When the Covid lockdown of 2020 hit, my kombucha habit and weekly bill skyrocketed as I found myself working from home for the long haul. I’d found my favorite flavor — GT’s Original, in case you’re wondering — and it was easily accessible and available at the grocery two blocks from my house. I couldn’t get enough.
Looking for new hobbies like basically everyone else at the time, my girlfriend and I started to make our own batches of kombucha. To meet my own consumption needs, our production increased to about five gallons per week — for just the two of us. I’d owned a juicer for years (that admittedly was starting to collect dust in my closet), and I read somewhere that freshly-juiced fruits are ideal for flavoring kombucha tea. We were off the races experimenting with strawberries, blackberries, apples, pineapples, you name it. If it could go through a juicer, we would try it.
Fast forward a few months, and our friends started asking if they could buy a few bottles. We thought our hobby could turn into a fun little side hustle. What began as dropping off a few bottles to three or four friends a week turned into Kultured Kombucha, selling bi-weekly batches of 150-200 bottles, and our names on a commercial kitchen rental. I realized we needed to do whatever we could to cut time and manual tasks from our work. I also knew I couldn’t keep living in manual spreadsheets and that we needed to look and feel more professional in order to acquire new customers. I met the Castiron team and heard they were building a product to help food artisans manage inventory, sales and marketing. I was intrigued and got on the product as fast as possible. It profoundly changed where I was spending my time — hint: less on the manual order tracking and more on finding new customers and perfecting my product.
I’m an Excel junkie and had a crazy file with 30 or 40 tabs of information about my business, including one that I used for tracking any detail I could about every customer. I tried to keep the name, cell phone number and address fields updated, and any other details (like email, Instagram handle, delivery notes and past order details) were an added bonus.
It was a mess trying to make sure I updated the sheet every time a new customer purchased and referencing back to it when I needed details on each. Life is a lot easier with Castiron compiling all of my customer data in one simple place where I can access open orders, past order data, and easily reach out to customers who haven’t ordered in a while.
My “marketing and sales efforts” — if you can call them that — were archaic at best. Every week I created a Google Slide listing my flavors and pricing. I’d take a picture of the slide and manually text it to everyone in my customer list, post to Instagram and Facebook and receive orders via DM and text. Then I’d have to translate those orders to spreadsheets! It was a lot to keep up with. Today, all I do is post a link to my menu and customers are able to add products to their carts and check out without having to wait around on me to confirm their orders or send payment instructions.
I no longer worry about running out of certain products or missing orders that come through text or DM because Castiron updates my inventory automatically so I don’t oversell my products! It’s become my system of truth for all of the sales and revenue I’m bringing in.
Did I already Venmo request them? Did they Venmo me enough? Hm, did they give me cash in person? Did they Venmo my personal or business account? Did I miss anyone?
I’m positive there were times where I double charged folks or never got paid at all. Trying to manage money coming into multiple Venmo accounts, as well as cash payments, and managing my bottle return refund program was so painful before Castiron. I had to manually input each payment into a spreadsheet and create my own formulas to determine my revenue and profit numbers.
Now I can log into Castiron and immediately see my sales for the week and I’m paid out every day for the sales I made the day prior. I cash out the full amount that I charge my customers, and Castiron takes a nominal fee. They have a standard payment processing fee and even help collect sales tax if needed, which is passed on to the customer!
I knew that Kultured Kombucha needed to “grow up” in 2021, but I wasn’t a website developer and had limited time and energy to put into building my own online presence. After a 30-minute meeting with the Castiron team, I connected my bank account, published my online store and was immediately able to spend more time focusing on my product and marketing than the administrative tasks of creating menus, collecting payments and tracking my customer data.