Orca Communications Client Spotlight: O-Yaki
Welcome to the Orca Communications PR client spotlight. Each month our clients tell you in their own words why they do what they do and provide tips for other growing small brands and businesses.
O-Yaki Products is a small minority-owned business that creates convenient products for the home & kitchen. Since they started working with Orca, their products have been featured on MSN.com, Buzzfeed, Real Simple, Forbes, TODAY.com, RollingStone, Reader’s Digest, FoodNetwork.com, ESSENCE, and Parents.com among dozens of other media outlets. We sat down with co-founder Monisha Tasker who tells us what makes O-Yaki thrive.
How did you come up with the concept for O-Yaki Products?
Co-founder and partner Shiv Tasker invented the O-Yaki Skewer System so he could make multiple kebabs in any weather without issues of overcooking or food sticking to the grill. He created a prototype and when friends and family wanted one for themselves, we decided to try to patent the product and look into producing it for a retail market.
While investigating manufacturers we found that small family-run workshops in India had the capability to make high-grade products, but due to their limited capacity were unable to get people to invest in them. We decided that, as a small business ourselves, we would invest in these workshops and we have been so delighted with the quality of product we have been getting… we support small businesses everywhere.
You have several great eco-friendly products. Is there a product or design you’re most proud of?
I feel that our Ecoware coffee mugs offer a great alternative to disposable travel cups and am really delighted to offer this line to people. We even have one made from coffee grounds!
You’ve made an effort to create products that have a minimal impact on the environment. How did you decide on the types of materials to source for your Ecoware line?
We were getting a lot of requests from our clients for additional products. While investigating what we could provide our client base, we came across data on eco-friendly and sustainable products that could be made from wheat and rice husk with recycled plastic. Articles we researched said this type of material could be created as pellets and then moulded to make any type of household material.
Our motto has always been to try to help the planet and its inhabitants and these products fit into our mandate well. We sourced two manufacturers that had all the certifications to create the type of recycled, eco-friendly bioplastic we were looking for and we were able to offer a line of eco-friendly products to our customer base.
Your products involve food, so I’m assuming you must enjoy cooking. What is one of your favorite meals to cook?
Our whole family loves to cook!! One of my easy meals is to make a roast chicken with roasted potatoes on the O-Yaki Skewer System. It’s easy, requires very little prep and you get a perfect chicken every time. It’s my best go-to meal to make.
You chose to work with small family-run manufacturers in India. What’s your one piece of advice for other product entrepreneurs who might be struggling with finding the right manufacturing partners?
This is not easy…. finding a good liaison in India is important. It’s also important to go visit your manufacturers and stay in touch with them – personal contact is key…. we had to go through several layers to find the right effective partners, and genuine people we felt confident working with. China has a better infrastructure for this and it is easier there, but the language barrier is greater. In India, you can find English-speaking people but you really need to be wary of people trying to make a quick buck and cutting out the manufacturer. Sometimes in order to please you or just get the contract, the small manufacturer will promise things they cannot actually do, so it’s important to triple-check everything before awarding the contract. We had a few missteps along the way in this area.
Now for a question that we ask all of our clients. Name one thing you like about working with Orca Communications.
My biggest happy face answer would be MICHELLE MOLISON. She has been such a great supporter and advocate for us, and I have just loved working with her. I cannot be more delighted with all that she has done to promote our products and showcase them in the light we feel they deserve. Orca is a true supporter of small business innovators and I love that about Orca.
Are there any specific projects or designs you’re working on right now that you’d like to share?
I am looking into a lunch box cooler item that would be great for the beach and/or just a kids’ lunch box to hold the bento box and water bottle. We are looking into better materials for this concept, but it’s a bit of a way away from that – hopefully, by next summer, we will have something to share.