Connecting prospective customers with local artisans was the goal of Good n’ Local, a wholesale food show for Greater Cincinnati area food and beverage startups. On Monday, that goal became a reality.
Newport-based Incubator Kitchen, an entrepreneurship incubator in Northern Kentucky, put on the event. Hosted by MadTree Brewing in Oakley, 36 vendors set up booths, each offering free samples, informational fliers and a unique founding story.
“Good n’ Local, really for me, is this idea that it’s connecting local buyers to local makers,” Incubator Kitchen founder Rachel DesRochers told LINK nky in February. “We have so many small, artisan producers across the region in the food space.”
One such business was Indigo Food & Beverage Company, which makes soda and snacks. Their sodas are made from water kefir grains, which are gelatinous probiotic “blobs” derived from cactus. The grains are used to ferment probiotic drinks similar to kombucha.
Coincidentally, kombucha is what Indigo founder Matthew Garrett started brewing a little over 20 years ago.
While living in Michigan, Garrett’s wife helped him discover his love for brewing kombucha. She, too, was a brewer, so he began helping her out. Over time, his zeal for brewing the drink outpaced hers. As his skills improved, restaurants began selling his homebrewed kombucha. He eventually decided to give up the hobby as it began to compete with his full-time job.
Six years ago, Garrett rediscovered his love for brewing fermented health drinks. He founded Indigo, then expanded his offerings to include vegan, refined-sugar-free treats. Garrett explained how Good n’ Local helped his business reach new local buyers.
“It’s just opening me up to more buyers. This has been great,” Garrett said. “Even if it’s somebody it’s not that’s a local person because I sell to the public and retail, so nice to be able to have this opportunity for exposure.”
Sarah Thompson has a similar story. Four years ago, she co-founded Honey Child Artisan Pops, a small business that makes hand-crafted popsicles free of cane sugar, dairy and gluten. Instead, their popsicles use sugar alternatives like honey and maple syrup.
“Part of why we started our business was to help build and grow healthier communities,” Thompson said about Good n’ Local. “Anytime there’s an opportunity to come together, meet with people face-to-face, and talk about how to build healthier communities is great.”
Recently it was announced her business was being granted a $4,710 rent subsidy grant through the City of Covington’s Small Business Program. The money will go toward helping Honey Child Artisan Pops pay rent at their upcoming storefront located at 1204 Scott Blvd. in Covington.
Besides vendor booths, Good n’ Local hosted panels featuring speakers from larger regional companies such as Graeter’s and MadTree. The panelists spoke on the trials and tribulations of founding, scaling and distributing products within the highly competitive food and beverage market.
“There’s not really a formal food education program here in the region,” DesRochers previously told LINK nky. “Putting some education panels into the project that we’re going to build for Good n’ Local I think will just help start building that component for us.”
For many businesses in attendance, the goal is to get shelf space in an established big box retailer like Kroger, Whole Foods and Walmart. Others want to continue growing their dedicated customer bases. But no matter the business motivation, the common theme that binds each of the founders together is the bravery to be creative.
The post Local entrepreneurs gain industry exposure at first Good n’ Local food show appeared first on LINK nky.
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