Taking a pause on Liège Vafels

Vafels Communiqué 12.2021

 

Dear Vafels Family,

Vafels has experience tremendous organic growth between April 2018 and now.

And, with growth comes challenges, big and small. Vafels now finds itself in a moment of opportunity. Here’s the story.

Background

Vafels has been bootstrapped from the beginning. I quit my job in March 2018 and launched Vafels with two of my best friends in parallel with Project Supertraining, the nonprofit dedicated to philanthropy in sport. People called me crazy and wished me luck. I told myself there was no choice but to give it one hell of a shot.

“What does success mean to you?”… one friend asked. I remember that as I embarked on this adventure.

I operationalized “success” fairly loosely because I didn’t really have an expectation, but it sounded something like this: a successful Vafels looks like a vegan-friendly product that people come back for, a product that customers share with their friends, that is fairly priced, that is purchased directly from our website and one that is offered at retail locations.

By the above definition, I believe Vafels has been successful. That said, between 2018 and 2021, I’ve better defined Vafels with a mission statement and broadened its vision.

Vafels is committed to offering the highest quality plant-based foods made with ethically conscious and environmentally sustainable ingredients to fuel the human body.

Vafels has demand and we’re doing a modestly good job keeping up. So, Vafels has increased demand, why “take a pause?” What gives?

What happened? Analogy Alert.

Imagine you’re making food for a party every Monday night where your guests are paying a $30 cover. In 2018, you’ve got your expected guest list and you go to the local corner store for your ingredients and you’re good to go. 2019 rolls around and you find yourself going to the suopermarket because you’re paying too much for your ingredients and you find more people will come if you can reduce the cover cost from $30 to $20 by passing on the discounted rates of food to your customers. 

You rent a kitchen space so you can make and store more soup and you’re managing with the new fixed costs. The customers you were hoping for do come and then you find places to buy bulk ingredients and drop the cover from $20 to $14 but now it’s 2020 and COVID-19 gives you all sorts of supply chain hoops to jump through and your guest list is getting big and you’re not sleeping much anymore just trying to put food on the table by 6pm Monday so everyone can eat. Long sentence.

Time to start looking for a bigger kitchen, again.

You find that kitchen and rewire it with appropriate electrical power to accommodate your needs but you’re still working all day, 7 days a week and if you could make 18 batches of soup at a time, that’d be a heck of a lot better…but you can’t because the “bulk soup maker machine” costs too much and your space is too small to install it. Now your growing guest list might get hungry if they don’t have more than just soup. What about stew as an option? Maybe, but it’d have to be high quality, organic stew to match your soup.

To satisfy the demand you take action on two items. First, you work on a stew recipe and find a stew specialist to produce this for you to compliment your soup offerings. Then, you buy more pots for the soup and that kind of works, but you only have 6 burners, still cornering you into small batch production - you’re kind of in the same mess you were in back in 2020 with these smaller batches. 

Plus, now that you have more soup and this new stew, you have to store all your soup & stew so it doesn’t spoil prior to Monday night dinner. You can only make 6 batches each day with those burners and soup spoils after 2 days. So, you’re juggling ingredients & supply chain early in the week for Friday arrival so you can make 6 batches on Saturday, 6 on Sunday and 6 on Monday afternoon to get your 18 batches done in time. The stew doesn’t need much prepping other than heating and you’re able to get everything on the table by 6pm Monday. Whew. You’ve certainly got your process dialed in, but you’re just keeping up, working 7 days a week.

Now, it’s December 2021 and your new kitchen tells you that you have to leave by the end of the month. Ooof. 

That’s a bit of a wrench. What’s a dinner party without your special soup? Fortunately, we have a steady shipment of stew…but is it a stew party? It’s supposed to be both…and people originally came for the soup.

This is Vafels, where Liège Vafels are the soup and Stroopvafels are the stew. The only difference is that Liège Vafels are a lot better than soup and have some particularities in their production methods.

Next Steps:

Vafels has booked a moving truck rented for December 27 and we don’t know where it’s going yet, but this is what’s happening: Vafels will pause production on Liège Vafels beginning December 20th until further notice.

I’m telling you about all of this because the Vafels family is pretty small. A lot of folks think Vafels is far bigger than it is. I want you to know so that you have an opportunity to order Liège Vafels before we take this pause. Liège Vafels will be back; I simply can’t promise the date.

I’m going to spend the time I’d normally spend making dough, Vafels and fulfilling orders to solve our production issue. This is really a blessing in disguise because it forces Vafels to focus on solutions so that we can continue to deliver the best products to our customers.

In this moment:

Vafels is not going out of business. 

Vafels is managing its growth. 

Vafels will not comprise. 

Vafels will live by its mission. 

Vafels will continue to offer its Organic Stroopvafels.

Vafels would not be here without your continued support.


I understand this may answer some questions and inspire others. 

Please direct them to me: will@vafels.com

I may not get back to you right away, but I’ll do my best.


Will