• The big new thing this week was starting work on a new brand creation project with an agency I haven’t worked before – so double “first day at school” vibes. It’s an interesting challenge in an interesting category that I’ve worked in before. Last time I was working on a sweets brand it was all about creating something for a teenage audience; this time it’s about doing something healthier and more ethical in a category that doesn’t have much of a reputation for either.

  • Honest Umami continues its developments. Although I’ve written before about our aspirations to start a factory, we’ve grudgingly admitted to ourselves that this probably isn’t the best course of action. It’s too capital-intensive and carries too much risk; blending and packing dry ingredients is a solved problem that many commoditised suppliers can do cheaply and at scale.

    And so we’ve found a good blender and a good co-packer, and are progressing with the technical side of getting them on board. That means we’ll be able to do production runs of tens of thousands of pots at the drop of a hat. Less fun from a nerdy perspective; more fun from a growth one.

  • We’ve had some luck with getting some earned coverage from interesting foodie influencers. This week the excellent @lagomchef posted a recipe featuring our Salt & Pepper product, and it gave us a welcome boost to our sales.

  • One of the key questions at the stage we’re at is: what works to create sales, and how can we do more of that stuff? Is the flurry of sales that came after that influencer post a meaningful uptick, or just something we might expect on a normal day?

    We’re not doing so many things that it’s impossible to discern the cause of any sales boosts. But it is nevertheless easy to find yourself confused about whether a 10% or 20% increase in sales is meaningful, or just a natural variation.

    I wrote last year about how to tell the difference between routine variation and exceptional variation, and how the answer was to take techniques from statistical process control and, in particular, the process control chart or “XmR” chart. I’ve been using XmR charts with Honest Umami and am finding them extremely useful in moderating my own expectations. I’ve been using Cedric Chin’s XmRit tool to generate them, and it’s super easy – I’d highly recommend it.

  • I also changed the domain for this website from orso.london to orso.so. I’ve owned the latter since I started Orso, but was spooked by the idea that apparently some companies block .so domains (since it’s technically the country TLD for Somalia). But I decided to take a risk; if it’s good enough for Notion, it’ll probably work for me, and it sure is nice and short.