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These days, Make Cheese Inc. can barely keep up with the demand for cheesemaking kits, and while we don't mean to brag or anything, we like to think that the EV Christmas elves may have had a little something to do with Ella’s runaway success.
“Our first official market was 2011 Elves in the Village Christmas Market. It was a massive one-day blowout!" says Ella, who owns Make Cheese. It sure was. So many excited shoppers took home those little brown boxes of mozzarella or poutine starter kits that Ella had to call on friends to help her put together more kits. By the time she opened her booth at this year’s two-day Elves in the Village Christmas Market, Ella had expanded her selection from two kits to six. “Markets are great because they give us a chance to see what people really want,” Ella explains. Evidently, people want to make lots of different cheeses.
The former teacher followed her heart (and her love of curds) to the Vermont Institute of Artisan Cheese with the initial dream of starting a dairy. But oppressive start-up costs, followed by a eureka marketing moment, got her thinking about cheese-making kits instead. “I love this business because I can combine marketing with being connected to the land, people, and animals,” she says. “What better product to make than cheese?”
In addition to selling her kits at markets, Ella conducts cheese-making courses and offers resources like videos and recipes on her website. “Cheese-making can be a little daunting, because most people have not done anything like this before,” she admits. “I'm working on adding more resources to the website, updated recipes with more pictures and more videos so that people can see the process.”
No matter how busy Ella gets with her online business, she plans to keep bringing Make Cheese back to EV's Elves in the Village Christmas Market every year. “It's such a great market, with really nice people,” she smiles, “and I love having the chance to talk to all the other vendors.” She adds: “Besides, East Village is such a neat part of the city. I found great support in the city as a new innovative business, and I get a similar kind of excitement in EV. I love the buzz of anticipation there.”