The Spirited Artisan

Inspired Collaborative Brand Partnerships

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Artisan Food-Maker Incubator – Left Coast

On my recent visit to San Francisco I had the pleasure of checking out KitchenTown which is a food-maker incubator kitchen in San Mateo, California. Focused upon engaging, equipping, and educating the food-maker who is ready to grow their business from a cottage food business to a more official entity, KitchenTown offers full service state of the art kitchen space for rent plus educational seminars and mentorships surrounding operations, launching and scaling the artisan food business.

You know how to craft a beautiful gluten-free pie with locally sourced ingredients but to grow, you need to know how to brand yourself, craft your mission statement, copyright your recipes, obtain legal advice and insurance, obtain your food permits, how to source ingredients more efficiently, identify your primary goals for your business … all this and more must be learned along the way so that you become an expert in not only your product, but all issues surrounding launching your particular product and category into targeted retail venues.


KitchenTown is also a great place to have business meetings, or simply get some work done in its creative and productive environment. This is a true incubator facility where food-makers can learn to launch their brands and scale production to meet growing demands from new retail customers. Scaling production is a key learning curve as the food-maker makes small adjustments and course corrections necessary to maintain the integrity of their product as well as their bottom line. At this stage of development self-distribution is the best and most affordable way to get to the hang of filling direct orders, meeting store receivers, as well as getting to know store buyers and particulars of their program, their merchandising challenges and opportunities in the brand’s category.


At my visit, above are among the food-makers who have launched from here, or currently producing from the KitchenTown facility. You may recognize some of these growing brands. Some will remain locally focused, while other will expand nationally.

When I visited, KitchenTown was hosting a workshop – part of a series of business modules for food makers created by Oakland, California based Food Craft Institute, which are held throughout the bay area for aspiring and current food artisans digging into their entrepreneurial roles.

Artisan food-makers have abundant support and resources as the consumer demand for unique, locally grown and cultivated artisan foods continues to expand.

Exciting Times!

Stacey C.



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Know Who You Is: What is Your True Brand Story?

A former colleague of mine used to say to me, “You have to know who you is and know who you ain’t.” He was a sought after gallery owner who received a lot of artist inquiries. To stay focused upon his own program – he would simply ‘know who he is’ and create his gallery partnerships accordingly.  Trying to tell too many stories at once is confusing.

Every curator tells a story. Every person you meet is curating their own story in some way. Every brand that has any traction in the marketplace – also tells a great story. You can feel it from the label to the romance copy, and to whatever magic happens when your customer decides to put your item into their basket.

A strong brand story will resonate immediately – it will have that certain something that gives your product an edge amidst the abundance of products merchandised around you on that coveted retail shelf space. As a brand creator, what story are you telling? How are you connecting in a meaningful way  with your target consumer?  Is your story and product authentic inside and out? And these days — What does it mean to be an authentic brand anyway? How do you tell the most authentic story for your brand so that the consumer can know you, become one of your biggest fans and make your brand part of their story?

As you are fine-tuning who you are in the market-place, eg: more than a granola, a cookie, a beverage – stay true to your big “Why” which can be as simple as highest quality ingredients to the more challenging health claims that are becoming more common for artisan food brands. Are you offering something new to the conversation surrounding this food category and if so, what is that?

As an artisan brand consultant, I am able to roll up my sleeves and get into creation mode with you as to your brand’s story. I will have determined that I love what you’re up to. I will also see some awesome potential and catch the vision for what you’re creating. Sometimes my input will simply clarify what you want and don’t want to express -> Who you believe yourself to be, and who you know you’re not. Ideally, your product is already fueled by your passion and vision, and you perhaps you just need some focus.

A brand can often fill only one solid niche, and great if you can hit at least three key attributes that your customer is seeking … Vegan? Pegan? Paleo? Low Carb? Gluten Free? Low Sugar? Grain Free? Organic? Fair Trade? Grass Fed? None of the above? It’s all going on in the food maker community. Be careful here. I have seen brands load their labels up with every conceivable attribute seeking to be all things to all people. This tactic will bury your brand – especially if it is merchandised in a ‘sea of the latest gourmet popcorn brands,’ for example. You’ll want to know your key identifiers and focus there with your messaging.

Simplify. Connect. Express. And of course have a delicious product!

Be All that You Claim to Be

You cannot be all things to all people. You have to know who you is and who you ain’t!   … ‘Cuz if you don’t, the consumer will know you ain’t who you say you is!

Honest Food for Thought!


Contact me if you need some help – and Stay Awesome!

Stacey Cavin