Our biggest aim with Deliciously Ella is to make eating well a little bit easier and more accessible. I really believe that the simpler it is to get delicious, natural food the more likely we are to eat it, and that’s why Matt and I are so keen to get our products into as many places as possible – although that’s much easier said than done! We get lots of questions on starting a food business, our biggest obstacles and any advice that we feel is key, so I thought today was a good moment to talk about this, since we’ve just launched our second range. I’ve picked out all of your most common questions and answered them below, so I hope this will be useful for you all – if there’s anything I’ve missed please do share it in the comments and I can add it in…
Q: How Long Does it Take to Develop a Product?
I’m sure everyone would have a different answer to that question but it’s taken us about nine months each time. We looked at so many different ideas, some of which we took to the next stage and others which didn’t make it past initial discussions, before we settled on the three that we took to market: our original granola, our nutty granola and our bircher muesli.
Q: How Do you Decide Which Products to Make?
We have really strict criteria on what we’re happy to make, as we want everything to stick to the Deliciously Ella brand values and that means they need to be natural, simple and honest: no additives, preservatives, stabilisers etc and transparent recipes which use ingredients that you’d have at home and can make yourself. We’re also really keen to ensure that we’re creating genuinely useful products that have a place in your life so we want all of our new product development to be guided by you guys, as our customers are the most important part of everything we do. That means that we look at what’s been popular online, what’s been popular in the books, what do we see the most photos of and the most questions about and then we try the product in the deli so that we can get direct feedback on it and ensure that it really is what you want. We found that the cinnamon and pecan granola from the blog had consistently been one of the most popular recipes online and the variation we did of it in the deli was a real hit too, that combined with the fact that we could make these products using just great, natural ingredients made it a winner in our eyes (and hopefully in yours!)
Q: What’s Been the Biggest Challenge So Far?
Getting everything ready in time is always hard. I’m a perfectionist and always want to make a hundred tweaks to the packaging, like moving raisins a mm to the left and clusters of granola a few mm’s to the right! Braving sharing the product is big too, you work so hard on the project for so long without anyone knowing what you’re doing that suddenly bringing it to life and sharing it with the world can feel a little daunting. I got really nervous the few days before the launch this time – I loved the breakfasts that we’d created and we’d had amazing feedback from the stockists but very few people had sampled the final thing and everyone always gives me such direct feedback that I knew we’d know exactly what you all thought! Good news is that so far everyone has loved it and we’ve been doing little happy dances everyday to celebrate that.
Q: How Did You Get all Your Stockists
In many ways the Deliciously Ella route has been incredibly unusual. I started writing the blog five years ago and created our social media channels about four years ago. As these grew, I created a pretty big audience and that meant by the time we came to create a product we had an existing customer base that stockists thought would be excited by what we made. This did allow us to skip a few steps and go straight in to bigger retailers, like Waitrose, which we feel so grateful for. I do think there’s something really exciting about being able to create your own audience, your own customer base and your own brand just through communicating authentically across the online channels that now exist and I couldn’t recommend this route more.
We are lucky to have an incredible, experienced team in the office who run a lot of the negotiations with supermarkets and other retailers. Due to the profile and following that Deliciously Ella has built, we’ve been lucky to be able to get good access to buyers, but ultimately the distribution and amount of stores you go in to is completely up to them. When you can be listed also depends a lot on their internal range reviews as every inch of space on the shelf is planned out and they only change their layout once or twice a year. I know some readers get frustrated that we’re not in the local shop, area or country and I promise you if we could be everywhere then we would be but sadly it’s not quite as easy as that and ultimately it lies outside of our control but we’re working hard on it every single day!