Starting up a brand-new business from scratch is never easy – doing it during a national lockdown even harder. Now throw in three small children, aged 5, 4, and 3, and you have a real challenge on your hands!
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough, largely because of the schools being closed. It was impossible to make sales calls with three small kids screaming in the background!” says Dominique Woolf, who launched her own range of Thai-inspired sauces in the summer of 2020.
But by working every night after the kids had gone to bed and through the weekend, while doing the more responsive tasks during the day, she has successfully managed to build her own distinctive brand – The Woolf’s Kitchen.
She explains, “My husband does most of the childcare at the weekends, so I can work on the business. It’s not been an ideal balance, but we’ve done what we can to make it work, and my products are now stocked in delis and independents across the UK.”
Fulfilling a dream
“I was at a career crossroads and knew I wanted to start my own business,” Dominique says looking back. “After much soul-searching, I realised I wanted to pursue my passion for food. My Thai auntie used to make these amazing sauces, and it all clicked – I knew I wanted to take those to market, so I started developing my own range.”
Getting from the first idea to the official launch took a lot of dedication and many late nights for the Leith-trained chef. An initial test selling the sauces at a local farmers’ market to see if the recipes would appeal, gave Dominique the positive feedback she needed. She decided to put all her efforts into the venture and spent the next seven months working to set up her business and develop the branding.
The launch was a great success. Within the first three months over 1800 bottles were sold by more than 30 stockists, and the sauces were featured in The Times, Metro, and included in Stylist magazine’s Style List. Shortly after, The Woolf’s Kitchen was chosen by Theo Paphitis as one of his Small Business Sunday winners on Twitter, and just four months into her journey, Dominique was nominated for Female Start-Up of the Year by Enterprise Nation, a support network for small businesses, where she reached the final.
But it was not all plain sailing. “It has been tough getting visibility with the products in-store when footfall is so low, and people are spending less time browsing,” says Dominique, who offered a point of sale flyers to shops and free bottles to sample with takeaway food to spread the word.
Finding the Premium Look
Not content with selling flavourful sauces, which she describes as “bold, punchy, and vibrant”, Dominique has recently expanded into the snacks category with a range of tasty nut mixes. Again, she found inspiration in her Thai roots. “The Thai love nuts; they use them in cooking and snack on them constantly. They’re a deep-rooted part of the culture, and my auntie used to make these amazing caramelised cashews, so it was a natural progression for me to extend into nuts,” she explains.
The packaging for the new Woolf Bites range reflects the big, bold flavours of the nuts with bright, vibrant colours and eye-catching designs. So far three new products – Sticky Cayenne Nut Mix, Crafty Cocoa Peanuts, and Smoky Beast Almonds & Peanuts – have been launched, in digitally-printed lay-flat pouches produced by flexible packaging specialist, ePac UK Silverstone.
For small to medium runs of multiple SKUs, digital print with its excellent colour reproduction, high quality, and low MOQs is the perfect solution for start-ups and entrepreneurs alike. Unlike traditional printing methods, it doesn’t require printing plates or long lead times, so new products can get to market quickly at the right price point. “As a small company, low MOQ is essential, and the fact we can amend the design on subsequent rounds is a huge bonus,” says Dominique.
To create the new pouches for Woolf Bites, ePac used a BOPP film material optimised specifically for digital printing and ideal for the packing of snacks and crisps. The film has been designed to keep moisture and oxygen from entering the pack and helps maintain product consistency, avoid spoilage and preserve the quality of the nuts.
Printed with high-definition photo-like graphics and perfect solid colours on ePac’s HP Indigo Digital Presses, the packs come with added shelf impact that is bound to grab the attention of snack-hungry consumers. “The product really stands out on the shelf. We are extremely happy that our design has been brought to life exactly how we wanted it. ePac really delivered for us,” comments Dominique.
Future ambition with smart packaging
The story doesn’t end here; Dominique has her sight set on introducing more products and using new innovation to make her packaging work even harder for her brand. One of the new initiatives will be leveraging the power of ePacConnect, the new smart packaging solution from ePac UK. “We are adding QR codes to our next round of packaging and I’m really excited about the possibility of added consumer engagement,” she explains.
ePacConnect allows brands to engage directly with consumers through the use of serialised QR codes. By cultivating more brand engagement, The Woolf’s Kitchen can expand its marketing strategy and increase sales through loyalty programmes, promotional campaigns, personalised content experiences, and even games!
The codes can also be used for a host of other purposes including verification of authenticity, track and trace, security alerts, and to collect data on market and supply chain activities.
“The versatility of digital printing continues to drive innovation in flexible packaging and offer a multitude of possibilities, so brands of any size can connect directly with the consumer,” comments Ryan Kiley, Director of Market Development at ePac Holdings. “The Woolf’s Kitchen is tapping into this potential, and it will be exciting to see where this will take them and our partnership.”
With both the sauces and the nuts about to launch in high-end department store chain Selfridges & Co, Dominique is well on her way to achieving her ambition, “My dream is to become a recognisable UK brand with distribution not just in the independents, but also in mainstream supermarkets. I envisage having a much wider range of products – it doesn’t stop at sauces and nuts. That’s just the beginning!” she concludes.
Would you like to have the same flexibility in your packaging choices? Call us today to learn more about how ePac UK can help you.