March 26, 2014

Year In The Life Of A Food Entrepreneur – Month 2

monkeypod jamBy Aletha Thomas, Monkeypod Jam   So here it is, late-mid March and I have yet to submit my February, Year in the Life update to Jennifer. I’ve sat in the same chair, on a half dozen late nights, typing out my mind’s ramblings. It’s not as if I don’t have any significant updates, in fact, I have loads of Monkeypod news I’m bursting at the seams to share with anyone slightly interested. But here’s the thing, I’ve learned the hard lesson over the past three years to keep my mouth closed about big news until well after the ship has sailed.

Case in point: Two summers ago, an outrageously exclusive department store expressed earnest interest in carrying our product. I was over the moon. After all, isn’t that what my husband and I had been working towards so diligently? I was so proud they were pursuing us, that I shared the joyous news with two, three, ok twenty plus of my closest friends, family and business confidants. In the end, the store felt we needed to reduce our wholesale pricing in order for them to sell our items at the corporate mandated 50% mark up. Through that experience I learned that 50% markup means doubling our wholesale price. We had to decline the request for lower wholesale pricing and lost the account. I was so disappointed, but learned a good business lesson. Explaining you didn’t quite make it for whatever reason, even a completely legitimate reason, is a humbling experience.

So, what I can say is this… The next few months of Monkeypod Jam ramblings should have at least one or two absolutely fabulous pieces of news to share. I’m learning that year four is our make it or break it year. I think we are going to make it! Actually, my charming assistant teases Rob and I that the growth potential is coming along so swimmingly, she’s going to walk in our house one day soon to find us curled up in little balls, hiding our heads, not knowing how to handle all the opportunities. Well, I sure hope so!

In the meantime, we have found, ordered, received, and applied our new jar labels. This is no small feat for a tiny manufacturing company. Over the past three years we have been printing our own labels, only to have them wrinkle on the jars hours after application. So much for Hawaii’s lovely humidity. But, we solved the problem with a new material, which once applied, may be left in a tropical storm and still look fresh and perfectly applied the next day. I actually lined up a row of newly labeled jars on the lanai during a doozy of a storm to make sure. The next morning, I came close to tears when three, very wet jars were still sitting on the ledge perfectly labeled. It really is the little things that make the biggest difference in our businesses. Jumping these hurdles seems to be what builds the character needed for what we see as the bigger leaps. It is my hope that you are jumping your small hurdles as well. And it’s perfectly fine to shed a tear of joy when using a gadget you’ve been saving for actually works, making your day a bit easier. Really, who am I to judge? After all, I cried over a plastic label!

Throughout this year we’re following the ups and downs of food entrepreneurship with Aletha Thomas, founder of Hawaii-based Monkeypod Jam.  You can read previous Year In The Life Of A Food Entrepreneur entries here (introductory story) and here (month 1) or visit Monekypod Jam’s website or Facebook page.

Related Articles: