First, a moment of gratitude for you.
I never could have imagined the outpouring of love since I announced my departure, nor the feedback I’ve gotten from friends about how I’ve helped them on their journey. Some are private clients, some are clients of Golden Sparrow, and some are people I’ve met thru the years of teaching or vending at various fairs and events.
Second, with all that love, comes a host of questions that you have, as well as questions I have about the logistics of all this. To make this transition as easy as possible, I figured it was best to outline my thoughts, the moving process for a business, and what my plans are for us (meaning you and I, of course!). Is all the transparency necessary? In my eyes, yes...so keep on readin'!
The first test run of shipping food went out in today’s mail. It’s local (i.e. it’s going from the Islip post office to one in the Hamptons), so it’ll get there tomorrow. It’s a VERY rough version of what will happen, if this proves to be cost-effective for me to ship to you. The containers I used for the meals aren't correct, as they just can’t sustain a long distance haul and couriers not being mindful of your meals. There's very specific packaging you need, which is being researched. All during a holiday week, of course. ;-)
The containers were a bit smaller than what I currently use and were a different shape. I was unfortunately only able to fit THREE meals in a large flat rate box. The meals did fit in the box well, even with the gel pack…but this is a large flat rate box, which costs about $18 to ship. That’s $18 for just the shipping itself, which doesn’t include the box, the insulation I need to use to keep the food at a safe temp, nor the gel packs themselves. We’re at a cost of at least $25, and that’s not including any actual food yet!
So it’s back to the drawing board, because that option doesn’t seem to be ideal. I need boxes and insulation that can hold at least 10 meals, to make it cost-effective. Unless you just want wraps, which will easily fit in that box! (That's not a viable solution for me, by the way...I like making MEALS, in addition to wraps.)
But this was all a test of the insulation and gel pack, as well as how it arrives. Remember that initial disclaimer, though…I said this was a local delivery, so the whole kit-n-caboodle is in travel 1-2 days less than they will be when I move to Maine. Nonetheless, testing must happen at some point, and it's better NOW than in Maine!
So with all that, here’s the basic checklist I need to accomplish before I can begin packaging and shipping food for you. (These are in no specific order, as some will happen simultaneously.)
- Test run shipment (pending the checking off of this item!).
- Work on two more catering events I have before I leave, slated for the week before we load the truck and leave.
- I'm also STILL working on creating the program for you in January. It may be less refined and fancy than I originally hoped, but that’ll just give you a lower cost for the same value and content.
- Find and price eco-friendly, biodegradable containers. I sanitize the ones I give you currently, and use them for quite some time before recycling them. That option is unfortunately not possible, once I shift to a postal-delivery service. I currently have a distribution company looking into containers that fit the bill of being biodegradable, lightweight, AND leak proof for travelling a distance.
- Price out ice packs, shipping boxes, and insulation.
- Find local grocery stores and health markets to find out what ingredients are available at a reasonable cost. Because of the nature of my business and the size, I typically pay retail prices…getting wholesale pricing in a different state, would offset the cost for the packaging!
- Price out above said food ingredients.
- Find a kitchen to cook in and price it. The laws are slightly different in Maine, but the basic process is the same as here…you need a commercial kitchen and a license for that kitchen, you need to have it inspected, and pay for all that fun stuff. This takes time, because you’re working with the government, and specifically the Board of Health. There's also a handful of labeling laws to look into, which I don't have to worry about currently.
- Create a menu that’s seasonal, and based off the inventory stores in Maine carry. I’m looking into other supply chains, but there has to be a good local selection first, to maintain part of my Mission Statement of supporting local.
- Find a post office/UPS location, and also research having it picked up by the courier of whatever kitchen I’m using. There are fees associated to the old “click-n-print” method, so finding a post office is the first priority in just getting this off the ground.
- Restock supplies and food of inventory being used here, to lighten the shipping haul!
- Research the legalities of a food business, which was put on hold when we found out we were moving sooner than expected. But hey, when the Universe calls, I’ve learned to answer. And I’m certainly not complaining about the new lifestyle in store for us! (We envision a snowy holiday season in new Pj’s and slippers, with a glass of Proseco or hot chocolate…looking out at acres of woodlands, evergreens, goats and moose!)
- Unpack our personal belongings and get settled, as well as organizing the business equipment that needs to be stored until I find another kitchen.
- Research payment methods and an ordering process, which means behind-the-scenes website updates.
- Find new banks and establish a new business in Maine – I’m legally licensed here in NY and like a car, you need a license to where you live.
- Work out a new meal prep/delivery schedule, to ensure food is being sent with the least amount of travel time.
- Find a local delivery person here in NY who is similar enough to what I do, to potentially handle some, all, or a portion of my current client load. Being the only 100% plant-powered, organic/non-GMO delivery service is a great marketing feature…until you move, and feel an obligation to your friends who rely on your weekly feedings! I have a service I’ve found and will share with you shortly - I’m finalizing the details now. I have to know my lil seedlings are being cared for, once I’m not in close contact with them!
- Recuperate! I WILL BE OFF for the last 2 weeks of December, at bare minimum. It’s the holidays, we’re relocating, and are quite exhausted already. We have 2 trips of driving in store for us, which are about 8-9 hours each way. The first trip is our car and a U-Haul, and the second trip is with our cats. That’s about 24-30 hours of driving in about a 4-day span of time, not to mention the load/unload of the vehicles, cleaning the house we currently live in, and the stress of driving 4 sedated cats for that length of time. But if you know us, you know we need our children to be under as little stress as possible. Having them with us when we load AND unload, is a bit traumatic for their little souls...so they'll just be unloaded in an unpacked home, when they finally arrive!