In our brand spotlight, we feature Abound brands who are ready for retail. This week we sat down with Cathy Kleros, owner of Southbury Baking Company. Southbury Baking Company sells Wine Savories (artisan cheese crackers), is based in Oxford, Connecticut, and has been in business for five years.
Robin: Why did you decide to start Southbury Baking Company?
Cathy: I have been baking since I was 4 years old, so it was only natural I’d start a baking business as my second career. They say do what you love and I absolutely do! My pre-family career was in packaging graphics and business development, so I am able to utilize those skills as well in this business.
R: Was your family a motivator from transitioning from packaging graphics into your own business?
C: My family has always been supportive of my endeavors. It was actually my husband who pushed me to create the Wine Savories, sitting out on our deck having wine. He’s my biggest supporter and has been with me every step of the way despite having his own career. I’m very fortunate to have my husband and son always there to lend a hand, listen to ideas, and give critical feedback. It’s truly a family affair!
R: How did you make your first prototype? What changes have you made to your product since then?
C: We created the Wine Savories crackers because we were looking for something unique and delicious to enjoy while having wine – which we love! We couldn’t find anything on the market, so we began playing with flavor combinations.
There were many, many taste tests to get our flavors just right, to the delight of our family and friends! The shape of the crackers is what went through the most changes. We tried square, rectangle, crinkle cut and round before deciding the triangle was the winner. We love the unique shape and it’s the perfect two-bite nibble.
R: Why did triangle win out as the best cracker shape?
C: We selected the triangle shape for a few reasons. First and foremost because it was different than anything we had seen on the market. Our packaging has a window and we felt it would be really eye catching for customers to see that unique shape.
The second reason was that it was big enough to showcase all the cheese, fresh herbs and nuts we have in the crackers so that our customers could see the quality that goes into them. The third reason is that the shape was just more fun to eat. It is the perfect two-bite nibble.
Our testing showed that round shapes made people more inclined to pop the whole thing in their mouth at once and the triangle made people more inclined to take two bites and really savor the flavors.
R: How do you make your product? What’s your process like?
C: We make, pack, and ship all our products right in our boutique commercial bakery. Our team makes and forms the dough, hand cuts it, and then it’s off to the ovens. We use only the purest nuts, herbs and cheeses in our crackers.
R: How do you source your ingredients?
C: We always use the freshest ingredients that are non-GMO and have no chemical additives. We also try to use local products whenever possible. Our crackers don’t have that many ingredients so we are able to do a lot of testing from different companies to find the perfect blends.
R: Where was the first place you sold your product?
C: We first started in local wineries that had gift shops, which was such a great fit.
R: Where do you sell your product now?
C: We sell to many gourmet food and gift stores, olive oil stores, boutiques, and of course wineries!
R: What’s your marketing like? Is social media an important part of your business? If so, how?
C: Social media plays a large part in marketing our business. We found that traditional advertising doesn’t have the reach social media does and doesn’t necessarily target our market. We have found success in using the power of social media in cultivating new collaborations and increasing business.
R: What are your social media strategies? Which platforms have you found work best for you?
C: We have found Instagram to be the most effective social media tool, though we are on Facebook as well. Our strategies have been designed to show our products in their beautiful packaging, but also out of the packaging in different stages of production.
People love to see products out of their packaging and being utilized. We also always say where our products are being delivered to. We love building that relationship with the stores that carry our products and like to showcase them as well. Exposure for all is a great thing!
R: Is there any business advice or quotes you’ve heard that you think about often?
C: I have a sign in my shop that reads, ‘If you don’t build your dream, someone will hire you to build theirs.’ I look at that sign every day and am grateful for the opportunities I have had to build my dream and am so happy I forged ahead and never looked back!
I would say to those thinking about starting their own businesses to not let fear hold them back. Fear keeps you in place. Courage keeps you moving forward!
R: What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?
C: My favorite thing about being a business owner has been being able to design and grow my business into what I envisioned. I am able to give back to the community and local charities that are meaningful to me. I employ people that want to learn and grow with us. I get to do what I love. I get to bake all day – what’s better than that!?