Following being announced as the Small Artisan Producer of the Year award at 2019’s Great Taste Awards, we caught up with our friend and client of Toast Food, Sarah Churchill at The Artisan Kitchen.
Since then they have gone on to win 75 Great Taste awards since 2012, with 16 of their products picking up awards in 2019 alone, it’s an amazing achievement and fully deserved. Here’s our interview with Sarah.
Ice-breaker – allow us to get to know you a little better: how do you take your coffee/tea?
At home, strong coffee with CoffeeMate is a great start to the day.
If you had to describe your company in one line, what would it be?
Handcrafted, delicious, preserves.
What is your role there?
I have a completely hands-on role in every aspect of my business – Owner, producer, distributor & bottle washer.
What was the biggest obstacle you had to get over to establish your business?
My sales nerves! I am not a natural salesperson, but I have had to overcome this very quickly & have now a great portfolio of wonderful stockists from Selfridges to Wholefoods & a host of lovely independent foodie shops
What do you look for in a design partner?
A quick understanding of my business, customers and visualization of the project brief. Toast & Chris Tymon translated my thoughts & ideas so clearly with strong concepts that were so good I was spoilt for choice.
What’s been the most enjoyable surprise in business?
Meeting all my wonderful foodie stockists, every business I supply is unique and individual but all share a great passion for fantastic British produce.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Artisan Kitchen has grown very quickly, and this year I was bowled over to receive the Small Artisan Producer of the Year at this year’s Great Taste Awards and to also receive 18 Great Taste Awards for my products this year too. Since 2012 we have won 75 Great Taste Awards and this had a huge impact on the rate of sales.
I’ve had to find ways of producing & packaging in an efficient manner whilst increasing productivity at the same time. Toast Food designed my new labels and applied my food branding so that it condensed award stickers & two labels into one wrap-around label, which has helped save a lot of labelling time. I also purchased a new labelling machine, which has really sped up the whole process.
Did you have a detailed marketing plan in place when you started up?
My business was such a micro start-up in 2011, the budget for marketing was tight so I had to be clever and use what I had carefully. After initial feedback from buyers, I knew I had to invest in the look and feel of the products to stand out on shelves and promote the growing range. I grew my business through social media, mainly Twitter, which has been fantastic for brand awareness and for connecting B2B, generating editorials with some lovely glossy magazines
Did you follow it? Do you follow one now?
Still don’t have a marketing plan as such, but my goal for this year was to feature in some of the high-end weekend glossy magazines and we have some great features coming up in November & December.
How do you measure your success beyond the bottom line?
A happy customer! – I get lovely emails from customers of our stockists, along with great product feedback at tastings. I truly believe if you make a fantastic quality product, that is consistent in every way whatever product it, customers will come back time and time again.
What value do you place on your current ‘Brand’?
It’s about great tasting preserves, High-quality ingredients & strong branding,
If you could pass on one piece of advice to someone looking to do the same – what would it be?
Always make the best product possible and do this consistently.
If you had to describe Toast in one line, what would it be?
Innovative, Imaginative, Bold with strong modern design
Last one – how important is design and branding to your company’s success?
It’s been pivotal – I get so many compliments from producers, retailers & customers on my brand, I know it’s good. Not one to stand still though I will be looking forward to the next branding phase with Toast for future projects
We would like to thank Sarah for taking the time to answer our questions and share their insights and experiences with us, not just about starting a business but growing it and the problem that they faced along the way. We wish them all the best for the future. Find out more about The Artisan Kitchen and their great jam at www.theartisankitchen.co.uk
Keep an eye out for other interviews with food and drink producers and other ‘Friends of Toast’.