I’m still asking myself – what the hell just happened last Sunday? Well this is my opportunity to kind of figure that out.
So the thinking behind having a stall at the Festival of Heat on 27th September 2015 was to test out our sauces on chilli-loving Londoners, see what people liked and didn’t like and then take a load of feedback on board. This would help us tweak a few things and gear up for a proper launch before Christmas. We even got really geeky and thought we could do some sort of A/B testing to try out what did and didn’t resonate from a branding point of view.
So that brilliantly hatched plan went straight out of the window at about 12:02, 2 mins after the gates opened. What then followed was, entirely due to our own failings, a bit of a shambles.
Here are the highlights of what actually happened:
The power of Pombears – the teddy shaped potato snack
We learnt a big lesson that day, people’s capacity to munch through a serious amount of crisps. We got through 3 shopping bags of various tortilla chips, mini poppadums and rice cake snacks in about 2 hours. My brother Tim had to run to the local Sainsburys and pick up a load of more, and Tim, being a lover of nostalgic childhood treats, bought some seriously random stuff. What proved to be the biggest hit of the day was the Pombears, which when unleashed prompted more questions than the actual sauces. So big news people, try eating Pombears with hot sauce, it rules!
The make-up box
Our till solution was a tin with the word ‘Clinique’ across the top. Yes, we stored our cash in a MAKE-UP box! Obviously this solution failed massively to both hold our takings in any sort of order and also do it securely. So I had to resort to stuffing cash down my pockets at various intervals – not very secure at all – while our newly found customers waited patiently for their change. Oh, that’s another lesson we learnt, get loads of change. We very quickly ran out and had to go order pints from the bar to get some extra fivers and pound coins.
How on earth did a small army (my awesome family and I) struggle to keep up with demand while my very organised neighbour managed all day just on his own? And I can tell you that his sauces were in just as much demand as ours! Clearly we should have assigned some roles and responsibilities, but anyway I’m eternally grateful particularly to my wonderful girlfriend, siblings and sibling-in-laws for working so hard that day.
There are some seriously passionate chilli-lovers out there, with a surprisingly large threshold for the burn. One guy dropped by and was almost offended at how our Screaming Pepper wasn’t anywhere near spicy enough for him. And another awesome kid, who was literally like 11 years old, interrogated me on the specifics of the ingredients in each product. It was seriously awesome to meet so many people with such a love for the heat – such enthusiasm is totally infectious and inspiring.
The extra hot one
And the proof was in the sales. Being so run off our feet that day was actually a really great thing, and our top seller of the day was indeed the Screaming Pepper, which actually sold out! This is quite funny considering that (now, I’m being really honest here) it was only ever an after-thought that we knocked up as a special for the festival. The plan went something along the lines of “let’s just take the Zingy recipe and use something crazy like the hottest chilli in the world or something”.
I’ve been so encouraged by the conversations and reactions from London’s chilli lovers that, well, LET’S DO THIS! Watch this space as we work on fully unleashing on the unsuspecting public.
Founder @ SIDEKICK®