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July 23, 2015

Craftsmanship is the Ultimate #TBT

It's Throw Back Thursday, folks. It's the day of the week when people post pictures of themselves with bad haircuts and smaller waistlines. It's good for a chuckle or a quick stroll down memory lane.

Batch turns two years old next week. And while you'll be hearing a lot about that milestone next week, we admittedly don't have a huge trove of images to post to Instagram of how things were for us "back when." But, the very nature of our business makes us see on an almost daily basis how things used to be. And more importantly, it makes us realize how things can be once more.

A perfect example of this is the notion of craftsmanship. Take this quote from President Obama, so nicely summed up on Cal Newport's blog:

"The more you do something, and the more you practice it, at a certain point it becomes second nature. What I’ve always been impressed with about when I listen to comics talk about comedy is how much of it is a craft. Right? They’re thinking it through, and they had a sense of when it works and when it doesn’t. The longer you do it the better your instincts are."

In short, craft matters, no matter what it is you make or manage. One of my greatest joys at Batch is getting to see people master a craft.

Take for example Luke Duncan. Here he is:

Luke makes great cocktail mixers under the label Eli Mason. Here's an example:

Eli Mason just announced a new peach concoction. And it's good. I can tell you this even though I haven't personally tried it. How do I know? 

I know because Luke is dedicated to his craft and won't release a new line until he thinks it's damn near perfect. And even then, he'll only offer a limited run just to make sure the new release is up to his high standards and skill. With craft and quality like this, Luke is able to keep growing, promising something more than liquid in a bottle. 

Or check out Mary-Wommack Barton:

She is the creator of Barton Table, which makes this tasty chocolate sauce:

When I first had coffee with Mary-Wommack last year, she told me in detail about how she makes her product - the testing, the tasting (I'll sign up for that part in a heartbeat), and the tweaking. And when she shipped her latest case to us, she let me know more details about this specific batch (no pun intended).

It seems that when you commit to craft in a world of mass production, something magical can happen. You're not merely taking a step back in time, but you're also making a bet on the future. You're stating your case for how and why attention to detail and a continual improvement in skill and output is better for everyone. 

Long live craft.

April 30, 2015

Batch Store Dispatch: New Jewelry Mom Will Love

The Batch store has been taken over by new arrivals of locally made jewelry, thrilling the ladies who work here and customers alike. We are now stocking gorgeous necklaces, earrings, rings, and bracelets from local jewelry companies Red Earth, Miriam Designs, Freshie & Zero, and Consider The Wldflwrs. So many pretty things to look at! And with Mother’s Day coming up fast, the timing of our jewelry invasion couldn’t be better. Here are a few pieces that would be just perfect for mom (or sister, or best friend, or you, for that matter):

Freshie & Zero Love Necklace. This necklace was designed to represent the beauty and connection of motherhood in a more subtle, abstract way than other "mom jewelry" on the market. A powerful statement in a delicate necklace Mom will love. 

Miriam Designs Turquoise Earrings. Everyone at the store is obsessed with these earrings right now. They look amazing with any skintone/hair color and will be a welcome, colorful addition to mom's jewelry box.

Consider The Wldflwrs Double Stem Necklace. Another beautiful, delicate necklace that subtly says, "Mom, I love you, and we're in this together."

That's just a very small sampling of our current jewelry selection. Stop by the store to see the rest and pick out the perfect gift.

Of course, the great thing about going to Batch to pick up a lovely piece of jewelry for your mom is that we have so much more than jewelry. You can start with a necklace and build a personalized beautiful gift basket around it, knowing every product is high quality and locally made. We'd suggest a sweet olive leaf candle from Southern Firefly, some Sweet Darling macarons, and a luxurious tea towel from Turkish T. We'll box it up for you, tie it with ribbon, and send you on your way to delight that awesome woman who raised you. It doesn't get much easier (or more fun) than that.

Mother’s Day is May 10th, y'all. 

April 23, 2015

Batch Store Dispatch: Nashville Marathon Essentials

We’re just two days away from the Country Music Marathon & Half Marathon! We love to see Nashville come together to welcome runners from all over the world as they pound the pavement through our beautiful city. And luckily for us (and you!), the Batch store has a prime spot on the marathon route this year. Whether you’re running, watching, cheering, or volunteering, stop by the Batch store to pick up some essentials for race weekend. Here are our recommendations:

Sweet Meat Jerky

For a quick hit of protein, you can’t beat Sweet Meat Jerky. It’s all-natural, organic, flavorful, and will make you question everything you thought you knew about jerky. (The most common customer reaction when trying Sweet Meat for the first time is, “I don’t even like jerky, but I love this.”) It's a perfect snack for runners and spectators alike.

Sunday Morning Pancake Mix

Because carbo-loading is a must, whether you're running the full marathon, half marathon, 5K, or hunkering down at home on Saturday to avoid traffic. And this pancake mix, made from hand-milled flour, is the best we've ever tasted.

Walker's Bloody Mary Mix

For the Sunday morning after the marathon, when you’re feeling sore, accomplished, and extremely deserving of a delicious stiff drink with brunch. Bloody Mary fanatics can't get enough of this spicy mix.

Thistle Farms Lotion & Little Seed Farm Healing Balm

After running 26 miles (or even standing around for a few hours watching other people run 26 miles), your dogs are going to be barking. Give your sore feet some much-needed TLC with a moisturizing massage using Thistle Farms lavender lotion, then treat rough spots and blisters with Little Seed Farm’s Hand-Aid Healing Balm (trust us, despite the name, it works just as well on feet, and the botanical mix of soothing herbs and oils works wonders for callouses, scrapes, and aches).

Best of luck to everyone running, and we hope to see you this weekend!

April 17, 2015

Batch Store Dispatch: Bigger, Better, Open Later

Our lil' Batch store is growing up so fast! Well, maybe "expanding laterally" is a better descriptor than "growing up," but either way, we're excited to finally open up the back area of our store, nearly doubling our retail area. Check out how great it looks: 


It's still the well-edited, easy-to-browse Batch store you love, but with a little more room to wander, and more importantly, extra space to display a wider range of fantastic local products. That means more Southern Firefly candles. New aprons, bibs, and stuffed animals in some to-die-for new prints from Elvie. A ton of new bath and body products from Little Seed Farm, Music City Suds, and Thistle Farms (personal favorite: an all-natural bug repellent that smells like roses and geraniums).  

And don't forget those two comfy chairs and stylish cow print rug. Perfect for relaxing and gathering strength to tackle your shopping spree, or just sitting and hanging out with us for a bit. We'd love to chat with you about our favorite products, Nashville's "it-city" status, crafting, dog accessories, songwriting, DIY home renovations, Jack White's hairstyles, turnip puns, baby goats, and/or the pros and cons of eating Bella pizza for lunch 6 days a week. Just ask.

Ready for more good news? The newly expanded store area coincides with newly expanded store hours too. We're now open until 8PM on Fridays and Saturdays. 

So let's summarize. More room to browse. More time to browse. More great local products to discover. What's not to love? We'll see you this weekend, Nashville.

April 08, 2015

Batch Store Dispatch: Discovering New Favorites

One of our missions at Batch is facilitating discovery -- we love helping our customers connect with the best locally made products and discover new favorites. Working at the Batch store, we get to see these discoveries take place in real time, and it's our favorite part of the job.

There are a few products in particular that, once customers discover them at the store, they tend to come back to stock up, sometimes just a few hours after making their original purchase. And trust us: we get it. We're huge fans of these products too. Here are three of the most popular “discoveries” we have in stock right now:

Trubee lip balm. All the Trubee honey products have a loyal following, but none of them inspire the kind of fervor that the lip balm does. There’s good reason: this lip balm is all-natural, deeply moisturizing, and has a subtle mint scent that’s totally intoxicating. We always warn people who buy a tube that they’ll probably be back the next day to buy a few more to keep in their glove boxes, desk drawers, alternate purses, cargo pockets, etc. They laugh, thinking we’re just kidding, but sure enough, they’re usually back within a few days, plopping 3 or 4 more tubes down in front of the register and saying, “You were right, this really is the best lip balm ever and I never want to be farther than 3 feet away from a tube of it.”

Delta Cheese Straws. The ingredients on these cheese straws include “extra sharp cheddar” and “love,” so you know they’re going to be good. What you can’t anticipate until you try them is just how good they are. It can be tough to make it home without finishing off the entire bag, which is why we always advise buying a few. 

Prohibition Popcorn. There are two kinds of people who come into the store to buy Prohibition Popcorn: people who are already addicted to it, and people who are about to get addicted to it. Once you try it, you’ll understand. This whiskey-infused caramel corn has a perfect balance of salt and sweetness, a satisfying crunch, and a melt-in-your-mouth finish. It’s perfect for gifts, party snacks, or just munching on while watching a movie at home. Customers who buy one bag almost always come back to stock up or share the caramel-y goodness with friends.

Stop by the Batch store in the farmers' market next time you're in downtown Nashville and we guarantee you'll discover a new favorite. Just take our word for it: you might want to stock up.

April 06, 2015

In Order to Think Different, Think Small

Here are two stories about thinking small that prove the power of standing out.

Time and again, we're meeting local makers who think small and there's no doubt their lives and businesses will be better for it. 

After all, it was a large company (Apple) that showcased the power of thinking different years ago with its iconic ad campaign. At the time it wasn't as big as it is today. Pre-iPads and shiny laptops, the (relatively) small computer maker needed to get attention by thinking different.

And as it turns out, today smaller companies and local makers can stand out by thinking different because they're small. Check out this article in the New Yorker. The piece profiles the rise in small businesses, particularly those brewing up tasty craft beers. The author highlights a signature point of differentiation that has led to steady growth:

"But the small breweries came back. Their beers were not better advertised and certainly not better priced. Rather, the crafts went after an enormous blind spot for the big breweries—namely, flavor."

There's no arguing with that. Stand out by doing what you do well no matter how big you are. People will flock. 

A few weeks ago, it was announced that Amazon will be shuttering its service soon that has been helping small businesses play in the big worlds of ecommerce and distribution. There's been no official word from Amazon, but I'm willing to bet this opportunity to serve small makers became less and less a part of their long-term strategy and business model. 

Of course, the small (different) businesses that used and relied on this service will need a new home. Shopify (a company that is quickly getting bigger) will be there for them (as they are for us) to meet the needs of the little guys and gals. Their eye is firmly on what makes these folks different (their size) and Shopify is succeeding immensely as a result. (See also the startups aimed to help small companies with logistics needs.)

At Batch, our most important work is being the champion of the local purveyor. Per our mission and vision documents, this is something each team member here commits to when they come on board. We're growing (Here we come, Atlanta!), but we'll forever have our feet firmly planted on the side of small and local. Not because it's a trend. But because it's different. 

Size doesn't matter to us. Different does. 

April 02, 2015

Batch Store Dispatch: Easter Made Easy

Welcome to the first Batch Store Dispatch! Every week your friendly Batch store associate/blogger Winona will fill you in on what's happening at the Batch retail store in Nashville, products we're loving right now, and upcoming events we're excited about. This week, we're all about Easter. Bring on the sugar rush. 

Don't ask me where March went, but somehow Easter is just a few days away. Whether you're a "run around town for weeks seeking out the finest locally made gifts" type or more of a "stop at Walgreens on the way to Grandma's house and hope they have a bag of Cadbury Eggs left" person, this year we'd like to invite you to make your Easter shopping easy, efficient, and fun. Just come to Batch instead. We have everything you need for Easter baskets and hostess gifts all in one place. Also? Our store is way prettier than Walgreens.

Our most popular Easter items right now are these awesome chocolate eggs and bunnies from Chocolate F/X that are as delicious as they are adorable. With flavors like chocolate peanut butter and cookies n' cream, they're great for kids and adults alike and have been flying off the shelves accordingly. Don't worry though, we have plenty left for you to stock up for Sunday.

Other Easter items to delight everyone on your list: Walker Creek caramels and toffee (packaged in Easter bunny-approved pastels, of course); soft, hand-sewn stuffed animals from Elvie; mommy n' me apron sets; Bang Candy gourmet marshmallows; and a wide selection of beautifully crafted wood toys from Giggle Tree that are ready and waiting to become family heirlooms.

As always, we can box up any gifts, free of charge, and Laura, the store's in-house ribbon arbiter*, will help you choose the perfect color combination to top it off with a big, beautiful bow. 

Whether you're doing some last minute Easter shopping or just have a sweet tooth, you're probably going to want to stop by the shop for our Sweet Darling macaron tasting on Saturday from 12-2. The new spring flavor collection includes Coconut Lime and Peaches and Cream -- trust us, you don't want to miss this.

We look forward to seeing you soon, and happy Easter!

*Seriously. A customer came in the other day requesting ribbon colors that were "sophisticated, mostly platonic, with perhaps a hint of flirtatious undertones" and everyone agreed that Laura's tasteful light pink and taupe combination knocked it out of the park.

April 01, 2015

Announcing Batch Ferret

APRIL 1, 2015

Batch announces a new product line in its subscription service, Batch Ferret. The new offering leverages its reach in the subscription and gift markets as it looks to diversify its product lines beyond food and artisan gifts.

"We think this is a game changer," said Sam Davidson, co-founder and CEO. "For nearly two years now, people have told us how much they enjoy receiving Batch goodies in the mail each month. The next logical step for Batch is the untapped market of sending ferrets."

The company, headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, is believed to be the first in the nation to offer mail-order ferrets. Davidson went on to confirm that like its subscription service, the ferret in the box (size, shape, weight, and length) will be a surprise. "In sourcing local ferrets from each of our core cities, we've been pleasantly surprised with the myriad options available. These are truly artisan ferrets; no two are alike."

For an even bigger surprise each month, it's possible that a subscriber could receive a pregnant ferret, or even one who has given birth in transit. 

Customers can sign up beginning tomorrow at Subscriptions will begin at $74.99 each month with free shipping. The first 100 people who sign up via the company's website will also get a handmade fanny pack that can double as a carrying case for their ferret. 

Batch was founded in 2013 by Sam Davidson, Rob Williams, and Stephen Moseley as a monthly subscription service that now also offers curated personal and corporate gifts. Batch operates in five cities and gained notoriety last year with the April Fool's Day joke about its merger with big-box retailer Walmart.

March 20, 2015

What's in a Batch? March 2015 Edition

For those curious (and not lucky enough to be on the receiving end) about what we shipped out this month far and wide to our subscription customers, belly up to the brunch bar so we can show you all the goodness to be had. 

First off, the goods from each city (Nashville, Memphis, Charleston, or Austin) arrive in a handy box:

And this month, when you opened things up, we felt the need to remind you about our impending Tour of Texas:

And then bam! Look at this tasty brunch from Nashville!

That's some high quality goods from the likes of:

And from Charleston? Ain't no brunch like a Lowcountry brunch:

Who doesn't want to invite the entire family over to indulge in goodies from:

Who's ready to see how they do brunch in Austin?

What a lineup, including treats from:

And as for Memphis? Watch out!

That's some high quality brunch-ness from:

And for the ultimate brunch fan, just soak in all four boxes of brunch-tastic bliss:

Oh - in case you missed it, why not grab the city of your choice today? (Or even better, snag all four!)

March 09, 2015

Why Food Matters

At some point, food became more about calories than community. That can change.

I spent the better part of my weekend standing behind a table. Granted, it was at the Charleston Wine + Food Festival, where craft beer, gourmet samples, and delicious wine are ready for the taking. But, there I stood along with Kelly Sherrill, our Batch Charleston director, telling our story and that of our nonprofit partner in Charleston, The Green Heart Project

Like most booths at trade shows and the like, you quickly realize you have about 14 seconds of someone's attention before their mind starts wandering to what's next. This time shortens as the day progresses and people are tired from walking and standing or buzzed from all the free booze (or both). So you learn to make a statement as quickly as possible in order to attract attention and keep the conversation going. 

Batch was partnering with both Green Heart and the festival to produce a limited edition gift batch, full of tastes from the Artisan Market. We were selling these on site and all proceeds were be donated to support Green Heart's farm-to-school work (a limited number of these remain for sale online). And so time and again, all weekend, I got to tell stories about food: about the food in the box, about the food Green Heart helps grow, and about the food that brings us all together.

Food, it seems, has more and more been equated with fuel. I'll admit that on my busiest days, this is my outlook. Nutrients in, energy out. Eat standing up, while emailing, while driving - it doesn't matter. The point is to consume so as to expend and then repeat the process as needed. But all this does is separate food from it's true life giving benefits - that of connection.

Hopefully, most of us have fond memories of food. The scents that greeted us as something was baking in the oven when we came home from college for the holidays. Shared dinners and recaps of our days gathered around a kitchen table with family. Friends getting together for a drink or some snacks to catch up after too many years. Traditions like Sunday suppers, summer cookouts, and road trip restaurant pit stops. Each of these instances isn't just about what's being eaten. It's about what else is happening because something is being eaten.

I imagine this is what happens when Green Heart connects a kid to the wonder of local food. Their work isn't just to convince a youngster that he or she can get more quality nutrients for their growing bodies. It's to connect them with the land that produces local food, the community that it takes to plant and harvest a garden, and the relief and joy that comes from hard work - the fruits of which happen to be pleasantly edible. 

Here's my favorite picture from the weekend. Pictured are Drew Harrison, Executive Director of The Green Heart Project, and Kelly Timmons, of Granna's Gourmet. Kelly's pickled okra is in our commemorative batch and she believes in what is happening when it comes to local food. Soon, when it's season, Granna's may be pickling some of the okra the students are growing. The connection continues. 

Life speeds up and sometimes, food does need to be about consumption and calories. But we're better when we can make food about community and connection. If you feel lost in this dynamic and struggle to find a place where food can be about more than fuel, you're not lost.

You just haven't made it to the table yet. But we've saved a seat for you. 

Come; let's eat.

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