Leaping, hiring, and launching The Friday List.

If you’ve been following my entrepreneurial journey online, or through your support in being a client, customer, friend, or guinea pig for potential products to take on, thank you. You know there’s been a few challenges and lessons, and some really fun and rewarding achievements.

In 2016 I am just shy of triple the sales I had in 2015. I might even hit it.

It’s slightly skewed by only selling for 8 months in 2015, with only three of those months independently. In 2016, my first full year, I’ve created nearly $300,000 so far in sales. This was for existing BC craft products introduced to new markets, new product launches, revived sales for existing products that benefited from new representation in their markets, and at targeted events. All of this, and there are still clients I can do so much more for.

I’ve been working in the local food community for more than a decade, with coffee roasters, makers, producers and other small businesses, while raving about it all online and in print. I’ve created an audience over 6,000 strong online that magically seem interested in what I discover and write about. It’s been fantastic to bring that all together and create an income for myself while supporting local producers.

This winter, I’m launching The Friday List. It’s a brand beyond my personal name, with lofty goals and plans for 2017 and beyond. We bring you provisions to celebrate.

I started with a focus on selling craft beer and BC wine, in 2017 we’ll add more ciders, and non-alcoholic products. My commitment to 1% for the Planet will carry into The Friday List, and clients we work with will increasingly have their environmental and social initiatives highlighted in the stories we tell.

To do all of this, I’ve learned, isn’t impossible. But it does require help. My friends and family have contributed labour for beer and food, and my partner Rich has built most of my event gear and office furniture while surrendering space in our home and lives to my growing business.

So Jay Nowak is joining the crew, and together we are working to launch The Friday List this winter.

Many of you in Victoria will know Jay as the friendly face who took care of you at The Garrick’s Head Pub for nearly fifteen years. As the man who worked tirelessly to support his team through a renovation there, and then open The Churchill next door, all the while remembering your name, drink, and what you might like to eat. For the last couple of years you may have known him as your Fernie Brewing rep here on Vancouver Island. Delivering kegs in his Jeep and helping other breweries (me) fix foamy lines minutes before thirsty crowds descended upon HOPoxia or the Great Canadian Beer Festival. Have you been to Victoria Beer Week’s March events, or Stein & Dine in the fall? That’s Jay too, he’s a founding member and Director at VBW.

I know Jay as the Pub Manager who took the time to listen to my pitch to sell him coffee. He was honest in his needs and priorities, attentive in our meeting, offered to feed me lunch, and later when it was decided what I was pitching wasn’t a good fit, he let me know so I wouldn’t be wondering and following up for no reason. I later worked with him to help out with social media at Victoria Beer Week, and became a huge fan when he helped me at my first beer festival.

This is the type of service and sales approach I work to give each customer, and I know that I can trust my growing business, and my clients’ products in his hands.

I don’t always get everything right, but I do work hard to fix anything that comes up as quickly as possible. Jay joining the team will free me up to spend more time with customers, and lead our strategy for The Friday List. Jay will provide service and sales support (and Dad jokes) to restaurants and retailers primarily in Greater Victoria. You can reach him at 1 250 588 0442 and jay@thefridaylist.ca. We’re making a list and checking it twice, so we’ll be in touch directly with each of you that are customers that Jay’s going to support soon. If you are placing orders, you can send them as usual directly to myself, or to celebrate@thefridaylist.ca.

One of the biggest gaps we see is how traditional sales agency and food distributor models aren’t consumer friendly, and the opportunities to create if we were.

It’s hard to explain an industry model to someone at a festival or why you may have a cider and beer not from the same producer. So we’re going to work to build The Friday List as a brand in BC that helps people discover great local food and drinks, and brings people into stores and restaurants asking for the products we sell. We’ll broaden the writing and photography side of what I’ve been doing, to build an audience that trusts us to find them family owned producers with environmental and social initiatives.

This is the kind of consumer I am, and the kind of business I’m building. Inspired by the pioneers in this space like Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, Patagonia, Clif Bar, Level Ground Trading and so many more. Supported by friendships and business conversations with newer brands I met in their earliest days like Earnest Ice Cream, Cartems Donuts, Big Wheel Burger, Tree Island Yogurt and others.

The Social Venture Institute conference I attended this year at Hollyhock on Cortes island brought me overwhelming support and connection in a community of entrepreneurs using their businesses to drive positive change. My commitment to 1% for the Planet is just a start. 

With a great roster of clients who themselves inspire and challenge me, a new team, focused brand and eager audience, we will work to give small producers a valued voice in a crowded market. Focused on delivering sales, and creating loyalty.

So please join me in welcoming (I’ll take the big giant gulp, you can just say hello) Jay Nowak, and launching The Friday List.

We’ll have the website up soon, and more details coming in January. But first I’ll be taking a much needed first real vacation (since this all started) with most of that time offline. After this busy couple of holiday weeks we have left in December, you’ll see Jay and I out on the road introducing new clients like Daydreamer Wines, and working hard to create loyalty in our customers, clients, and fans.

But since it’s the middle of December and you have a million other things on your mind that are not about my new company or Jay’s long history in craft beer, we’ll remind you about all of this again. So on with your holiday rejoicing or hair pulling, whatever today has brought you. Hopefully not too much of the pulling.

Thank you, yes you who read this all the way to the bottom in the middle of December, aren’t you a gem.