Monday, December 5, 2011

interview made in australia - carman's museli

There is a trend with this interview series. When I send out a request for interview from some brands there is no response from, others immediate with a view for a future date so they can consider answers and offer insight. The resulting  interviews are insightful with people generous with time and experience and have changed the way I look at our Fiona Kate brand. 

Mud - own stores sooner  so they could represent their products they way they see them
Hanks Jam - commercial application before development. 
Castle - patience during the process

This interview was a little tricky to get organised but the wait was well worth it. I spoke with carolyn from Carman's  a hugely successful Australian brand. Carolyn shared some great insights that made me feel energised about Fiona Kate and I am sure she will inspire you also. 

Why did you decide on Australian made?
We began using Australian products. Our brand stands for depth and integrity. A huge part of that integrity is that all of our ingredients are Australian made, and all of our manufacturing is Australian owned including the packaging.

Did you look into manufacturing overseas also?

Your brand has always been very approachable. Can you explain the importance of relationships both with your customers and suppliers?

We listen to what our customers need and look to supply that need. We know what we are good at and what our end customers expect. Just get your foot through the door for the larger stores and go from there. Listen to what they need rather than what they want. See if you can fulfil that need. If not work out a way you can and come back in 6 months ... a year. Don't be afraid to approach larger companies. The worst they can say is no.

We do not wine and dine and see customers after hours, a work life balance is part of our brand too. Deliver to their needs, great service & preparation.

Our suppliers know we have an uncompromising commitment to quality and have always worked with us to supply products that are good for you and taste good too.

Have you had a product that you have loved not do as well as you hoped?
We have learned that changing our product to suit the customer does not work. for example adding pineapple because a buyer thinks it will work. We can change packs and packaging not the integral product and contents. Part of this is open communications with our customers.

Qantas needed a savoury snack for the PM flights and came to Carmen's. At that stage we did not have anything savoury so I said we would keep an eye out for something suitable. We now partner with another company supplying a chick pea product for the PM flights.

In the beginning was it just you? or did you start out with a team? 
For 10 years it was just me with fantastic suppliers. It was all about sales. I knew it was all about sales. The aim was to grow each year by 25% and each year I surpassed that aim with sales growth of 100%.

Did you have a business plan that you followed?
Nothing written down as such other than to grow by 25% each year.

What would you do differently if you built a business again?
After the first 10 years initially I hired senior people thinking the skills in marketing and business was lacking from my own skills. To do it again I would hire junior people to follow through on all the ideas and goals I had. The passion, belief and direction were there, I just needed more hands to get it done.

Favourite Australian brand? 
Red Balloon
Kikki K