Back to School with The Apple Cart
It's hard for the two of us summer-loving ladies to believe it, but this season is fading into the sunset and making room for the apple cider donuts, crockpots of chili and woolen ponchos of fall.
Barb and I are parents first and foremost, and the summer means carving out extra time to spend with our kids, from family vacations to never-ending pool days. But that doesn't mean we've been too busy working on our tan to TCB. Here's a quick look at what we've been working on this summer, plus a peek at what's to come this fall and winter!
THERE'S A NEW PEANUT IN TOWN
Peanuts are a quintessentially Virginia thing, and Whitley's Peanut Factory has been hand-cooking theirs for 31 years. After attending our Appleseed Workshop Series, Marketing Director Victoria Revell sought our services to help this family-owned business open their third retail location, opening this October in Innsbrook.
We were treated to a factory tour and a crash course in what makes Whitley's so special (high quality, large Virginia peanuts; hand-made confections; and a staff of dedicated, long-term employees who appreciate the value of hard work). Since signing on with Whitley's this summer, we've taken over their Instagram account, grabbed the reigns on PR for the company, and consulted on ways to introduce Whitley's to the Richmond market. This fall, look out for collaborations with local businesses like The Savory Grain, Gelati Celesti and King of Pops; and keep an eye out for Whit, Whitley's charming peanut man mascot!
THREE CHEERS FOR CAVALIER
We've been working with Cavalier Produce for over a year now, which means it's time for another Cavalier Produce Pig Pickin' and Oyster Shuckin'! This annual private event at Cavalier's Louisa distribution facility is a family-friendly day of fun and food in which Cavalier can say 'thank you' to the people that make their business such a success.
This year, BBQ Exchange is roasting a whole Autumn Olive Farms hog, and Rappahannock River Oysters will be shucking bivalves on the half-shell. Plus, we've brought together ten of Cavalier's vendors, giving them a chance to share their stories and products with a captive audience of chefs and restaurateurs. This year, we'll welcome Twenty Paces, Caromont Farm, J.Q. Dickinson Salt Works, Ames' Hot Southern Honey, Obis One Black Garlic and others in the vendor tent. This is our second year of coordinating this event for Cavalier, and we're looking forward to spending the day with this awesome group of people!
Also over the summer, Cavalier began the process of launching Cavalier Homegrown, a program that allows chefs to automatically opt for locally-sourced produce rather than conventional produce simply by signing a pledge. Cavalier Produce has improved the back-end of their website to make this transition simple and straightforward for chefs who have expressed a ton of interest in this option. Working with over 50 farms and producers, Cavalier is growing their local presence and is still actively seeking farms and chefs to participate in the Cavalier Homegrown program.
TAKING ACTION WITH VEGAN ACTION
When Krissi Vandenberg, Executive Director of Vegan Action, reached out to us to help organize an event focused on vegan awareness, we were excited by the possibilities. If you've followed the fervor around Mean Bird's vegan fried chicken or witnessed the unbridled enthusiasm for Go Go Vegan Go or the new vegan milkshakes at Boulevard Burger & Brews, you know that RVA Vegans are HUNGRY for great options. Now, we're deep in the planning stages of a weekend-long event called Vegan72, scheduled for January, 2018. This will be a great way for chefs to challenge their creativity and engage with a new audience, plus proceeds will benefit FeedMore, which is something we can all feel good about!
Speaking of Mean Bird, we were thrilled for Mike and Sarah Moore to open their West Main Street location (dangerously close to our office) earlier this summer. We helped Mike and Sarah create a PR plan and launch plan, including a very fun media preview lunch wherein we all ate ourselves into food comas. How this couple managed to juggle a newborn (and a toddler, let us not forget) and press interviews all while preparing to open the doors on their brick & mortar space is as baffling as it is inspiring to us!
We also took on Vegtabowl Foods as a client this summer, and we've been working with owner Ebony Johnson to come up with a new logo, packaging design and website for this brand, which specializes in frozen vegan and vegetarian comfort foods. We also hosted a social media training session for Vegtabowls' VCU interns, who brought a ton of enthusiasm and insight to the conversation. Over the fall and winter, we'll work with Ebony to get her brand PR-ready and will help her prepare for the onslaught of online sales that her improved website will be able to accommodate.
WE'RE TURNING THREE
In September of 2014, we gathered a gaggle of our friends, supporters and colleagues at Ardent Craft Ales and officially launched The Apple Cart. Since then, we've worked with dozens of clients, hosted a handful of workshops and have found a forever home at our shared office space, The Woodlot. Later this month, we'll host our third birthday party at The Woodlot, with fried chicken sliders and other bites from Mean Bird, a confetti cake from Whisk, and just enough revelry to celebrate three awesome years of helping people start and grow food businesses. (Want to join us? Comment on this post, and we'll add you to the guest list!)
We also continued our work with Fire, Flour & Fork (because FFF work is a year-round affair), Whisk (and began working with their baker, Earl Vallery, as he embarks on his next journey in Charlottesville), and Birdie's Pimento Cheese (look for a lovely new logo soon), and we completed our project with Timbercreek Market (who opened their restaurant, Back 40, this week!).
Thank you to everyone who has made the past three years and especially this past summer so special! We couldn't do it without you!