The first quarter of 2016 has come and gone. As the CEO of Mallow and Hop it's time for me to check in with my executives and see how stuff is going!
Quarterly Review, Jan-Apr 2016
Report from the CFO, Karen Marshall
Well, turns out Mallow & Hop's financial situation isn't all that bad thanks to three things: a) one fairly steady wholesale / bulk account through the winter, b) the fact that the business is registered as a Sole Proprietor and therefore c) money coming in from the aforementioned Day Job can be used to pay off marshmallow debt. In addition, claiming those marshmallow losses from 2015 against overall income resulted in a better than expected tax return. I'll also chime in that the company is doing ok because the CFO isn't being paid a salary. Harumph.
Report from the Head of Sales, Karen Marshall
2016 has not been so great. We've let a few accounts slip through on account of fear of rejection and aforementioned wholesale / bulk account is either drying up because the winter is over or I'm just freaking out because the expected order is coming later than usual (the feeling is not unlike a pregnancy scare waiting for the arrival of the Monthly Visitor and getting more paranoid at every passing day). In truth, we just don't have any employees who are good at or enjoy sales, and therefore Karen spends her time doing other stuff. And the thing is, no one can say that that other stuff isn't important - it is! It's just that it counts for nothing without sales. This has to be our main focus in Q2.
Report from Head of HR, Karen Marshall
It appears that our employees are spending an inordinate amount of time on personal Twitter accounts and friend's Facebook posts fighting and obsessing about the 2016 Presidential Election. It's important that we crack down on this, as it is seriously impacting our company productivity.
Report from the Head of Legal, Karen Marshall
No comment. (Ok: comment. I'm pretty much that dog holding the beaker wearing goggles in that "I have no idea what I'm doing" meme.)
Report from Head of Customer Relations, Karen Marshall
Well we got a very very nice, uplifting and heartwarming email from a potential customer on January 28th and we finally responded on April 8th so.... not so good.
Report from Head of R&D, Karen Marshall
I, unlike my colleagues, have much to report! The first quarter of the year was incredibly busy and fruitful and has resulted in a line of 5 marshmallow based candy bars. These aim to answer the number #1 question Mallow & Hop fields: "What do you do with them?" You don't have to ask that about a candy bar. You eat a candy bar. It also allows for a lot more creativity in the pairing of flavors, which appeals to me on a very base level.
Of course, the process of developing a line of candy bars requires me to temper a lot of chocolate. Like, a lot of chocolate. Doing it by hand was cumbersome as heck, so I started looking into other options. After researching a number of different chocolate tempering machines - which can cost up to $30,000 - I landed on the American Chocolate Mould Co.'s Tabletop Temperer. It is truly beastly in size and looks not unlike a Star Wars Droid.
ACMC cost about $900 and literally uses the heat from light bulbs to heat chocolate and fans to cool the chocolate. It is the most low-tech $900 gadget you have ever seen. ACMC is my new best friend.
The following flavor bars have been perfected:
- IPA marshmallow, spicy caramel, pretzels
- Coffee marshmallow, chocolate creme cookies
- Lemon marshmallow, white chocolate ganache, pie crust
- Strawberry marshmallow, peanut gianduja, peanuts
- Mint marshmallow, chocolate, crisped rice cereal
Report from Head of Marketing and Design, Karen Marshall
The first bar that I deemed good enough to name was the IPA marshmallow, spicy caramel and pretzels. Because that reminded me of bar snacks and the bar I frequent the most often is the Hermosillo (home of Highland Park Brewery), it got the name The Highland Park.
From there, it seems like a pretty good idea to name the bars after various neighborhoods in Los Angeles - after all, as long as I'm a Los Angeles Cottage Food Operation, only establishments in Los Angeles can carry my products. Keep it local!
At the very beginning, I put the bars in clear plastic bags so you could see the bar through the packaging. Unfortunately, chocolate bars are just not incredibly attractive. They all look the same and give no indication as to flavor. As an experiment, type "#candybar" into Instagram: almost every picture is of a Display of Candy. You'll be hard pressed to find a Snickers.
So I decided to box them.
At first, the idea was to have one long label that wrapped around 2 lengths and 1 side of the box. It looked... fine.
But it didn't sing. And the head-on cross-section doesn't look as appetizing as I'd hoped. So I kept working on it. And eventually, it lead here:
A square label that is designed to be applied askew results in the ability for more labels to be printed per page (for until they are officially approved I am definitely using my own printer and not my day job's printers 100% cross my heart and swear to bob...) while retaining visual interest.
In addition, the decision to give up and sell Vanilla Marshmallows led to a design need - I wanted it to feel out of the world of my other flavors, a little more classy but rustic. This led to ordering a custom stamp from RubberStamps.net, which is a fantastic site that everyone should order from. The ingredients panel is a simple black on white box on the back of the sleeve.
Goals & Expectations into the second quarter, April - June
- Personal debt paid off, including hospital bills & student loans: eta end of May.
- Evaluation of reception to new products at Unique LA (April 30th + May 1st) and Bust Craftacular (May 7th).
- Aggressively pushing wholesale availability of products, possibly with aid of a low-pay intern (aka my boyfriend).
- Plan for how to deal with chocolate quality in the increasingly hotter Southern California weather.
- Less recipe development and more sales, no matter how fun the idea for a new flavor sounds.
Let's see how Q2 goes. Recipes soon.