Packs a Zing!
With an Autumn chill in the air, now’s the time to share Áine’s wonderful warming ‘ginger inspired’ story; how she manages a busy production schedule and her best business tips for food ventures…
My food business is all based on using powerful Peruvian ginger. My journey started back in 2017, I first made my crystallised ginger while living in Canada. Now at that stage, I was just creating it out of curiosity which I tend to do a lot. When making my own, I didn’t realise how powerful the ginger flavour was going to be; a few people quickly got addicted to its zingy punch! From then on, I made it as gifts and added it to my ‘nut and fruit trail mixes’ when out hiking the Canadian Rockies. Then I found Peruvian ginger in a food market in Calgary and progressed to learn more about it.
I didn’t realise how powerful the ginger flavour was going to be; a few people quickly got addicted to its zingy punch!
Going the Course
Life changed and I moved back to Ireland, but it wasn’t until 2020 that I looked into the possibility of making a business out of my product. I did a LEO event for ‘Foodpreneurs’ in March that year, then COVID hit and slowed down progress. I also did a course in ‘Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship’ at U.C.D . As I’d no background in the food sector or running a business in this area either, I checked if any part-time food courses could help me further with the development stages of my idea. I found the ‘Diploma in Speciality Food Production’ at U.C.C, but due to the pandemic this was all online, so unfortunately field trips to other food businesses couldn’t go ahead. However, this course aided my development and I met some amazing people with different ideas.
What’s your favourite thing about running your own business?
I’ve always enjoyed a working environment where every day is different and not monotonous. So having something different to focus on each day is very rewarding for me. Attending a variety of events gives a great boost and it’s a good way to inform customers about the quality of Peruvian ginger.
And what do you find is the most frustrating?
When I started, I always worried about driving my product forward and gaining interest of potential customers. Overtime though I kept learning and I’ve found ways to inform my customers, so it’s becoming easier.
I’ve a creative background and one also working in ‘the outdoors’, so never an interest in anything financial. I was good with money in the past but the whole financial aspects of a business can be overwhelming. I have a simple accounting process that I try to keep on top of on a monthly basis.
Describe an average workday.
I get up early, 7am or even earlier if lots of prep is to be done over a few production days or if I need a moment to think of the day ahead, without my phone. I check what’s priority and clear anything from the previous day that needs to be. Then, I check stock levels of ginger root and do checks that quality standard is still good.
I look at my social media schedule for the day. I’ve alerts set with Google– which are an assortment of *keywords for my business that I get new posts or news items on, for example, *Peruvian ginger, *ginger syrup, and *crystallised ginger. It’s very handy for social media posts etc!
I pick a list of stockists and make calls to check their stock levels, record any changes that might be happening with them and how customers are responding to my products. Also, I’ll look at my website to see if any amendments are to be made and of ways to increase sales to my site. When I’m doing ‘production’ I can have very long days particularly with the syrups.
What keeps you going or inspires you?
My inspiration is hearing from customers who find out about the benefits of ginger and use it in various ways. Some customers get real benefits and comfort from my products so being able to give that to them keeps me going. I love coming up with new product ideas; customers can utilise every day with ease.
Some customers get real benefits and comfort from my products so being able to give that to them keeps me going.
Do you have any ‘time saving’ tips for business owners?
Creating a list of your ‘urgent-to-do’s’ and then an ‘everyday-to-do’s’ list is good. Create a table on a whiteboard with calendar days and highlight when you do each item, some might just occur once-a-week. This can be for hygiene checks or calls to stockists. Visualising it is very handy and helps if you find it overwhelming at any stage.
I recommend taking a look at the Local Enterprise Office events as some talks could potentially help you save time in a certain area that you’re lacking. Sit down a month in advance, and plan out for next month which events you should book. Consider- what social media events you can utilise for your business?
Business Supports & Expansion
Initially, did you manage to get any support or funding for your business?
Yes, I was successful in getting a place on Enterprise Ireland’s ‘New Frontier Entrepreneur’ development programme in Kerry. Also, the Department of Social Protection offered some assistance when I was setting up my business.
Can you see your business expanding further or have you any other projects that you’re working on?
I’m always looking at changes in my industry to see if a product would have growth potential. I take on feedback from customers to see if I’m missing a target market with my current product range. Although, I don’t necessarily need to target every customer! At the moment, I do have products in mind and hopefully they’ll come to fruition before the end of the year. Also, I’ve just moved into my own production unit, which is so great, as this will give me more consistency with stock and new stockists around Ireland.
Engaging Online & Offline
Has having an online presence helped or hindered your business?
Being online has helped my product and informs customers of changes in my business. Sometimes, I can be shy so chatting about my product has made me more confident and honest about the ups-and-downs a food business can have. However, showing your face is a great way for customers to relate to you and to place ‘the face’ of a business instead of emails etc. Lately, I’ve been developing my blog subjects and that has been great and really is another creative outlet for me.
Being online has helped my product and informs customers of changes in my business.
How do you engage with your online customer?
Social media is my main avenue at the moment, I’m using both Instagram and Facebook and occasionally on TikTok. I’d love to develop a newsletter but I’m waiting to build more content and email base. It can all become time consuming!
Áine’s Tasteful Tips
What advice would you offer someone who is thinking of starting their own food business?
- Make sure to have a solid understanding of your customer – background and when and where they’d enjoy your product. Do a few surveys that either focus on general aspects of your product and then specifics, and combine them with a tasting survey. Local food markets are a great way to approach people.
- Join some local business groups. Get out to networking events. Any problems that you encounter have probably happened to others so to gain other business orientated insights is a bonus.
- They always say, ‘people buy from people’ so you need to have self-belief and a vision for what you’re selling and how it benefits your customer’s everyday life.
Brilliant Áine, thanks for sharing- We can’t wait to put some ginger zingyness back in our life over the coming months!
SHOP for Ginger Inspired products direct from Blasta Delights Website and there’s FREE SHIPPING on orders over €70.