Growing a business with stories, with Jenni Weaver

1 Dec, 2020 | Podcast, Season 4

Welcome to episode 57 of The Whin Big Podcast where Katie meets Jenni Weaver, co-owner of Yorkshire based deli Origin Fine Foods. They talk about growing a social media following from nothing and how the team at the deli use stories to connect with their customers. Jenni also talks us through the pivots and shifts she’s made in the past year in her marketing strategies, and offers within the business.

Jenni attributes some of her recent success to the business coaching and programmes she’s joined since Covid. She talks us through her favourite ones and why they’ve helped her move forward in such a positive way during challenging times.

Today’s episode is sponsored by our Instagram MOT. This 20-point checklist will take you through all the most important things you need to get right in your Instagram marketing. Click below to sign up for the free training and download the checklist.

One full year of trading before Covid-19

Origin Fine Foods had one full year of business before Covid struck. In her first year, Jenni found the freedom to make her own decisions a real pleasure, but focused on prioritising her ideas as they came to her so she could avoid overwhelm. By December 2019 the pair focussed efforts and energies on the eating-in side of the business, instead of focussing on hampers. They opened for Bistro Evenings and other dining-in experiences for customers and had lots of great feedback. 

Managing the Covid pivot

Like every other business in the UK, Jenni and her business partner changed tack when the first wave of restrictions kicked in. The Yorkshire based food deli gave way to selling – and delivering – everyday household goods and essential items to the local residents. 

“Our community was in need. You couldn’t get any delivery slots from the bigger supermarkets, so we filled that gap.” – Jenni

Now the big rush around shopping for essential items has died down, there’s a renewed interest in the artisan products they’re selling in the deli and with the new alcohol license in place, there is a lot to plan going into the festive season and beyond. 

The stories that run through the business

Unexpectedly, Jenni’s favourite part of being a business owner is the stories behind the brands they stock. Jenni points out how disconnected shoppers are from the brands on sale in big supermarkets. As a Yorkshire deli, supplying Yorkshire based products, the team make it a priority to visit suppliers and build personal relationships with them. 

“We’ve even met the cows that made our ice cream. That makes people smile when we mention it. We’re all about provenance. It’s important to get people to stop and think about what people are putting on their plates and in their mouths.” – Jenni

Finding a balance for social media marketing

While they were finding their feet, the team took inspiration on social media marketing from similar businesses, promoting products and sharing information on the business.

2020 has seen them move toward making deeper connections, by sharing more stories. Stories about the background of the business, the real stories of Jenni and Abi and the stories behind the suppliers. Their following has grown as a result. 

“I always think the long copy posts are going to be scrolled past by people because it’s not the norm in our industry. But they’re the ones that get most interest” – Jenni

Social media platforms Jenni uses

When they first opened, Jenni snapped up the account name on Instagram but didn’t take any steps to market on that platform. Instead, they used Facebook, and have been regularly posting there since they opened.

They’ve now embraced Instagram and as a result, their following has snowballed.

“Instagram is good because you can reach out to that audience using your hashtags and all your organic content in a way that just doesn’t work on Facebook anymore. So there’s an opportunity to grow your audience in a different way.” – Katie

Feelings of optimism for the future

At the beginning of the pandemic, Origin Fine Foods took £4.70 for a whole day’s takings. She posted on Instagram “£4.70 worth of sales today. 2 lattes. 2 tearful owners”.

She knew then that something had to change if the business was to survive. Shifting the business model. Jenni’s feeling is that shifting the business online was the essential step to survival and they plan to do so much more in the online space. Starting with a brand new website and a nationwide hamper service.

This is the output of the coaching and training programmes Jenni’s joined since the pandemic hit.

Business coaching and support 

During such challenging times, many businesses in the hospitality and catering industries looked inward, to protect their resources and finances. Jenni’s approach was different. She used the time to connect with business coaches, join business groups and take part in challenges and programmes that could support her growth – despite Covid.

She shares the best with us in the podcast. Including:

The Whin Instagram Masterclass (obviously the best!) 

When a regular customer advised Jenni to look into using Hashtags in a more strategic way, Jenni signed up for our Instagram Masterclass (£97 till the end of the year). She’s currently working her way through the 4 part training and has noticed an improvement in engagement already.

“The Whin Instagram Masterclass has changed my whole Instagram game completely. I’ve only just got on to unit 2, and I’ve found the Hashtag tasks so useful. Every time you said ‘pause the video and do this activity’ I’ve been strict with myself and done it. It’s been so useful.” – Jenni

Jenni’s book recommendations

Jenni’s accepted she doesn’t have the time or energy to read physical books (plus they make her sleepy!), so she’s a big fan of Audible.

E Myth by Michael Gerber*
Talks about how to scale a business. He looks at the franchise model and makes the case that even if you don’t want to franchise, so long as it’s at the point where the systems are in place so it could be franchised, then it’s running in a successful way.

Get Rich, Lucky Bitch! by Denise Duffield-Thomas*
This is all about uncovering your money blocks and your relationship with money. Jenni’s listened to this 3 times and is still unpacking money blocks. When you’re running a business, money is important. Exploring your relationship with money is so important for Jenni.

Everything is Figure Outable by Marie Forleo*
An excellent resource for figureing out what your goals are and how to reach them.

Do you want to grow your audience and sales using Instagram?

Jenni’s Instagram account is growing steadily as a direct result of following the guided steps in The Whin’s Instagram Masterclass.

A 4 part, 4 week course designed specifically to help you:

  • Grow your audience
  • Make stronger connections
  • Make sales
  • Find a strategy and plan that works best for you

It’s only £97 until the end of 2020 so if you want to see growth in all the best places on Instagram, now is the time to buy.

Resources and links discussed in this week’s episode

The Whin’s Instagram Masterclass

[Podcast] 4 Easy Steps to Instagram Reels

Dare to Grow: How to make your first Reels video

Lisa Bean: Expansion Business School

Jacky Clarke: Blueprint to Business

Modern Storyteller: PS Club

* Links marked with a star are affliate links to When you buy through these links, a small portion of the cost of the book goes to supporting your local bookshop, and a small portion comes to The Whin. The books won’t cost you any extra!

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