Well, it's been about 44 hours since my little brand made an important milestone.....
July saw the 1st anniversary of C Si Bon being available in stores. In the past 12 months I have been busy trying to get C Si Bon into as many mouths as possible. Tastings are the best way to let people know what you do. Until they taste it there will always be scepticism, especially in the frozen food category. For so long major companies have promised the idea of edible frozen meals but have never delivered. Things are changing, thank goodness and I am adamant that consumers know the difference between good and bad. Every time a customer of mine walks out of a shop with one of my meals in their hands it's such a huge win - for small business, for healthy eating, for hard working people like you and me, making the right choices.
C Si Bon is now available in 24 stores, online and in about 8 school canteens. I was so stoked to reach that milestone and then Wednesday came along. I entered the C Si Bon Citron & Coconut Cheesecake and the C Si Bon Choc Fudge Hazelnut Fudge Tart with strawberry coulis into the RASWA Premium Produce Awards under the Frozen Dairy Dessert Category. This is an annual event run by the Perth Royal Dairy Show and there are hundreds of entries in different categories - milk, cream, cheese, ice-cream, gelato, chocolates - YUM!
Wednesday night was pretty stormy if you remember. I had been cooking all day in my kitchen and ran to do school pick up. My three year old was dragged to the shops to get the ingredients together to make the 8 year olds birthday cake whiles she was at hip hop. The phone rang, the 3 year old had an accident in her pants, it was time to pick up from hip hop, homework was completed, baths and dinner were done. I then got myself ready, my husband arrived home, it was time for me to go and then the 3 year old started having a tantrum. She didn't want me to go. I felt like a failure. I got in my car with tears streaming down my face thinking, "What am I doing? Why am I doing this? I should be at home tonight looking after my baby."
I was the last to arrive at the awards night, everyone was seated for dinner. I found my table and introduced myself to everyone and sat down. Unaware of what the proceedings were I asked Gary sitting next to me who works for Harvey Fresh. He said that only Category Winners would be announced tonight. I was so resolved to not winning that I asked for a glass of champagne to settle in and watch how this all went down. I had a lovely group of people on the table and we chatted about our respective businesses. Yard 86 Milk & Cream were there as well as the girls from Majors Group and representatives from Perth Royal Show. The food was great and the awards got under way.
"Frozen Dairy Dessert" category flashed up on the screen. I took a breath and C Si Bon was announced as the category winner! I was so excited. I've never won anything in my life! (Oh sorry, no, the state under 16 squash championships - wow). I practically ran to receive my blue ribbon and glass statue. I WON!!! I ACTUALLY WON!!!
I sat down at the table and everyone congratulated me. It was such a fantastic feeling. As soon as the ceremony was over I ran and called my mum and burst into tears. As you all know she has been my main backer in this business, financially and emotionally. I was clearly very emotional. I was very emotional because this means so much.
It means sacrifice, hardship, marriage strain, emotional tug of war between kids and work, guilt, daily grind, sweating over a hot stove (literally), money strains, accounting bullshit, being in 5 different places at one time, late nights, early mornings, dealing with difficult customers, being told that you would never succeed, being judged, working in a kitchen with no windows and walking out after 8 hours feeling like you've done 8 rounds with a cage fighter, doubts, niggling insecurities.
I was also emotional because I had an idea and I saw it through and got rewarded by industry peers for it. The outpouring of love and support once I'd posted it on Facebook blew me away. So to counteract all of the negatives the emotion was there because I love what I do, I'm passionate about my cooking, my food, my brand, my business, the people that work for me, my family, my suppliers, my awesome customers, my friends, the amazing fresh produce I get to work with, the ever changing nature of a natural product being crafted into something delicious, the fun, the creativity, and especially my kids.
I got home and my husband was awake. He actually looked excited about the win! Major step forward. We cracked open a bottle of wine and celebrated together. We talked about how exciting it will be going forward and what this means to us. I can actually call C Si Bon an Award Winning brand! He also reminded me of something. When we got married he made a speech. In it he said that one of the most beautiful things he thought about me was "that I was a really good cook". Yeah, I remember. I will never forget.
C Si Bon is the 2016 Category winner for the Frozen Dairy Dessert section at the RASWA Premium Produce Awards - BOOYAH!!!