This week’s Focus Friday sees Cornude Popcorn take centre stage. A true start-up in every sense of the word, owner Ruth Ormiston has approached her artisan popcorn business with vim and vigour, and is as committed to convincing people that buying online is the way forward as much as showcasing her unbelievably delicious range of popcorn. Ruth sat down with us to chat about starting up a business, and why popcorn is the sweet and savoury snack of the moment. It’s worth noting that this is not normal popcorn people; it is popcorn on steroids. If marshmallows are the foodstuff to be seen with in 2013, we are firmly convinced that 2014 will be the year of the pop(corn).
Can you tell us about your food journey – how did you end up starting Cornude?
Cornude has been a longstanding dream of mine. Being a foodie from the age of dot I loved working with nature and growing food was an norm for me. As I moved into adulthood, traveling sparked a added interest in flavour combinations and from here a confidence for my passion was established. I returned to college as a mature (Oldie) to study in the Culinary arena in DIT. While here, I visited Chicago with my community band, which is where I saw a tremendous popcorn culture and lots of popcorn lovers with an amazing respect for the delights of popped corn. The flavours and combinations amazed me and being still at college I convinced my lecturers to back my popcorn interests, however corny, by putting me in the correct modules to help me understand starting a new food business. I worked on understanding the core aspects of producing such products without the use of man-made coatings/seasonings or preservatives and with the encouragement of my NPD lecturer, Anna Cruickshank, we worked on and brought some of these aspects into being.
Can you tell us a little about Cornude, and what makes your popcorn so special?
Cornude is a small, Dublin-based start-up. It hasn’t had it’s first birthday yet. It’s run by myself and supported mainly by family, friends and now some super-loyal customers. To date there are no employees outside myself. Cornude’s Popcorn is special. It is a product that is genuinely produced using traditional methods of creating flavours from real food. Man-made powdered seasonings and bought in caramels are a norm with commercial coated/flavoured popcorn which is available on the market but it is absolutely not what Cornude is about. If it says “Buttered Garlic & Herb” or “Maple & Pecan”you can be sure that I sourced and chopped that bulb of garlic myself or toasted and chopped those pecans with precision.
Who buys your popcorn and where can they buy it?
Cornude’s main shop is national and online: www.cornude.ie and delivery is in operation for the entire country. On a daily basis our courier Glen arrives and organises the distribution of our delicious, freshly prepared, pots of corn all over the country; fulfilling: party orders, entertaining needs, functions and to those who want that naughty-ish but natural treat.
We have also been providing Jars, Scoops and bulk produce for Brides & Grooms to be, making their wedding day a tad extra fabulous. Bulk orders have been organised by phone with corporate events being branded to suit. Cornude has exhibited at a few food fairs over the country, the latest being Galway Bake Fest last weekend where local people munched away on lovely goodies and had the oportunity to try our Artisan-Popcorn experience.
What tips would you give someone who wants to start their business?
Firstly, get ready to work your socks off.
Secondly, accept the kind help offered from friends and family, you will probably get a lot of knocks and bruises along the way that they can help you with, (if they start eating all the profits prepare porridge! will keep them full ’till lunch!)
Thirdly: don’t watch every penny, it’s too time consuming but do shop around for genuine, local suppliers who can resonate with your ethos and your start-up situation, they can become healthy business-friends alongside being acquaintances.
Fourth: Do lots of research on what your customers actually want, not what you think they want. Let your customers be your guide. Always ask for feedback and be generous in your interactions.
Fifth: believe in your product and your abilities, get gently confident and quickly alter the things that don’t work…ask for help when needed.
Lastly: Remember to Sleep!
What has been the best moment for Cornude so far?
The best moment for Cornude was Launching it’s wee brand in August. Seeing all that preparation up and running in one place with lots of feedback from the festival goers @The Taste of Donegal was rewarding to say the least.
What’s next for Cornude?
The next step for Cornude is employing a fab new member of staff. It’s been amazing working on the product myself but there are only so many hours in one day and with larger orders coming in hard and fast it’s time to embrace this little gift of growth.
Cornude Popcorn are running a fab competition over on their Facebook page at the moment; simply give your ultimate popcorn flavour, like and share their page to be in with a chance to win…