Pia Maffei is set to soon open a specialty food store in Temecula that will feature products from local artisans. Because of donations she received through a website, the 44-year-old woman will be able to share the stories behind these artisans with her shoppers.
After 25 years in the technology business, Maffei decided to open Artisan’s Palate, a retail gourmet food market in Temecula. To promote her store and obtain financing, Maffei utilized Kickstarter, an online funding platform for creative projects.
With two days remaining in her 30-day campaign, Maffei had exceeded her $4,000 goal. As of Thursday, 52 backers had pledged a total of $4,540 to help Maffei purchase half a dozen tablets running a custom Artisan's Palate app so customers can read the stories behind the food providers featured at her store.
“The Kickstarter tool – and crowdfunding in general – is an amazing tool!” said Maffei, who has lived in Temecula since 2001.
Since launching in 2009, more than 3 million people have pledged more than $500 million for more than 35,000 creative projects through the site.
Although Maffei was familiar with Kickstarter and other funding platforms prior to her campaign, it was her first time utilizing the tool. She encouraged other entrepreneurs to take advantage of the site, but understand that it takes a lot of effort to have a successful campaign.
“You really have to be prepared that this is your life for 30 days,” she said. “It’s a simple concept at the beginning, but very complicated and involved when you dive into it and drill down and start to realize all the things you have to do.”
Maffei recommended interested Kickstarter users to develop a marketing strategy before launching a campaign so they can reach potential backers and future customers in the local community, social media network and Internet crowdfunding community.
“As long as you touch those three and you have a strategy on how you can touch those three, then I think you’re on your way to not just meeting your goal, but having a successful business,” said Maffei, who received pledges from $5 to $1,000.
Maffei also advised potential users not to expect Kickstarter staff to edit project pages. Applicants are responsible for creating their project pages, shooting their videos and deciding what rewards to offer backers. Creators should spend weeks building their project pages, said Maffei, whose application and video was approved two hours after it was submitted on Feb. 1.
Lastly, Maffei suggested Kickstarter users concentrate on raising funds for a project, not funding their whole business.
“You can’t just have a campaign because you want to start a business,” Maffei said. “It’s like, ‘Well get in line, you and a million other people.’ You have to have a story and you have to have a project.”
Maffei decided to raise funds for tablets and a customized app because it combines her love of food and technology. The app will feature artisan stories, product ingredients and other fun facts about her suppliers and their products. She said this will provide a personal connection between the shopper and the artisans.
Maffei was inspired to open Artisan’s Palate and share the stories of the artisans featured in her store after she met a woman while on a business trip to New York in November. Maffei was attending a trade show when she met a New Jersey woman who “lost everything” in Hurricane Sandy. The woman was attending a nearby food show to promote and sell her homemade cakes, and instead of being negative about her situation, Maffei said she was “optimistic.”
Maffei told her, “One day, very soon, I’m going to open a shop and it’s going to tell people’s stories like yours. People need to hear your stories.”
Maffei plans to sell the woman’s cakes in her store.
Currently negotiating a lease for an empty storefront in Temecula's Hobby Lobby Creative Center, Maffei has already lined up more than 100 suppliers, most within a 100-mile radius of Temecula.
“I think being part of the community is understanding there’s these amazing artisans that are doing the things they love to do and we have an opportunity to support their dreams,” Maffei said.
To support Maffei and Artisan’s Palate on Kickstarter, click here.