56 episodes

Food marketing consultant and founder of Virginia Foodie, Georgiana Dearing, takes you behind the scenes of successful craft and local food businesses. For over twenty years, she's lead a team of creatives at Water Street Marketing. George is particularly passionate about her work in the food industry and now works to make her years of experience more accessible to emerging brands. This podcast is for you if you’re curious about the marketing tools, the business practices, and the stories that drive the good food, good people, and good brands in the specialty food industry. Learn more about food marketing here: vafoodie.com & h2ostreet.com

The Virginia Foodie Georgiana Dearing

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 6 Ratings

Food marketing consultant and founder of Virginia Foodie, Georgiana Dearing, takes you behind the scenes of successful craft and local food businesses. For over twenty years, she's lead a team of creatives at Water Street Marketing. George is particularly passionate about her work in the food industry and now works to make her years of experience more accessible to emerging brands. This podcast is for you if you’re curious about the marketing tools, the business practices, and the stories that drive the good food, good people, and good brands in the specialty food industry. Learn more about food marketing here: vafoodie.com & h2ostreet.com

    Guiding Food Producers from Recipe to Retail with Virginia Food Works (Replay)

    Guiding Food Producers from Recipe to Retail with Virginia Food Works (Replay)

    Few things are more exciting for small brands than getting their first commercially-packaged food products off the production line. 

    Allie Hill and Katharine Wilson, founder and director of Virginia Food Works, respectively, get to see this excitement firsthand through the work they do. This non-profit, located in the Prince Edward County Cannery & Commercial Kitchen, specializes in the creation of value-added foods from locally-grown ingredients.

    In today’s episode, we hear about the founding vision of Virginia Food Works and how they have upheld it over the years. We learn how they share the space with Prince Edward County Cannery & Commercial Kitchen and how their services differ, in respect to their work with small businesses.

    Allie and Katharine also offer insights into the range of clients they work with, along with the equipment and support they provide. As they can exclusively for resale, they use glass jars with metal lids and have specific systems for what can and cannot be processed. Our conversation also touches on the pandemic, community support, and fundraising.

    Stay tuned right till the end, where Allie makes an interesting pitch to farmers on how to create value-add products at the facility.
    Key Points From This Episode:
    Get to know Allie and Katharine and what Virginia Food Works does.The history of Prince Edward County Cannery & Commercial Kitchen.Hear more about home canning and what it entails.The two services at Prince Edward County Cannery & Commercial Kitchen; home canning and Virginia Food Works.Virginia Food Works makes foods exclusively for resale.How the pandemic affected Virginia Food Works and the adjustments they made.The impetus for starting a non-profit inside of an existing cannery and the support from the community.Virginia Food Works’s canning niche and why they do acidified food.The range of clients Virginia Food Works has and how they meet clients where they are.Some of the recipes Virginia Food Works owns that farmers can use.How farmers get help scaling recipes they might have produced at home.Why Virginia Food Works does not have batch minimums.The difference between Virginia Food Works and Hatch.Some of the equipment is available at Virginia Food Works.How Virginia Food Works raises funds; the support they get from Prince Edward County.What the future has in store for Virginia Food Works.A pitch for farmers who might be listening: how you can create a value-add product.Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
    Virginia Food WorksKatharine WilsonPrince Edward County Cannery & Commercial KitchenMichael PollanHatchCrescent SimplesDayum This is My JamFollow The Virginia Foodie here:
    VA Foodie websiteThe Virginia Foodie on InstagramVA Foodie InstagramVA Foodie on TwitterSupport the show

    • 33 min
    Brand Building, Merchandising, and Wholesale with Sandra Velasquez of Nopalera

    Brand Building, Merchandising, and Wholesale with Sandra Velasquez of Nopalera

    How do you create a brand with a destination in mind? That may seem like a vague and dreamy question, but in an industry where the margins are slim and competition for the shelf is challenging, starting your good food brand with a plan for where you ultimately want to take your business will get you to your goals faster than if you adopt the trial by fire approach.
    When you imagine the future for your brand, what stores are carrying your products? What kind of value does it add to the market? What is your brand known for, and what kind of community surrounds your product line? Spending time mapping out your future state is a valuable exercise. When you begin with your destiny in mind, you’ll know exactly how to handle each challenge you face along the way. The answers become easy when you face each issue by asking yourself, “what would my good food brand do?”
    When experienced product marketer Sandra Velasquez decided to launch her own beauty brand, she defined her destination first – even before selecting an ingredient list. She knew what kind of retailers she wanted to attract, and she built her brand from the ground up with those premium accounts in mind. And that meant considering everything – the cost of quality ingredients, the labor for producing it, the expense of social media management, and even the elements of her package design. Building these needs and expectations into her business plan prepared her for growth. And understanding her end goals from the very beginning attracted her perfect partners to her brand – she sent all the right signals that she was a brand that would elevate their brand.
    In this episode, Sandra shares the ups and downs of her journey in building a remarkable brand for her business, Nopalera. She reveals the truth behind branding, distributors, wholesale, and merchandising. She also encourages everyone to take advantage of advanced technology, which means it is a lot easier to find people. So, while anyone can make you a sell sheet, not everyone can build your brand from the ground up.
    Virginia Foodie Essentials:
    Building a brand and selling wholesale or just, in general, is also about timing. - Sandra VelasquezPassion is what drives the creative process, and that doesn't really have a great financial ledger attached to it.- Georgiana DearingKey Points From This Episode:
    Branding can either make or break the brand that you wanted to create.All stores are not good for your brand and all stores are not the right stores for your product. Other Resources Mentioned:
    NopaleraMore About the Guest:
    Sandra Velasquez is the founder of Nopalera, an award-winning Mexican Botanical Bath & Body brand based in New York City. It is currently sold in Nordstrom, Credo Beauty, Free People, and over 300 independent retailers nationwide. She launched Nopalera from her Brooklyn apartment in November 2020 with no outside funding, while working three jobs, at the age of forty-four. Prior to launching Nopalera, Velasquez was the leader of the Latin Alternative band Pistolera, which toured internationally, released three studio albums, and had its music featured on hit TV shows like Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, and NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert. 
    Follow The Virginia Foodie here:
    VA Foodie websiteThe Virginia Foodie on InstagramVA Foodie InstagramVA Foodie on TwitterSupport the show

    • 34 min
    Slow is Smooth: The Fastest Way to Grow Your Food Brand

    Slow is Smooth: The Fastest Way to Grow Your Food Brand

    It's so easy to feel pressured to get things done as quickly as possible, especially in food marketing. That feeling often leads to business owners to rush, and push out their marketing needs as quickly as possible. This might compromise your business’ output and even hurt your brand. 
    The same goes for many aspects of running a business - there’s that constant pressure that comes from the need to think, act, produce and earn.
    When you’re in this situation, remember that things aren’t as bad as you imagine and whenever you feel like you’re being overwhelmed by the day-to-day of operating your business, stop and take a breath. 
    I just love how Phil Dunphy, beloved dad figure from the hit sitcom Modern Family, says it: “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast!”  It rings so true when you’re in the good food economy. Taking it slow and assessing your situation, making a list of the things you need, and most importantly, creating a plan on how to move forward are essential to keeping your business on track.
    Virginia Foodie Essentials:
    Whenever you feel overwhelmed, never hesitate to give yourself a breather, assess your circumstances, and come up with a list of things that need to be done that can help you move forward.Having a plan calms the overwhelm.Take a moment. Make a list –  a legitimate, written list. That simple act of list-making turns all those thoughts in your head vying for attention into actions that you may or may not need to take immediately.Key Points From This Episode:
    A mission statement is different from a brand strategy, and both are different from a marketing strategy.Your mission statement is the WHY of your brand: why you exist and what you're doing to earn your money.Your brand strategy is how you are communicating that mission to the market and may include direction for the types of words and imagery that you'll use to differentiate yourself from the competition. Your business plan should describe where should you focus your energy to grow sales.Your marketing strategy uses your brand strategy and your business plan to create a strategic plan for communication to the right audience, at the right times, to support your sales goals.Follow The Virginia Foodie here:
    VA Foodie websiteThe Virginia Foodie on InstagramVA Foodie InstagramVA Foodie on TwitterSupport the show

    • 10 min
    Scaling Your Food Brand Through Co-Packing with Sage’s Ashley Sutterfield

    Scaling Your Food Brand Through Co-Packing with Sage’s Ashley Sutterfield

    To scale or not to scale. To grow, but how far? What's the right choice for your brand? 
    Many brands choose co-packing as the next best step for increasing production to meet market demand. But choosing a co-packer can be a nerve-wracking process. Handing over your recipes to someone else feels like you are relinquishing control over your business. So it’s not surprising that many food brands delay the decision until it’s almost too late. Many times, the rush to increase your production in a hurry causes unsatisfactory results.
    In this episode, Ashley Sutterfield joins me and talks about how co-packing helps businesses scale their production and how you can determine if it’s the right move for your business. Her team at Sage helps calm the chaos surrounding brand growth by crafting specific solutions for each food business as she guides them through a new, and often confusing, aspect of the food industry. 
    One takeaway you shouldn’t miss from this episode: not every brand follows the same path for growth, and that is okay!
    Virginia Foodie Essentials:
    We need to change how food gets to us from the ground to our families. - Georgiana DearingWhen companies first come to us, they think that co-packing is the solution. And that's simply because that's what the industry talks about. We want companies to know that they have other options. - Ashley Sutterfield I was seeing this very large frustration for entrepreneurs around co-packing. And I want to help ease the lives and make things simpler for food entrepreneurs. So that's really where I wanted to begin focusing. - Ashley SutterfieldBrands in their first few years are in a period of growth that is a very push-me/pull-you situation. It’s centered around their capacity for supply and demand. It can be nerve-wracking for a brand – you need more sales to grow your business, but you also need to have the production capacity to support those new sales. - Georgiana DearingKey Points From This Episode:
    Choosing a co-packer can be a nerve-wracking processBrands don't know what they don't know about working with co-packersCo-packing is not the only optionCo-packing is great but may not be the right move for your food brandMany brands decide to increase their own manufacturing capacity and often end up co-packing for other small brands in their region.Working with a co-packing coach or consultant helps you understand the next steps to takeSage's services start with an 8-week Coaching for Clarity program that helps brands assess their real needs for expansionCoaching isn't a lifetime commitment — you may get what you need in a few weeks or a few monthsMore About the Guest:
    Ashley Sutterfield is the CEO and Owner of Sage, an empathy-based food production coaching and consultancy firm that helps food brands understand their options so they can get the answers they need to feel empowered to act. Sage works with primarily female-owned companies across the food and beverage industry that are starting a new phase of growth in their business.
    Follow Sage:
    WebsiteFollow The Virginia Foodie here:
    VA Foodie websiteThe Virginia Foodie on InstagramVA Foodie InstagramVA Foodie on TwitterSupport the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/vafoodie)

    • 26 min
    The Four Seasons of Sales and Marketing for Good Food Brands

    The Four Seasons of Sales and Marketing for Good Food Brands

    The change of seasons always gives me a lift. Spring to summer to fall to winter. It's a lovely cycle. - Georgiana Dearing
    All things are made beautiful in their time. Everything has its proper timing, and every action or idea on this earth is attenable if you are sensitive to its flow and when it should come to fruition.
    Business planning is no different, and if you’re a food business and sales and marketing activities are consuming lots of mental energy, then there’s no easier way to align your strategy and campaigns than with the cycles of food and farming seasons. 
    Every season has its own characteristic that is comparable to a phase of your business cycle. Spring is for planting, summer for nurturing, autumn for harvesting, and winter for rest and renewal. Sales and marketing activities complement each season, just as nature drives every part of the process of growth.
    Even with each season mapped out, there is still a level of volatility involved because there are many things that may be out of your control. However, science, technology, and marketing principles are on your side, so you shouldn't be reactionary in your business. Knowing when each season is coming, you can proactively and successfully plan ahead for the coming months to yield profit and success.
    Virginia Foodie Essentials:
    Seasonal quarters don't align with fiscal quarters and I'm not expecting anyone to change their financial forecasting just to manage a marketing plan.Planting. Nurturing. Harvesting. Rest and renewal. That's the cycle of farm life and also a good model for the packaged food industry.Farming doesn't happen in the spur of the moment. The weather and nature are forces that a farmer cannot control, farming is not a reactionary business. Your business shouldn't be reactionary, either.Make a plan for each season of your sales and marketing, and you'll be prepared for whatever storm that hits.Key Points From This Episode:
    Spring is for “planting" activities for food brands, including laying the foundation for future growth. This involves seeking out new partners and exploring and building new communities.Summer is for "nurturing" activities for food brands, including toiling the soil of new leads, meetings, and follow-up with category representatives, sharing your founding story to new followers, and building the name and face of your brand.Autumn is for the “harvest” activities like prepping for end-of-year sales, closing newly-inked deals, and extending your audience before running campaigns.Winter is the time for celebrating the year-end, reflecting on past performance and evaluating what worked and what didn't work, then making a plan for next year's cycle. Most importantly, in this season especially, always allot time to rest and renew. Follow The Virginia Foodie here:
    VA Foodie websiteThe Virginia Foodie on InstagramVA Foodie InstagramVA Foodie on TwitterSupport the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/vafoodie)

    • 10 min
    Is Your Packaging Helping or Hurting Your Sales?

    Is Your Packaging Helping or Hurting Your Sales?

    One of the things I hear a lot from small and startup businesses is that deciding on product packaging is the most exciting and awaited part of the production process and business launch. What color to use, what size of the box or jar, how many inches from the lid should the logo sit. These are the thrilling questions that get thrown in the brainstorming process for packaging.
    Unsurprisingly, it can also be the most nerve-wracking, and here’s why. Packaging has the smallest physical space but needs to work the hardest. With competition getting tighter, as a brand, you only have that microsecond to convince your ideal customer to grab your product from a sea of other somewhat similar products on the shelf. The wrong color, confusing label, illegible fonts, or awkward container can throw off your customer - and there goes the sale.
    Regardless of your business size or how long you’ve been in the market, if you want to succeed in retail, hiring a professional package designer is an investment that pays off over the life of your brand. It’s something you simply can’t shrug off. Nor can you try to just wing it. What you invest in your packaging can make or break your brand in the retail environment.  
    Virginia Foodie Essentials:
    Product packaging is one of the five places that a food brand controls its brand story. Packaging is your silent salesman. Your package design needs to tell your brand story when you aren't there to explain it to the shopper.Purchase decisions are made in microseconds at the shelf, and research shows that shoppers will change their minds at the very moment they reach to put products into their cart.Confusing your audience and then making it hard for them to use your product is never a good idea no matter what the cost-savings. The trick in packaging is to make sure that the brand essence can be translated into a small shape and still support all the technical needs of packaging for the US market.Your brand essence, your product positioning, your flavor profiles, the legal requirements, manufacturing processes, and the refill and replenishment costs over the life of your brand.Key Points From This Episode:
    Packaging can make or break sales in the retail environmentPackaging is probably the first big investment a small brand makesPackage design is an investment and not as a sunk costThe big communication work your package does is set expectationsChoosing colors is important, especially for future expansionSubtle shifts in design elements can convey different messagesPackage design is part of a manufacturing processProduct packaging needs to weather the storm and extreme changesTrue craftsmanship takes timeGood package design firms understand all the legal requirementsProject-based fees keep clients and service providers in checkFollow The Virginia Foodie here:
    VA Foodie websiteThe Virginia Foodie on InstagramVA Foodie InstagramVA Foodie on TwitterSupport the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/vafoodie)

    • 8 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
6 Ratings

6 Ratings

lizpthom ,

ET

I love the way George takes you behind the scenes on all types of food businesses! It’s a good mix of educational and inspirational. I’d highly recommend this for anyone in the food industry.

kwilly4 ,

Great interviews!

Such a great mix of food industry folks across the state- a fun way to hear from new businesses and learn more about favorite brands!

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