So I have finally gotten around to utilizing my blog, and I thought I would start with something real and honest. I like to be honest when it comes to my businesses and share the highs and lows, I’d say this story is somewhere in the middle. I’m sat writing this after spending an evening sat of the floor of the warehouse, hand inspecting rock sweets one by one, I love my products, but it wasn’t for fun. Trust me, anything but.
First though, a bit of a back story. I started my business making small alcoholic lollipops in my home kitchen. I started in September 2015, and in my first Christmas period I sold tens of thousands. No staff, just me, one pan, one burner, endless hours and A LOT of coffee.
The next year I knew something had to give and so we introduced alcoholic humbugs jars that didn’t have to be made to order. They were a HUGE success and we sold 30,000 jars in the lead up to Christmas in 2016. The alcoholic humbugs worked perfectly first time, I carefully applied all I had learnt from trying to force alcohol into a product that liquid is the enemy of. Winner!
For valentines 2017, we introduced our alcoholic rock sweets. Again they were a huge success. I spent a long time picking out and sourcing faceted jars (the correct name for the jars Bonne Maman use for their jams – I finally got there after a lot of Googling), getting cute swing tags designed, chosing the perfect twine and deciding on colour combos.
They ended up looking really cute, tasting delicious and selling well – what’s not to love?
Well turns out a rock sweet is not a boozy humbug or an alcoholic lollipop! Who knew? Yes, they are both made out of sugar (and in our case, booze). That’s seems to be where the similarities end.
Rock sweets are more brittle. Brittle sweets and a glass jar makes for splintered sweets. It doesn’t matter that the jars are super cute, they are still gonna smash my poor little sweeties to pieces (or more accurately Royal Mail, who seem to handle their post with the care of a drunk toddler)
Rock sweets are also open ended. If you look at our humbugs they have a pinched appearance and you cannot see the white interior. On a rock sweet you can, the whole idea is to see the middle and the sweet little heart. This means more exposure of the slightly softer middle (white rock is made by pulling to create air bubbles to make the sugar opaque – hard work thank you very much) to the elements. Including heat, and moisture, and all the things that sugar hates, including other sugar products (self loathing sweets!), and so the sweets hug each other (i.e. stick together). Our sweets are special, they have lashings of booze in which means they have more moisture than usual in the white centres, we didn’t stand a chance as soon as someone left their jar in the sun, or somewhere super humid.
To top it all off, my very cute and twee tags were taking a million years (maybe a slight exaggeration) to tie on. You have to cut all the twine, string the tag, tie it round three times and then make a bow that is even. Yes, it’s very clear now that this might have been a design flaw, time equals money after all, but I was blinded by how twee they would look. It was Valentine’s season after all, love was in the air. Even more frustratingly the jars were getting harder to source for a reasonable price.
So this bring me back to my evening of inspecting rock sweets (this 25 year old knows how to kick off a weekend). After some consideration and research we have decided to re brand our rock sweets. We are having pouch like packaging designed (less breakage) and will be wrapping the sweets individually (less sticking) and ditching the swing tags (less time consuming). The tasty products will be exactly the same, but the new packaging will lead to a more consistent and perfect product every time.
Sometimes you get things slightly wrong, and I think it is best to admit it. Whilst the problems were small, and 99% of the time they arrived in perfect condition, 99% is just not good enough for me.
I know a lot of you, just like me, will miss our jars of rock sweets, we get so many compliments on how they look and I would love to keep them as they are, but the sweet gods will not let it be.
We do have a small amount of stock left (all hand inspected by yours truly), with a shelf life until August 2018 which we will be selling off to make room for the new packets. So if you were looking to buy them as they are for Christmas, a friend, wedding or event, you still can. We will be holding a sale with 25% off on Wednesday 9th August at 8pm. Join our mailing list or the Facebook event to be reminded. It will be strictly first come, first served. No reservations, no pre sale, so do set your alarms!
So this isn’t goodbye rock sweets, this is see you later. We’ll see you again soon in your brand new outfit.
I’d like to thank you for teaching me a valuable lesson, not every product we dream up will be absolutely perfect, but we can get there.
I’ll see you at the sale!