In March of 2009, Greenpoint resident Anna Wolf, with no business plan in mind, made her first batch of whole grain beer mustard, and the word she used to describe it on her Web site was yuck. She had just left a soul-sucking job she could no longer stand and was experimenting with mustard merely for her own pleasure, or so she thought. Fast-forward a few months to when Wolf started making mustard she actually dug using her own recipes rather than ones she found online.
As it turns out, she was not alone in her appreciation for this esoteric whole grain condiment. She brought it to her local watering hole where she soaked up a host of compliments, one so big that it turned into a suggestion and then a full-fledged proposition for Wolf to take her newly acquired skills seriously and throw herself head first into the illustrious world of mustard making. With a little help from said friend, Wolf had her next non soul-sucking mission: My Friend’s Mustard, a whole grain beer mustard making business.
By late spring/early summer 2009, Wolf began the research process—what kind of food license she would need, who would do her opening inspection, etc. By January 2010, she applied to start an LLC and got the ball rolling with paperwork. And in late August, My Friend’s Mustard officially got off the ground. The day after the MFM launch party, Wolf made her first deliveries to six stores.
Making mustard is currently Wolf’s full-time job but she isn’t actually making any money from it yet (emphasis on the yet). If it weren’t for her silent partner, mustard making would probably not be a reality for Wolf, but the money (put up by her partner) is for the business only—to buy equipment, inventory and supplies; and to rent out a space for production and storage. The space Wolf rents out is a closet-sized kitchen inside of Palace Café, an old-timey bar on Nassau Avenue and Russell Street. But as her business has begun to rapidly expand, Wolf has had no choice but to consider larger kitchen spaces. “The Palace has been awesome. They were really important to getting me started but I’m running out of [room] there and need my own space,” Wolf said.
If Wolf featured an FAQ on her Web site, you can bet it would include the question, “When can fans expect more mustard flavors?” When she was first testing batches, Wolf started out with six kinds of mustards, and of those, chose the two that were friend, family and friends of friends approved. “As far as the recipes go, I picked the two most popular and the ones I was happiest with and went with them. I just scaled them up to large-batch size and started producing those,” Wolf said. After perfecting these two staple mustards, Wolf is now ready for round two. Next up, a rye mustard made with Sixpoint Righteous Ale, caraway and maybe dried currants. Soon following are a stout mustard made with the Sixpoint Otis stout, and hopefully by summer, a honey mustard made with Sixpoint Sweet Action.
Much like Wolf is her own mustard creator and manufacturer, she is also her own publicity team—and packaging and delivery team, as well. Aside from the slew of positive press—MFM was profiled on Brooklyn Based and Nona Brooklyn, which led to interested customers seeking Wolf out rather than the other way around, Wolf still hit the pavement DIY style. In fact, she spent an entire day going around dropping off sample jars of mustards with price lists at about fifty places—restaurants, specialty shops, gourmet stores. “It was an epic day of humbling cold calls. It was a tough day, but people [almost] always took the samples,” Wolf said. She got a lot of bites from that, “not even close to fifty,” but enough to get things in motion; from there, word continued to spread on its own.
Next on Wolf’s agenda is a recipe contest for MFM lovers inspired by the cooking suggestions Wolf’s friends have been sending her. The contest will call for MFM fans to submit their favorite recipes using MFM’s mustard, and end with a cook-off of the top five or ten recipes. “People are always telling me about all these different things [they make] and . . . I’m like, sweet, I didn’t even think of that! I just made the mustard,” Wolf said. The winner, you can probably guess, would get “I don’t know, lots of mustard!” Wolf is not sure of the exact timeline or details of the contest, but keep your eyes peeled for more information on the My Friend’s Mustard Web site and Facebook page. Also on her site—myfriendsmustard.com—you can find out where to buy MFM products.
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