HeaderBrian Van Dorn is the owner of Van Dorn Gourmets, a gourmet spice company specializing in all natural spice rubs, seasoning blends, and dip mixes.  Brian started the company in 2007, as a part time venture that soon became a full-time job for him.  Today, Brian shares his story with us – How he started his small business, what challenges he overcame and how Stamps.com has helped grow his dream into a successful and lucrative business.

Stamps.com: What inspired you to start your company, Van Dorn Gourmets?

At the time I started the company, I was employed full-time as a special effects make-up artist.  However, I’ve always been passionate about food and cooking from a very young age – Growing up, I worked at restaurants and have always enjoyed cooking with my family.  In fact, for Christmas, I would create different spice blends and share these with my family.  Everyone seemed to enjoy my spice blends and since I was already interested in starting a food-based business, I figured it would be a great idea to start creating and selling my spices commercially.

Stamps.com: What small business challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

Being an artist and more creatively focused, I didn’t really know much about starting and running a business.  I knew I had a good product, but trying to find all the resources to translate my creation into a lucrative business was challenging.  I did everything from researching online to reading books on how to start a business to asking other entrepreneurs for hints and tips.  Moreover, since I was still working full-time, it was hard to find time for the company.  However, this was my passion and so I just had to carve out time, which meant many long days and nights!

BVDStamps.com: How did you find out about us?

I first discovered the benefits of Stamps.com when I received a promotional package in the mail containing information on the services offered, along with a free software CD.

Stamps.com: What did you use prior to using online postage?

Prior to using Stamps.com, I would literally hand-write the addresses directly on my packages with a black marker, then proceed to go to the Post Office to have the packages weighed, and purchase postage, all steps I did not particularly care for.  The packages would look rather unprofessional, and the time spent at the Post Office would certainly have been better allocated to making spice blends for Van Dorn Gourmets.

Stamps.com: What made you choose Stamps.com?

The promotional package that I received from Stamps.com contained many appealing offers including a free scale, free labels, and a decent amount of free postage.  Starting a new small business can be expensive and very time consuming – Finding ways to streamline and professionalize my business was a priority from the very beginning.  Stamps.com was a great way to achieve both!

Stamps.com: Did you have any challenges with Stamps.com, when you first started to use the software?

I make gourmet spice rubs, seasoning blends, and dip mixes for a living.  I am not very computer savvy by any means whatsoever, and setting up Stamps.com was very, very simple.  The program is very user-friendly and with the constant software updates that are offered, the program just gets easier.  If I can do it, anyone can!


Stamps.com: What types of packages do you mail out with Stamps.com?

While we do sometimes sell our spice blends directly to our customers at local gourmet food events and farmers’ markets, most of our business is conducted online.  We ship our web store purchases from www.vandorngourmets.com directly to our customers.  Our packages are rather small, approximately 1-5 lbs.

Our products are also available for wholesale purchase and in bulk.  So, these packages can weigh up to 30 lbs.  And with 20 different varieties, our packages truly do vary in size and weight.  But they are all equally simple to ship with Stamps.com!

Stamps.com: Besides printing postage, are there other Stamps.com features that have helped your business?

Right off the bat, I’d have to say that being able to include my logo directly on my shipping label is a huge plus.  Building the Van Dorn Gourmets brand is a very important priority for me and having people recognize the logo on the label itself is such a great feature!  Moreover, I don’t think you can get that kind of service from the Post Office.  The other features that have been beneficial:  Scheduling a pick-up!  It’s quick, easy and the mail carrier picks up our packages right at our door.  Ordering supplies on Stamps.com is also another very useful feature for me.  I can order labels and shipping supplies, including the free Priority Mail products and the payments are conveniently linked to my account.  It couldn’t be faster and easier!

Stamps.com: What features of Stamps.com do you use the most and how have these helped streamline your shipping process?

I mostly print shipping labels from Stamps.com and sometimes a few envelopes as well.  It’s so fast!  You log in, weigh your package, type in the address information, and choose the shipping method and print!  I schedule a carrier pick-up and I’m done!  I can then go back to making my spices!

Stamps.com: What’s next for Van Dorn Gourmets?

I am very excited to be working on a new store location in Los Angeles, CA for Van Dorn Gourmets.  While we are still just in the demolition phase, I believe once ready, the physical store will help further boost sales and grow the business!

To learn more about Van Dorn Gourmets, visit the website at www.vandorngourmets.com.

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