Recently, I took my business, The Cookie Cups to a large art festival as a food vendor. Setting this up was no overnight feat. It required months of preparation, paperwork, meetings, cost analysis and goal setting. The first thought I had was whether I would be able to get the job done, and done well. I will tell you this, it wasn’t easy but I did it.
These are the things I found to be the necessary steps to take to prepare:
1. Purchase packaging in bulk (at wholesale pricing).
2. Find the most cost effective way to get the baking ingredients. I used Restaurant Depot. They have several locations nationwide.
3. Figure out a baking location. I was able to rent out a fellow baker’s bakery that I met at the local farmer’s market to make my product in large volume. Going from small to large volume is not easy and would have been close to impossible without a large bakery with large equipment.
4. You will need a staff. There is just no way around this! You can’t do it alone and you shouldn’t have to! I contacted Le Cordon Bleu and was able to hire culinary students who are passionate and eager to learn to help get the job done. They also worked as volunteers on site at the festival.
5. Get as much rest as you can before the event! Baking is only the half of it! Now you have to SELL and make those networking connections.
I know what you’re thinking, “How did I get it right the first time? Something must have gone wrong.” Well, you’re right. I don’t know everything and even if I did, there is always going to be something that happens out of my control. I had planned to start the baking Tuesday night before Friday’s event and 3 of my bakers showed up 2 hours late! Not only that but I quickly realized the goals I had set were not going to happen with the amount of bakers that I had or the size of the bakery. Luckily, we didn’t run out and were able to maintain steady sales through the weekend!
Taking advantage of festival season is a great way to market your business even if you don’t have a storefront location. You will get the opportunity to introduce your product to customers, and you will meet other business owners like you who will help you along the way!