Krystina L. Murawski
Updated: Sep 29, 2020
In the traditional sense, "TPG" stands for “The Peanut Gallery.” Google defines this phrase as:
“The top gallery in a theatre where the cheaper seats are located; and
A group of people who criticize someone, often by focusing on insignificant details.”
I imagine it would be like this classic gif from the muppets lol.
TPG emerged when the whole idea of Noomi was really in its infancy (circa January 2018)—you know, probably around the same time everyone thought I was just having another crazy Gemini idea. (Okay okay, valid).
But our version was a bit different, seeing as peanut butter (PB) and theatre is not the most obvious combination. Though I do suppose the best theatres would serve PB snacks to enhance the viewing experience. I digress...
The first three months since having the idea of Noomi were all about product development. I mean, it makes sense; without a peanut butter recipe, I couldn’t exactly have a peanut butter company. And once I did have some recipes, how could I really, truly know if the recipes were that great? I’m my own worst critic, so that helps, but I needed an official group of dedicated taste testers. People I could rely on to try my creations; give me honest feedback; and help me evolve and shape the taste of what would ultimately become Noomi’s signature blend of organic peanut butter.
At the time I began developing recipes, I was still with my prior company, where I had been for about seven years. In the last few years leading up to this point, I had made some great friends at work who I confided in about my nutty small business venture. Having that kind of support system of friends and family really helped keep me going. Motivated. Encouraged...through the tough days, unexpected hurdles and difficult decisions.
My friend Ashley (and Noomi's first official customer!) was instrumental throughout this process. She really believed in Noomi (at the time, unnamed), and in me—and she 110% knew I would find the perfect recipe that would bring my company to life. As confident as I am about most of the things that I do, I really needed every spoonful of support that I had. I still do. And I’m thankful I still have it.
I declared Ashley the CTO (Chief Tasting Officer) of TPG, haha. She became an integral part of the taste-testing from batch to batch—which recipes were good, bad, needed to be trashed, or could be improved upon. We’d meet weekly for taste-tests, and share our opinions on everything: peanuts, oils, flavor, texture, you name it. Every factor needed to be considered, and surely, it was.
I’d bring in little plastic baggies of samples with mini spoons for Ashley and some of my other friends to try. Each bag was labeled with a tiny piece of a neon-colored post-it note—and each post-it note had a small hand-written number on it to identify the batch. Sometimes I’d tie the bags in knots, and other times I’d use a “twister.” (I live for the details). I got a bit fancier as the days progressed, using small plastic sample cups labeled with permanent Sharpie marker. (That was before I realized the food business is a “business of pennies,”—thank you Leslie!—and cut those out pretty quick to reduce costs haha).
Over my three solid months of product development, I accumulated copious amounts of containers and PB samples in my fridge; this included at least two, gallon-size ziplock bags of smaller baggies of test batches. I mean, with 100 recipes in the making, you can only image my fridge’s PB inventory.
Rest assured, I just about matched my total PB inventory to the total amount I personally consumed. I had to be certain, you know???
In any case, the taste-tests and TPG meetings were always fun. We’d discuss and deliberate, and together, decide how to move forward. I wish I had recorded more of these sessions to look back on. Sometimes we’d even take it to the white-board to map out our thoughts. I, of course, had my yellow Moleskine notebook right beside me, taking notes on our decided plan.
I’d bring our feedback and notes right back to my one, brushed chrome food processor (named Stuart after the minion, of course), which was perfectly placed in the right-hand nook of my little-8-foot-galley-kitchen. I’d whip up more and more recipes, night after night; I also gave myself strict deadlines for the variations of recipes I needed to make before the next TPG meeting. Oh yes, TPG became quite the official group lol. We even set a deadline for the date I had to choose my final recipe by. (So glad we did!) Every formality was essential, and every deadline put me one step closer to achieving my goal.
To be honest, our taste-test and sample sesh time was the best time, and always one to look forward to—and Ashley, I appreciate how you were always there!! Forever RIP recipe #63; I just hope #100 makes you equally as proud. :)
Without TPG, I would not have been able to make it to batch #100.
Without TPG, my support system would’ve never been the same.
Without TPG, I would be without Noomi. And well, I’m just thankful that’s not the case!!!
Thank you TPG; my incredible CTO, Ashley; my mentor, Leslie; and all of my friends and family who played a role in this simple, three letter group. You are all so much a part of my journey, and you always will be.
Until our next taste-test...
Who has inspired you in your journey...and how?