The sweet seller
This is innovation
I spent four hours of my day this past weekend in one store — a sweet wholesaler.
My mother in her mid-forties picked up a side-hustle as a result of the COVID-19 induced lockdown. Selling sweets to kids. I cannot believe that my strict mother who has never spent more than an hour in one shop because of me spends hours in-store because of toddlers and pre-teens!
Innovation isn’t glamorous
A lot of people think innovation is the Apple or the Nike brand. People see innovation as something big, glamorous and never seen before. Yes, some innovative ideas might have these characteristics but innovation isn’t big, glamorous and never seen before. Innovation is the ability to bring about a process or product to satisfy a need efficiently or more beneficially than beforehand.
Innovation isn’t a moment
See, my mother lives in what’s classified as a rural area, so during lockdown children did not have access to much. In these areas, the only permissible adventures out of the home for kids are school and the backyard. My mother had a packet of sweets that she had bought for herself one of her young friends in the group that occasionally visits her( five to ten years old) asked her for a sweet. Reluctant to give the larger group the sweets she decided to sell them the sweets. Of course, my mother did this to discourage the kids from wanting her sweets but half an hour later she was ten rands richer and out of sweets. Innovation began.
Innovation is a process
After the second hour of looking for specific sweets demanded by my mother’s customers, I was advising my mother to buy options at first glance. I honestly, was not going to spend another 2 hours looking for a specific kind of ice cream. My mother, a mere data capturer at an event’s venue, started lecturing me about innovation and bringing something new to customers — no matter the expense- as long as it improves their lives. I was amazed but most of all proud.
In what was supposed to be simple errands I learnt so many lessons relating to my industry from my mother — who reckons she has got no bone for business and brand communication.
My mother who still has her full-time job rushes home every day to seven-year-old humans to satisfy a need no one in her valley took advantage of. My mother did not even see the demand in the gap until she was supplying services and products that serve the niche market. She thought nothing of making the lives of kids more comfortable and enjoyable by giving them easy access to the things they love most.
My mother never thought innovation would be “how do I offer sweets to children in a better way”.
And quite frankly I never thought so too.
Innovation is making something better.