Charlotte Business Resources had the privilege of talking to the owners of Savory Moments about their latest success breaking into the mainstream grocery store market. With their new Carolina Blu product now available in over 200 Harris Teeter stores, they not only have a lot to celebrate, they also have much wisdom to share about what it takes to be successful.
Owned by sisters Jodi Wright and Heather Scovel, Savory Moments is a gourmet catering company, providing food that both looks and tastes wonderful. For more information about their business, services, and products, we encourage you to visit http://www.SavoryMomentsCatering.com.
Charlotte Business Resources (CBR): Tell us how (and when) you got started in the catering business.
Savory Moments (SM): Our catering business began when Jodi moved to Charlotte in August 2009. Heather had been in Food Service since she graduated from culinary school, and we wanted to open a business together, so it felt like a natural fit. Being sisters, we really wanted to try to see if we could make our business work – we know everything about each other, how different we are, and the assets that each of us bring to the table.
CBR: You’re certified as a Small Business Enterprise (SBE) with the City of Charlotte. What other certifications do you have (if any)?
CBR: As a woman-owned small business, how have procurement programs – like the SBE program – helped you?
SM: As a woman-owned small business, we have not been awarded contracts, but as a small business, we have been awarded government contracts, serving soldiers at National Guard locations, as well as a contract with the City during the Democratic National Convention, serving first responders.
CBR: What made you decide to expand into grocery retail?
SM: Since we opened in the fall of 2009, we have been packaging our products and selling them at farmers markets. We joined Got to Be NC and the NCSFA with the NC Department of Agriculture and took a class about producing and packaging food products in Ashville at AB Tech. We were able to then go to food shows to get our products in front of buyers that may be interested in our products.
CBR: Getting shelf space in a prominent grocery chain isn’t easy. What was the experience like?
SM: The difficult part was getting in front of the right people. In joining the state of North Carolina’s organizations, this put us in contact with the buyers more quickly than trying to make the correct contact on our own. Once we were in contact with the correct person, it was still a process to get on their schedule. Harris Teeter was very helpful in getting our product to market. We felt extremely fortunate with our experience working with them.
CBR: Obviously you figured out how to navigate the process of entering into grocery retail. Did you learn this on your own, or did you seek advice and counsel from others?
SM: We have stayed in contact with CPCC Small Business Center and SBTDC since our inception. They have been a big part of our success. We are on a first name basis with most of the people in the organizations.
CBR: If you received help from others, how important was it to you to have access to that help?
SM: Through the meetings with NC Specialty Food Association, we became aware of classes that were available to help us with getting the UPC code, getting the product tested, looking at different packaging ideas, and just taking a different perspective on the product. We have also learned a lot from other vendors that are trying to get their products in stores, listening to what has worked for them and what they would do differently; they provide a lot of invaluable information – some members have even had their products on QVC. One great thing is going into grocery stores, and we know the person that made the product and the story behind how the product came about.
CBR: What’s next for Savory Moments?
SM: With Food Service, there are so many different aspects of the business. We want to remain open-minded and see what we are cued to do. We would like to own a kitchen instead of renting. We would like to have this on the horizon in the next year. We would like to expand our catering business and increase our product line in the grocery stores. We are at an exciting time in our business, and we will continue to work and see where our next endeavor may lead.
CBR: What advice would you give other small businesses that are seeking opportunities to open new markets and grow their business?
SM: As so many people say – it seems like the harder we work the more opportunities there are opening up for us. Business is a risk; it has been great that there are two of us. When one of us has doubts or just becomes frustrated, the other one is there to calm the storm and keep us focused and moving forward.
To learn more about Savory Moments, visit www.SavoryMomentsCatering.com.