a plank of wood...treasure it, share your simple food with family & friends.
beacuse around that table however coarse it may, that's where memories are made.
And most important next time it rains get out & dance in it !
Disclaimer Much as myself & Mr Delicious would like you to think this is a picture of us...only in our dreams ...
On Sunday I wrote about our adventures in the scary world that is crowd funding, an adventure we are currently embarking on with Linked Finance. Crowd funding for your business is a very personal thing. For most of us who own a small business, they can be as much part of us as our family, it's fair to say that they often get more attention than our children as we negotiate the highs & lows of the associated relationship, suppliers, staff, cash flow.
Consider you have a troublesome child, no matter how hard he/she pushes you, taunts you, causes you sleepless nights you will love that child regardless. You will make endless sacrifices for it, you will protect it no matter what, you will be loyal and unforgiving for criticisms you feel are unjust.
And just when you think you can take no more, they will smile at you or hug you, give you something back, that justifies the love, makes everything worthwhile.
Small businesses are just like that, so undeniably personal & connected, we feel their pain as much as if they are a living part of us. That's why crowd funding ain't easy. On Sunday I compared it to going on Tinder, putting yourself out there, seeing who is attracted enough to make a move.
Yesterday morning we were funded to the tune of 20%, but by yesterday evening we had hit an astonishing 75%....that's a lot of affection coming in the direction of my troublesome child and I am proud as punch that so many can see the potential of this, my unorthodox fifth child.
Tonight we are 84% funded, just 16% more to go, So a massive thank you to all of you who believe in my child as much as I do and have lent to us and for those of you sitting on the fence
For Mr Delicious, I never been on Tinder (I swear !)
For my four amazing children,
you have never been troublesome and thank you for sharing me with the fifth child !
Last week I wrote my first blog of the year, I didn't promote it on social media the way I used to, I had to get writing again, make sure I'm comfortable with what I'm saying. Ironically in the same week I had a number of people question why I stopped writing, they had been enjoying my story, so to quote the amazing Dolly....
"Here I go again"...
I told you about the many things that were happening for us at The Delicious Food Co, new packaging, new shop, new crowd funding with Linked Finance....it's a busy scary time,
We first put our toe in the water of Crowd Funding a few years ago via the wonderful team at Linked Finance. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept: lenders commit to lend money to small businesses at a rate decided by them in an auction type process. It's a simple idea, the banks will give you 1% on your savings, but take a risk, back a small business (vetted by Linked Finance) and you might get up to 15% on your investment
Everybody is different, but if I had money to invest in a small business I would certainly expect no greater rate of return than the banks. It's a moral/ ethical thing for me. So we have opted for a three year fixed rate of 8.8%, so reaching our target may be more difficult when we exclude those offering above this rate, but we will feel better about our new business partners.
Crowd funding is a difficult personal exercise, you need to write a profile of your business, your accounts are published & available to those registered with the site....you feel very exposed & vulnerable.
I suspect it's a lot like being on Tinder...putting yourself out there & seeing who's attracted enough to make a move.
So far we have over 26 wonderful people who have backed us to the tune of almost 20% in 3 days and we are not just grateful but touched.....For you & all of you coming down the track, I want you to know that we have been invited by BWG to exhibit at their annual Suppliers Conference in Citywest on Wednesday, in the category of Emerging Suppliers. and I want you to know that when I am there promoting The Delicious Food Co, I will be doing it not just for Mr Delicious,our team in the kitchen & me, but I'll be doing it for you, our current lenders and our future lenders, making you proud,
ensuring your return on your investment, hoping you spread the word...of this innovative world of crowd funding..
If you have a minute check out the blog I wrote when we last crowd funded with Linked Finance in 2014...I think you'll enjoy it.
I've opened a bottle of wine, which I am delightfully sipping, whilst Mr Delicious sleeps deeply on the sofa, a glass of white wine poised precariously in his hand. I daren't move it, as he might wake up & if ever a man needs some sleep it's him.
It's been early starts all week for us, so when I woke up this morning and he had already left I thought I must have overslept ....but it wasn't even 5.30am when I stumbled into my home office blindly searching for my last two contact lens.
The dog benefited from an extra long walk & I was at my stainless steel work table by 6.15am.
The last few months have been mental, so much going on in some directions, so little in others....my daydreambeliever in missing in action (but I'm sure I'll find him, I always do). Business continues to grow with all the excitement & pain that comes with it....bigger supplier / wage bills, big highs when the cheques come in & enormous lows whey fail to arrive within an expected time frame.
One minute I'm lovin' it, and the next minute I'm sellin' it !
If you are an small business owner, I know you'll share the agonies & ecstasies of this roller coaster ride and if you are in a safe pensionable job, well I loathe you & envy you in equal proportions.
Next week I am going to do something I have done before & that is to expose myself to the general public and do some crowd funding...I can't manage this growth without help so I'm going back to a space I know & lets see what happens...
The new packaging will be ready next week, so that feels like the end of something & the beginning of something new.
We have first option on a site for our first retail space , which we also hope to agree on next week..how exciting is that !
Tonight we got final confirmation that whilst the fridge in our van is super COOL..the engine of the van is DEAD...so we also need to buy a new van, asap.
And all of that has to happen between the actual work of producing our delicious products.
Yesterday morning myself & Mr Delicious decided that the best way to get a better work life balance over the summer was to start training, so as he drove the hired fridge van around the city, on our deliveries, I signed us both up for a charity cycle to our favourite festival of the year....
Electric Picnic 2016, we're coming to get ya...and we'll be on our bikes
What a gift just to be here, to be alive, to celebrate this momentous time of year, a time that grows bigger & bigger with every year that passes; a time of year that captures our lives in a way that no carefully poised selfie can possibly do.
Every year the first Christmas card that arrives through our letter box comes from Mr Delicious' oldest friend Kevin, who emigrated to New Zealand many years ago. That card has been the reminder of a relationship that endures despite the miles & the time lapses.Each year it arrives with his address on the back of the envelope and year after year Mr Delicious puts it somewhere safe, paying homage to a friendship that is so far away & yet so near. This year there will be no card from Kevin, as he died tragically & so suddenly in June this year whilst out running in NZ just weeks before he was due to come home to us in Ireland with his wife Susie, where we were all going to party like the old days.
On Christmas eve at our traditional gathering, our core gang have been all be bereaved in the most tragic way; Barbara has lost an ex partner & Emer the same friend, to sudden death: Crona's beloved nephew died just 11 weeks after this magnificent & beautiful man & father (42) was diagnosed with a brain tumor.Our son Charlie was on his J1 in San Francisco, and returned home to attend the funeral of his pal Nick, killed in Berkeley, before returning back to complete what should have been a trip of a lifetime. Marie's beautiful dad Eddie, a man who at his funeral was (correctly) described as the definition of a gentleman, also passed away this year, whilst her beautiful son Keelan, is always fore front of our mind every year, at this very special gathering.
I am desperately sad & I am intensely grateful.
Desperately sad for the losses we & so many more have suffered. But I am also grateful that today, so close to Christmas, Mr Delicious, our children, my mom & all our siblings & their children are here.
My blog is supposed to be a business blog: my life as an SME owner, but tonight as I reflect on life, there just doesn't seem to be a fitting place for such commentary.
Where ever you are I hope you are in a place to share a peaceful happy Christmas.
"and there was homecoming...
after 40 years in the states,
all dressed in dollar green, he comes home to his own faithful Kathleen..