Caroline Kings, a professional writer, proved that almost any business can create and sell products. Last year she took my Launch It! product creation course and started selling a product range consisting picnic bags and food gifts.
Read on to find out how she got started and her top tips for other product creators.
Or, if you’d prefer, you can watch an interview with Caroline here.
Hi Caroline, tell us about you and your business
I write a local food blog called Eat Around Tonbridge (EAT), which isn’t really a business as I don’t make any money from it, but it has led to me creating two other businesses.
I set myself up as Caroline Kings Writer about three years ago after realising that people liked my writing style and were willing to pay for it. I write blogs, web copy, press releases, anything that involves words really, for small and large businesses across many sectors – not just food and drink. I absolutely love it – I love writing, meeting clients, being my own boss…the list goes on!
Throughout it all the EAT blog has been a constant. In 2019 I decided to take the plunge and fill a gap in the market that I’d identified. EAT Picnic Bags & Foodie Gifts was created with the help of Vicki, as a way for people to support local food and drink producers whilst attending outdoor events (outdoor concerts, theatre etc) and also when gifting.
Last summer I produced lots of delicious picnic bags for outdoor events and at Christmas I produced some fab Santa sacks filled with goodies for people to give as gifts.
Tell us more about the EAT Picnic Bags and Gifts and what inspired you
A few years ago, I went to Last Night of the Proms in Hyde Park with my mum and we pre-ordered a hamper full of food and drink for the event. It contained lots of really tasty and interesting food – a proper meal and dessert, plus plenty of snacks.
In Tonbridge, where I live, there are outdoor summer events at Tonbridge Castle and I realised that it would be great for people to have the option of buying a similar picnic with the food sourced locally. It really resonates with my blog’s ethos of supporting local and, luckily, was met with encouragement from many local producers.
I also wanted to make the picnic bags as environmentally friendly as possible. So much summer snack food in the supermarkets is wrapped in plastic and carries a high carbon footprint. The picnic bags are as environmentally friendly as I can make them and, of course, have a much smaller carbon footprint as the produce is so local.
What were your fears and concerns before starting the project?
I’d never created a product before and was concerned about how to go about it and how to get the best deal from suppliers – I didn’t want to come across as naïve and be ripped off. I also wasn’t sure about the picnic bags’ appeal – would people buy them?
Tell us about how your product actually became a reality
I went on Vicki’s course and loved how thorough it was. Many of my fears were allayed thanks to Vicki’s advice and many questions answered. I definitely had more confidence and had greater belief in myself and the product after going on the course.
I followed Vicki’s guidance and did my research into similar products, spoke to suppliers (with confidence), asking specifics about measurements, weight, amounts, price etc and did some market research.
And then I took the plunge! I ordered the paper picnic bags with my logo, set up my website page and I was off!
Are there any things you wouldn’t have done if you’d worked alone?
I wouldn’t have had the confidence to reach out to suppliers and to ask them the questions I asked about the products, the contents of the bag and the picnic bag themselves.
Vicki’s course really stressed how important it was to order sample products and to think about how you would receive them. She also really emphasised the importance of attention to detail and thinking about every aspect of what you’d like to sell – packaging, feel, appearance, whether you’re selling a luxury product or a more basic one, what would the consumers’ expectations be around how it was received?
I definitely wouldn’t have considered all of this if I’d set out by myself.
What did you particularly enjoy about the process?
Vicki is very encouraging and really makes you believe in yourself. I also love learning and this was such a new subject that I thoroughly enjoyed.
What are your top tips for anyone else looking to create a product?
I would say go for it, for sure, but definitely have someone like Vicki holding your hand! Vicki was on hand to answer questions and there was a supportive Facebook group too.
How are things going now?
Over Christmas I created my foodie gift bags (not paper picnic bags!) and took time out to reflect. I’ve hit a bump in the road with the process in 2020 but I’m working to overcome it ASAP!
I’m looking to extend the reach of the picnic bags to corporates (meetings, off-sites etc) and hospitality (AirBnB welcome bags). I’m also looking forward to helping people enjoy their outdoor summer events in Kent in 2020!
How can people contact you?
If you’re interesting in finding out more about my product creation course, you can do that right here.