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Merry Berry

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  1. Of course he did. What do you know about chocolate and the EZtemper πŸ™„ Don't ya just love it when people ask for help, but swear it just CANNOT be them that is causing the problem?
  2. Chocolates with that backroom finish is probably what you are looking for.
  3. Didn't even tell us what they are filled with...how rude πŸ˜‹ Just joking. Those are beautiful.
  4. I always used dish washing gloves when I would pull sugar. Minas6907 suggestion looks like a winner too.
  5. How about something like a craqueline? Would that work since it is basically a sugar cookie paste. Roll it thin, cut out pieces with an upside down piping tip and bake off? I was going to try that first, but your idea, Jim, sounds good too. I guess since no one else is chiming in, it is time to experiment this weekend haha.
  6. We have been in the 90s and nearly touching 100 during the past few days and it looks like that is the norm for the next couple of weeks. But coupled with that is about zero cloud cover nor humidity. That means our lows at night will be in the mid 60's. Couple that with the production facility I utilize is located on a nearby mountain that is typically 5-7Β°F cooler and I am planning some chocolate production for a change. Midnight Chocolate Run?
  7. Merry Berry


    I have GOT to make these!!! Just have to source some molds first.
  8. Well sounds like you have thought it through. I should have known you would have from reading other posts on here from you haha. Staunton might be small, but what is the surrounding area population? Of course, going further outside your zone might not be desirable, but that would be my first inclination. 20k is a good start, but from looking at the map, it appears your 100 mile radius puts you within quite a bit of population. But I understand if you are not trying to work that hard as you mentioned earlier. That would be a tough game of selling all over the map and trying to make chocolates. As far as Hershey's, blech. I am quick to sample someone my chocolate's (or nearly anyone else's for that matter) tabled with Hershey's. I know it is "popular", but once you start to educate people on that disgusting burn in the back of the throat Hershey's causes, then they start to notice it and how smooth artisan chocolate can be. How many people say they "hate" dark chocolate, but change their tune when they try good dark chocolate paired with great flavorings? I know that is an uphill fight in some ways, but younger people seem to be bigger fans of chocolate other than the same ole same old. As far as a profit. Are you not showing a profit at all from year to year? If so, then what keeps you doing it exactly (I know profit on taxes is not always equal to profit in the real world)? I do not know your situation, but I would believe you qualify in nearly each category of Hobby vs Business https://www.journalofaccountancy.com/issues/2013/oct/20138370.html . If your loss is really close year to year, then that typically passes the smell taste with the IRS, but obviously I would listen to the professional you mentioned beforeπŸ˜‰ Just a few thoughts, but I am sure you have probably thought about them already. I hope your increase in price is a success!!
  9. I believe, from my perspective, that you are torn about this (if I am completely wrong, then ignore me haha). But it sounds like you are in the middle of deciding whether to take this on full-time as a business or not. You mentioned that you are wanting to go from hobbyist to a business, but it appears you are not treating it like that for several reasons. 1. You never mentioned your break-even point. I have a few basic worksheets I used a while back to run different numbers to get a feel for my business startup. I am going to attach them, but anyone can change them around and add and take things away as they see fit. The two Word document numbers will need to be used in the Excel file (anything in blue in the Excel file is to be changed by you while anything in black is static and should not have any inputs). There are probably better documents out there, but I liked this one for its simplicity (we used them during Entrepreneurship courses). This will take into account your fixed and variable costs. I left numbers in there in case you want to see how it works. 2. You mentioned being forced to buy 500 pieces from a box distributor even though they are terrible. Damaged product and poor customer service should be a quick divorce from them. You are the customer and in this day and age of online distributors, there are too many better options out there. I know it takes forever to find what you are looking for exactly because there are so many options, but oftentimes, these places have sales reps in your region. One of my good friends uses Nashville Wraps and after he called them, they were meeting with him the next day (I am not promoting them, just using them as an example). Sometimes we forget that WE are the customers at times too, which means we deserve our vendors' best. I imagine you would be mortified to send out mislabeled product, damaged goods, and provide poor customer service. 3. You are looking too much at your pricing as a cost-based model. For chocolatiers (and honestly most products and services), that is often a mistake unless it's a commodity good. You are not selling corn or wheat. Chocolates are, for most intents and purposes, a luxury good. If you have a good product (which I imagine you do from everything I see on here), people will value it and buy it (value-based pricing). When it comes to chocolates, if they are priced too low, I assume the producer is either selling millions of units (very unlikely) or cheaping out on the ingredients or process. I know I would be very skeptical of a chocolate at a $1-1.25 price point. I cannot help but feel even $1.50 is too low for your time and effort. Most professional chocolatiers are typically at the $2/piece average price point it seems. That makes sense, and I would be inclined to follow that similar lead (competition-based pricing). And of course, you can discount up to $1.50/piece as the piece per box or order increases. There is a reason chocolatiers enjoy margins most other food-based businesses will never come close to hitting. Typically low overhead and minimal equipment compared to a restaurant are an attractive arrangement. I think you will be pleasantly surprised what the market in your area will bear. The worst thing you can do is be wishy washy about your prices by increasing them a little at a time. At the very least, set it at $2 and then run discounts or promotions to help offset it if you feel uncomfortable with $2/piece. That higher price point means you can withstand some ingredient price increases without it completely wiping out your margin, forcing you to raise prices as the market shifts up and down. I hope I have not offended you in case you already know all this. Just my perspective outside, looking inward. I think what you are doing is exciting and it also helps me refocus on things I forget in my own fledgling business. Hope you are well. Sweet Merry Berry Startup Costs.doc Sweet Merry Berry Income Streams.doc Sweet Merry Berry Cash Flows.xlsx
  10. So I am definitely someone who had no use for social media until I started a business. I feel like I am trying to drink water through a fire hose trying to learn how to use it. A lot of people suggested trial and error which is working okay for me now, but just wondering if anyone had any tried and true techniques or resources they use for FB, IG, etc. I know others say to check out others and emulate them, but then I get confused on how they did it in the first place. Just curious how you all approach it. I think one of the biggest hangups I have is getting the perfect picture when I set up for an event. To me, it does not look appetizing since the lighting looks so muted, and everything is in hotel pans, etc. Others (non-chefs) tell me it looks good, but I disagree. Do y'all just pull some aside, put in a nice dish with a black background and photo like that? Again, so much inexperience and confusion haha. Thanks in advance.
  11. Another catering event. This time, just a simple Vanilla Bundt cake with mixed berries and lemon glaze. Again, this time of year in the heat and humidity, something light and simple is preferable. All of it (2 cakes) was gone by the time the luncheon was over. Always happy with no waste!!
  12. Yes, I make a mascarpone mousse with a bombe mixture heated to 165, add the gelatin sheets and fold in the mascarpone. Then fold in the whipped cream. It sets it up nicely, but not overly so (it is still light and airy without being too rigid). I typically have to keep it frozen since it will start to sag over time in the cooler.
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