LIFE BEFORE & DURING COVID: Scrumptious by Lucy

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Life before Covid was very different for Scrumptious by Lucy, prior to COVID, I did not have a digital presence, all my business revolved around the face to face sales at food festivals and street food markets,, but when Covid arrived on 23rd March 2020, that effectively stopped my business in its tracks. I had no customers and tough decisions to make, and this is where my journey into the digital world started, I have learned so much with the changes and it has completely transformed my business in every way imaginable.

My homemade online brownies shop is based in Sheffield, and pre-Covid we would regularly attend local food markets in the Sheffield area, such as Sharrowvale, the Sheffield City Centre, Netheredge, etc We would also travel a further afield into neighboring counties, and attend many of the larger food markets such as Malton, near York and many in Derbyshire..

I just absolutely loved the buzz of a market, it was really good meeting so many people, and the thing I enjoyed most was listening to people talk about my brownies and cakes and meeting repeat customers who had bought my chocolate brownies in the past and wanted them as a brownie gift for a loved one or relative. 

The days leading up to a market were frantic with little sleep and lots of baking and organizing, making sure we had everything, from packing our brownies gift boxes, making sure we had enough gift wrapping, ensuring all the gluten-free brownies were completely separate from the Vegan brownies and they had their own knives, spatulas, as well as an endless supply of kitchen rolls, paper bags, napkins and a hundred and one other items which if you forgot just one, you can guarantee you would absolutely regret all day.

Arriving at the market was always around 7 or 8 o’clock, sometimes after traveling a couple of hours, and all you wanted was a quick coffee fix, so the coffee flask was always the last thing into the car, and the first thing out. 

So, after a flask of coffee, it was down to the main event, setting up the stall and the Gazebo! and for anyone who has been camping, when it is raining or windy, you will know the stress and antics involved in trying to set up a 3 square meter gazebo, which is actually more like a kite, and many a time I have been like Mary Poppins hanging on for my life thinking I will soon be airborne! 

In March 2020, Covid came along, and with market restrictions, I had to think about how I could adapt Scrumptious by Lucy so that my customers could still enjoy Scrumptious treats and I could still run a business. I am very proud of the stall aesthetics, it was so important to me for my stall to really show how beautiful the cakes and brownies were and for my cakes to look as amazing as they taste and deliver the Scrumptious by Lucy experience as a whole.

For me there was only one option, and that was to create a website and a postal delivery service. I first looked at how could I send brownies by post, how would I package them so they arrived in the same condition as they came out of the oven, I spent weeks sending them off to various manufacturers and suppliers with different dimensions and ideas until eventually I found the perfect brownies gift box which looked pretty, but could stand the rigours of Postman Pat and his black and white cat Jess sitting on them, and the good thing with experimenting with all the sizes and sending out test boxes of brownies to friends and relatives around the country, I had created a brownies gift boxes which could be delivered through the letterbox, so if the recipient was out, this wasn’t a problem, and the letterbox brownies arrived in the same condition they were sent.

The next and biggest issue with setting up an online digital presence on a limited budget was not only building a website, which a relative has helped out with, but also getting people out there to know I exist? And this involved the dark arts of SEO, in other words how people find me when they wanted to buy some brownies, all the big firms have huge marketing budgets and the latest technology, so for me this was and still is my biggest struggle, but eventually was born.?  

I also heavily relied upon Social media, such as Instagram and Facebook and have built up quite a good following at as well as I regularly let my customers know what is happening, new flavours and generally update each day.

So, now I have a really good online presence, my business is growing, I have regular wholesale orders, some excellent corporate clients, as well as a reliable fast brownies delivery service with a national courier so I can get my brownies delivered anywhere in the UK, and can accept online payments. 

Now with Covid restrictions easing and my online business growing, I have also attended a number of food festivals and markets, I so love attending street markets and food festivals meeting my lovely customers, but also dealing with online customers, so in effect, I now have the best of both worlds.