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Mouth, the first online grocery that is entirely dedicated to indie food. Small batch, locally produced, indie food businesses are one of the biggest US-born trends of the recent years. And then we bumped on Craig Kanarick: a digital technology expert, designer and artist with a predilection for pickles and pop-culture inspired treats.
By the way, Craig happens to be the founder of Mouth: America’s first indie food online grocery. We catched up with him to know more about his adventure and to discover what makes an independent food business successful.
Could you describe a typical day at the Mouth?
We open the Mouth and immediately begin tasting and eating and snacking until we pass out then find our way to the subway home. Okay, not really. The office gets buzzing early. The warehouse people are busy picking orders, wrapping them and shipping everything out by day's end. The product managers and buyers are busy researching new products, coordinating with makers and keeping up with inventory. Others are busy tasting and writing reviews of new products, interviewing our indie makers or working on marketing e-blasts. We're often setting up for a photo shoot of new products and then fighting over who gets to eat the leftovers. On Fridays, we hold tastings where a group of us and often a lucky guest (chef, press, friend, etc.) sit around and taste the products that have come in that week – stuff we've found ourselves or goodies that people are pitching. (Usually we need big bags of carrots and celery to offset the resulting sugar high.) And we're always listening to loud music – indie of course.
The website for Mouth is structured in a very interesting way - what did you have in mind while you where building the website?
We wanted to create the absolute best online indie food store. Our core team comes with a long history of brand-making, and we knew that for us to stand out, we needed to be bold. We strive to be clear in who we are, and to offer a clean, easy, informative, fun and mouthwatering experience! As you can see, the primary visual showing each product is typically not a package shot – we want to recreate the feeling of being at a physical market, opening a jar, getting a look what's inside. And also a friendly, conversational tone that comes with chatting with the food maker or a friend. We're very much about discovery. And we also try to not take ourselves and the pursuit of indie deliciousness too seriously – this should all be joyful and entertaining.
What kind of foods do people tend to buy online the most?
It's been validating to see how much our customer is willing to try, based on our online photos and reviews. We're first and foremost eaters and editors. Our customers know that for a product to make it into Mouth, we must think it's really, really, really worth tasting. So – customers buy everything! Snacks are big – distinctive popcorns, caramels, pretzel chips, but so are indie upgrades of everyday items - better ketchup, better mustard, better vinegar, a better candy bar. Peanut butter is one of our biggest sellers, and we've got all sorts of blends and ground-breaking flavors. And our pre-curated gift collections and subscriptions really fly off the shelf - everything from a "Bring Home The Bacon" taster to Pickles Every Month subscription to a "Cookie Monster" taster.
What is the most special thing about your suppliers?
The passion and skill they bring to their craft. Most have very interesting life stories with at least one thing in common – a giant leap of faith. How big can an indie food business get? This is a movement. We've hit a nerve – people are changing the way they approach eating. Discovering, learning about, obsessing over indie food is becoming a new source of entertainment. So we believe we're on the forefront of something big. Very big. Have you ever thought of stocking products that come from outside the US? Our mission is to feed the hunger of indie food lovers and to support indie food makers. These people are everywhere! But our focus right now is domestic products for a mostly domestic audience, because North America has plenty of awesome makers and eager eaters to keep us busy for a while. But we have a tendency to think big! So who knows what's to come!? A food that you couldn't live without? Pickles. Evangelia Koutsovoulou