BrunchCon Interview Series: Marketing a Business to Foodies

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As embracing the journey of entrepreneurship gains appeal for millions of Americans and sitting sedentary in an office grows tiresome, starting a new business has become the answer. Food and beverage businesses are finding great successes with helpful sites like Yelp and Angie’s List connecting connoisseurs of the consumption market and offering a fast-track to huge publicity. Still, there’s always room for expansion, and meeting customers organically face-to-face (and offering samples!) is an engaging way to attract and keep new fans.

Marketing plans that have gotten a tad stagnant by following the usual track of fliers, social media posts and email blasts can switch it up by trying out something new: participating in an event specifically tailored to reach passionate foodies. Home Business Magazine attended BrunchCon on August 14 at the Reef in Los Angeles, and spoke with blossoming businesses about their launch stories and marketing plans.

DK’s Donuts

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DK’ Donuts, a family-owned business, has been delivering to the Westside community fresh donuts, pastries, and sandwiches since 1980. Founder Lee & Kong passed on the company to Sean and Mayly, their son and daughter, and the company currently has 1,396 Yelp reviews.

HBM: What brought DK’s Donuts out to BrunchCon?

Mayly: “DK’s Donuts and Bakery is a family-owned business. My parents started it 35 years ago and I took it over three years ago. I do believe that nowadays brunch is a really important part of everyone’s day and weekend. That is definitely surrounding donuts – especially ours. Ours are handmade, gourmet donuts. There’s snickers, and fruity pebbles, and bacon, and everything that screams breakfast and lunch. Because we’re open 24 hours it really makes every meal great. That’s why we’re here at BrunchCon.”

HBM: Where are you guys located?

Mayly: “DK’s Donuts and Bakery is located at 1614 Santa Monica Blvd in Santa Monica, CA.”

HBM: Have you participated in any other big food or catering events?

Mayly: “We’ve done so many big events. We’ve done Cookie Con. We’ve done donut parties. We’ve done huge orders, like 1500 croissant donuts for offices. We’ve done Hulu and Netflix. We have really great relations all over and people love our donuts.”

HBM: What future marketing initiatives do you have planned?

Mayly: “My plan is to create the most ridiculous donuts that you will just have to come over and try some.”

Poppy + Rose

4038773Poppy + Rose is a casual cafe serving breakfast, lunch & brunch is known for its chicken & waffles. Husband and wife duo Ryan and Diana Lamon partnered with Michael Reed to launch the “nostalgic country kitchen” that serves classic American dinners.

Diana: “This is our first time at BrunchCon. Our restaurant Poppy + Rose is pretty famous for brunch. This is exactly the right crowd for us.”

HBM: How did the restaurant launch?

Diana: “Originally, my husband and I had a food truck and our business partner Michael had a catering company. We wanted to do something together and we happened to stumble upon this little tiny restaurant space in the middle of the flower district in Downtown. Gut instinct was that we needed to go with this space! We ended up opening the restaurant about a little over two years ago. It’s basically a marriage of our love for good ingredients and classic comfort fare.”

HBM: Do you any future marketing plans in the works?

Diana: “We usually do events all throughout the year. We also do a lot of social media marketing, giveaways and things like that. Now that we’ve grown to two food trucks, our food trucks are also marketing for us as well to just drive around all over town.”

Green Grotto Juice Bar

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Green Grotto Juice Bar is an organic fresh-pressed juice and smoothie shop that offers a pleasant and rejuvenating mix of health, wellness and entertainment for its patrons. Founder Kieran Roberts’ shop inspires customers to indulge in a well-rounded balance of a healthy yet enjoyable lifestyle, and Communications Director Chad Roberts shares the story behind the tasty beverages.

HBM: How did you come to launch your Green Grotto Juice Bar?

Chad: “My oldest brother—Kieran Roberts—he’s been a mixologist for the past fifteen years. He came up with the idea of mixing healthy cocktails. We wanted to make juice, and that’s how he approached me about it. I do all the branding and corporate sponsorships. I was in school at NYU for grad school for it, and we kind of collaborated on the business. Now Green Grotto Juice Bar—we adopted its name from Green Grotto Caves in Jamaica, because our mother is from Jamaica. So everything we do is sort of like an ode to her. At our shop we have games, board games, TV’s, a lounge area…That’s to get back to roots of the lively culture that Jamaica offers. That’s why a lot of our flavors are tropical. We have some leafy juices, but for the most part you’ll get the pear, the papaya, the mango with kale. Or the blueberry, watermelon, and mango.”

HBM: What brought you here to BrunchCon?

Chad: “Obviously everyone loves brunch. You want to detox to retox. And then detox again after you’re boozy. It goes hand in hand in our minds. Also, our detox drink is filling. You can also have your eggs with your beets with your juice. It all works together.”

HBM: Do you have any future initiatives on the pipeline?

Chad: “We make sure that Green Grotto gives back to the community. We’re partners with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. We’ve raised quite a large sum of money since March. We’re trying to organize a community event to present them that check. Kieran, my brother, he’s spoken to foster children about eating healthy and how to get access to healthy foods. We’ve honored and celebrated foster mothers who’ve taken in children. We do that at UCLA. We’re always trying to market ourselves that way and kind of just give back to the community. For us it’s not about counting calories. It’s about a healthy lifestyle. Whichever community that we serve, we want to make sure we’re conveying that message to them.”

Soul Sweet

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Sakeenah, a Southern California native, is the founder of Soul Sweet. A passion for playing in the kitchen lead to the creation of her delectable and artfully-designed sweets.

HBM: How did you come to launch Soul Sweet ?

Sakeenah: “Right before I had my daughter. I know you always here the stories about how I grew up with a mom or grandma who baked, but I just thought it was only right for me to bake. It’s funny how I got into it. I just started cooking simple things for my husband to take to work, so I wouldn’t eat it if was left in the house. And then people at work started saying, “Hey! Does she have a business? Why doesn’t she start a business?” So then I said, “Why don’t I start a business?” Now that I have my daughter—she’ll be two next month—I thought, “This is perfect!” I’m at home with her (I took a little break when I had her) and I figured why not continue on and do it?”

HBM: What brought you out here to BrunchCon?

Sakeenah: “This is our first time at BrunchCon and everyone loves to brunch! I feel like it’s a big deal, especially in L.A. You always hear about foodies going around and drinking and eating. I thought, “Let me join in. Why pass up this opportunity.”

HBM: Do you plan on marketing at future events?

Sakeenah: “I feel like I need to stay in tune with L.A. events. Downtown L.A. is up-and-coming. There are a lot of exclusive events going on that I don’t know about. In L.A. period. Continuing to stay in the know about all of the upcoming food events because we have a lot of foodies in L.A. and keep pushing out more food for people to eat!”

Magic Bullet Hangover Eraser

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A health-conscious couple sought to develop the perfect nutritious drink to counteract the effects of alcohol. With the Magic Bullet, lovers of the bottle can indulge in libations without the anxiety of an impending hangover.

HBM: What inspired you to launch your hangover cure?

Founder: “My wife and I love to lead very healthy lives, but we love to have a good time. We don’t want to miss out on the fun. We had to figure out a way to reconcile both, so we studied for years to try and figure out how to find a natural, nutritional way to flush toxins out of your body from drinking. That’s what we came up with. We developed it over the last two years into a nutritional beverage. We knew there was a way to come up with a nutritional drink that would offset the bad side of drinking and all of the toxins.”

HBM: What brought you here to BrunchCon?

Founder: “We were actually invited! One of the organizers found us online and said they had the perfect audience for us. We’re very young—we launched about two months ago in San Diego and this is our first foray into L.A. We thought this would be a good venue, and a good way to get a lot of people exposed to our product.”

HBM: Do you primarily sell your product online?

Founder: “Yes, but we are starting deals with night clubs and bars, liquor stores, and we’re also talking to Sprouts and Whole Foods.”

HBM: What are your future marketing plans?

Founder: “It’s really more of the same. It’s a guerrilla marketing approach. It’s making sure people are getting exposed to it. If we keep getting reactions like this it’s just going to go straight up!”

Check back for next year’s BrunchCon to reignite your business’ marketing plans and expand your customer reach to thousands of L.A. foodies and lovers of brunch. HBM