Today we’re chatting with Serafina Palandech of Hip Chick Farms. Serafina’s company makes a line of extremely high quality organic chicken products, like nuggets and tenders, and was founded 4 and half years ago in an effort to provide healthy food to people and children on a mass scale.
From being on a reality show to selling out of inventory on QVC, her company has had amazing success and is growing like crazy.
On the show today, we discuss:
- How being on QVC works and what effect it has on your business
- What core marketing areas you should focus on to grow a cult like following
- How to use data to know when a packaging redesign might be in order
And a lot more – Let’s go hang with Serafina!
Serafina’s no stranger to sustainable food systems. Her and her wife/business partner, Jen, actually live on a farm because of the strong appreciation they both have regarding where food comes from. Which is why they initially decided to make a product for busy families, like their own, who also hold their food to a higher standard.
Jen started her career as a chef at Chez Panisse, a pioneer restaurant in the farm-to-table movement. After that, she worked as a personal chef to Ann and Gordon Getty. During her time with the Getty’s, they ran a Montessori school from their home. So, Jen was preparing lunches for all of the kids. A favorite among them: her chicken nuggets.
It was then that Serafina and Jen realized there wasn’t exactly a frozen chicken nugget option out there that they would be happy feeding their own daughter.
And so, enter Hip Chick Farms. A line of chef-inspired, artisan, frozen chicken and poultry products, that are transparently sourced, accessible, and affordable.
Though Serafina had no background in starting a CPG business, she did work for a nonprofit. Which, from an entrepreneurial standpoint, helped her. Working in nonprofit, she was accustomed to trying to accomplish miracles with little to no budget. And her lack of experience in the food industry was definitely made up for by her willingness to ask for help.
Serafina called to her resources in the industry for some advice, and got to work. She had a vision from the start that did not waiver, and that was to go very large scale. She didn’t want to launch in Farmer’s Markets, she wanted to launch in Whole Foods. And, she was going to make organic frozen chicken, available to people everywhere, and, at an affordable price
But, creating this type of product, on this scale, is tricky. It’s incredibly artisanal. And, one of Serafina’s primary focuses was transparent sourcing. So, Serafina says they had to be very careful about the farmers they worked with.
They also needed to create more demand for organic poultry. Which they did. And because of which, now you can buy Hip Chick Farms at Kroger stores, Wal-Mart, and even on QVC.
Selling on QVC always sparks some interest. Probably because it’s an entirely different type of sales environment than most of us are used to. The typical demographic is 62-year-old women, who are very price sensitive. The QVC shopper also isn’t necessarily expected to have a very exciting palate. But still, Hip Chick Farms see sell out after sell out on the home shopping network.
When selling a product on QVC, you need a host to sell your product. You can either chose to be the host, or hire one. Serafina didn’t want to be the face of the company on QVC, so she chose to hire a host with a history selling on QVC. She says, “As the founder of a company, it’s important to know that maybe in a different sales environment, someone can sell this product better than me.”
Hosts who have sold on QVC before know which key words affect the shoppers. And, the shoppers are familiar with these hosts.
An important takeaway from QVC: the customer feedback. Serafina explains that, in general, they do not really receive negative feedback from customers buying their products in stores. So, the negative feedback they receive from the very different QVC customer is actually very helpful.
QVC has also been a very helpful tool in building the brand name.
Marketing & Packaging
Serafina and Jen’s family is very deep rooted in the Hip Chick Farms’ brand. It’s their family story that really resonates with people. That, paired with how the products are made, and where they are sourced from, is what helps Hip Chick Farms gain (and keep) its cult like following.
Their marketing strategy is as transparent as their sourcing. They like to give customers a look at who they are, and they like to have a lot of fun with it.
Another thing that sets Hip Chick Farms apart: the packaging. But not without a lot of trial and error. Obviously, packaging is a key factor in the success of a CPG product.
Serafina explains that looking at the data regarding your packaging is so important. And then changing accordingly. Hip Chick Farms was first packaged in buckets, which were great and buyers loved them. But, from a merchandising standpoint, the buckets did not perform well.
So, they went back to the drawing board. And, after switching to boxes, their sell through increased an insane amount, in just one day.
Serafina says they’re actually in the process of repackaging again, because they still don’t think the packaging is putting their product first, or calling out the major attributes she would like it to be. So, we’ll see. But, what’s important here is that she’s utilizing data as a decision-making tool.
We obviously couldn’t end this interview without asking Serafina what we ask all our entrepreneurs. How do you get it all done, what’s your productivity hack? To which she answered: 30 minutes of meditation in the morning.
Serafina says that she gets much more done when she takes those 30 minutes in the morning for herself, to rest, then she does on the days she doesn’t meditate.
Hip Chick Farms is bringing shoppers to the frozen section who wouldn’t typically venture down there. And their doing this with a great product, great brand, and great story. So, to find out more, check out www.hipchickfarms.com.