Our Market Debut

We have found a post on the Canary Wharf Forums the other day, promoting a nearby social market about to happen. I was sad to see one more market that we had missed the application deadline for, but Kris was adamant on trying to ask them if they had any more free pitches left. We got the answer almost immediately that we can be fit into the roster of 10-11th of December.

The next two weeks we’ve spent with preparation, our printer operated almost non-stop and it was almost impossible to even eat at home as we have used all available tables to try to mimic the size of the pitch and find the perfect assortment of our products and promos. As the market had offered us a table and a gazebo to use, we only had to order a nice tablecloth and buy some extra props for our presentation. Of course what can go wrong, goes wrong, so H&M delivered our tablecloth to an unknown location and we have only figured the last evening that eventually we’ll also need some lighting equipment as well for the last two hours of the market, so we rushed to the nearest ASDA to pick up some battery operated lanterns. But Hey! We’re alive and now we had everything to succeed with our market debut.

15338335_375221209480992_6152871196498067456_nThe first day the weather wasn’t too friendly, generally it rained all day, but we did surprisingly good despite the weather conditions. I think at least every one of 5 visitors of the market actually bought something from us, and whoever tasted our orange & chillies infused cranberry juice or the vanilla & ginger infused apple juice we have prepared definitely converted into a customer. Okay not everyone, but 3 out of 4 for sure.

The other merchants were very friendly and for the second day, the weather also become mighty nice. For our surprise, the good weather meant less visitors, but other than that, we comfortably brought the same performance than the day before. In total, we had about a hundred happy customers over the two days, gave away 20 litres of hot fruit juice infusions in small tasters and got lots and lots of great feedback while we had a chance to perfect our pitch. We got invited to attend the future markets as well on the last Saturday of each month, so you can all count on finding us on Limehouse Basin Social Market with our artisan mulling spices.

It’s finally on!

After weeks of waiting, our first batch of packaging has arrived, so we were able to start the manufacturing process. The first few hundred boxes of the Ten Senses Classic version are packed and ready for delivery, so if you want to try our products early, this is your chance.

In the meantime we continue to work tirelessly to produce more of our finest mulling spice bags and to look for our first distribution partners and promotional spaces. If you know any store, market stall owner, bar or restaurant that would like to stock or feature our beloved product, please get in touch immediately.

Increasing efficiency

During the first test day of our manufactory process, we have ended up with just over 50 boxes worth of artisan mulling bags. We did the test primarily to identify all parts of the process that are in need of optimization to maximise output. To be able to maintain a healthy sale price on our product, we need to triple our current daily output.

Our biggest issue right now lays in the actual mulling bag filling process. The time needed to fill each bag with 5-6 different spices each is just too high. We cannot blend the ingredients together as by the time the smaller particles would collect at the bottom of the container and the mulling bags wouldn’t be filled with an even balance of the spice mixture to provide the best possible results in each and every bag. First, it seemed a checkmate, but for every problem, there’s a solution.

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Back to prototyping

All we knew about the new packaging needs that they have to stand out, must be durable and recyclable with a premium look but still be affordable on a scalable basis. We’ve put in another 3 days researching different box types and we ended up choosing a hexagonal shape for housing our mulling bags.

Luckily enough, we found a company in Italy that could print and die-cut the boxes for us at a solid price from relatively low minimum order quantities, so while I was doing my market research and completing up some missing parts of our business plan, Kris sat down to design and prototype Ten Senses 2.0.

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Our first photo shoot

Today was a big day, our first product photo shoot. It’s also a test for our packaging, as if it won’t look good on photos, we’ll struggle to sell any of it regardless how good the product inside is. We went to the Line Above Studio with a bunch of spices, two bottles of wine and a few packs of Ten Senses and got to work.

As our mulling bags are handcrafted, we have decided to use pallets as a background, and I gotta say the end results become quite pleasant.

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First packaging attempts

We have spent days trying to find a packaging solution matching our brand and also being affordable. We ended up ordering a few types of food safe packaging for our artisan mulling bags from the Tiny Box Company who you might have seen appearing in the Dragons Den.

To brand the packaging, we have ordered some stickers as of yet we are not ready to order big amounts custom printed. This is how we ended up with the Tiny Box guys as they were the only ones offering low quantities and were local. The order arrived very quickly in two days and we dressed up the first few of them with our stickers for the test.

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Branding Madness

My soon-to-be husband, Kris was hard at work designing the Ten Senses logo and branding. Based on my ideas, he drafted out half a dozen logo ideas, but neither of them really got me as a love for first sight. He is a designer by profession, and thanks God a very patient one so I feel quite lucky having him working this out. I’m pretty sure  any other designer would have lost their sanity and hair over my comments, but he stood his ground okay and has no hair anyway.

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The Journey Begins

It was only a few years ago when we got home soaking wet after a busy day, being caught off-guard by surprisingly heavy rain in London. We were craving for a hot mulled wine but felt no mood to cook up a whole bottle of precious wine. It would have taken about half an hour – hour to make and we knew that the next day will be even busier, so drinking more than a cup wasn’t a feasible option.

So I decided to take a different approach, emptied two teabags and filled them up with mulled wine spices and sewed them shut. In the meantime, my soon-to-be husband heated up two cups of fine Hungarian Merlot in about two minutes. We immersed the improvised mulling bags and in the wine, added a spoon of brown sugar to them and left it brewing. After only a few minutes we were sitting on the couch, sipping one of the best mulled wine we have ever tasted.

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