The life of the artisan producer is definitely a lifestyle choice...
When we set out to create WhataHoot, to be honest we didn’t really understand or appreciate the unusual working patterns of a business whose distribution is largely dependent on festivals, events and farmers markets.
We always knew, of course, that events would be the mainstay for sales, particularly i the beginning as we established the brand and grew the website, but it isn’t until you are ‘on the circuit’ that you realise what an amazing lifestyle it is.
Hard work, certainly - getting up whilst it is still dark to pack the van and travel, quite often long distances (Norfolk is after all one of the UK’s biggest counties and we quite often have events out of county and in wider East Anglia) to the venue. Once there, we have established a military style operation of unloading the van, erecting the gazebo and setting up our WhataHoot trade stand just how we want it!
Through trial and (a lot!) of error, we have discovered what works best and what works best when it comes to showcasing WhataHoot to the public. However, this is also always changing, as we introduce new products, for which we have to find room in the limited space a 3m x 3m gazebo offers, plus we have evolved to meet the needs of our customers, for example, we now use reusable tasting glasses to reduce plastic waste with the disposable ones that we started with, but this means washing up is another factor we have had to introduce to the stand.
And of course, don’t even get me started on the days when we have two events at two different locations - you can imagine, with just the two of us, what that means...!
But life as an artisan producer is also hugely rewarding. We absolutely love meeting the public and by having so much personal contact with our customers, we have been able to get lots of feedback we have been able to evolve and create products which we know they really want.
There is also a real camaraderie amounts stand holders. Whilst there are a lot of local artisan producers here in Norfolk, we believe we have got to know nearly all of them and as you see many of them week in week out at these events, they are your working community and they become your friends. We also help each other out where possible! For example at the Aylsham Big Sausage Bash earlier this year, we were all taken a bit unawares by how heaving the event was and we were struggling to keep on top of the washing up of our tasting cups. However, lovely John from Gur Beck Country Foods had sold out of his scotch eggs by 11am so simply stepped in, got his rubber gloves on and washed up for us. Amazing! He still jokes about bringing his Marigolds every time he sees us!!!