Our progress so far

Just some quick updates of where we are on this little adventure

Updates!

DECEMBER 2022

Happy holidays!!!

We're in the final stretch before the ball drops on 2022...and what a year its been!

The new manufacturing environment is operational, though not optimized or certified yet. We're going to need some better electrical in there before I get some bigger equipment and we're going to have to work out the plumbing situation as well. However, while we're waiting, why not get stocked up for next year?

This past market season was interesting. I tried to prep my inventory going into the season but grossly underestimated the demand. In addition to all the new chocolate flavors I rolled out during the summer, I was manufacturing as much as physically possible between markets. 2023 will be different! In addition to prepping for several events at the Rose Petal I'll be attending leading up to the season, I'm starting to manufacture right now! Dark chocolates don't actually go bad, so I'm getting those all stocked up now. Through January, I'll be starting to stock up on the Milk Chocolates, with a little hope that I'll have enough to support a regular appearance at the Rose Petal beginning in February.

I'm also starting to size up a change to my packaging, which would not only save myself a ton of time, but it would also create a fully sealed package for each bar. This is probably going to be the next big step after I get my manufacturing environment certified. This is still a ways off, but will hopefully be in place for 2023.

Last quick update, there are a lot of new flavors on the horizon. I put my engineering hat back on and figured out a few chocolate life-hacks which should streamline several of my manufacturing lines. With the change, it opened the doors to a couple of tricky flavors...like hot pepper and orange. These are invasive flavors that seed to want to take over my melangers, so I've been reluctant to go after them. Also, I came across an interesting option for an oatmilk chocolate...that's right! Dairy free milk chocolate. I'm excited for this one. There will likely be two bars that'll use this oatmilk chocolate, the second one will have an inclusion, but I'm not quite sure what the inclusion will be just yet.

Special shout out to Ashley over at the Rose Petal, she's been an absolute saint to invite me in and then continually put up with my shenanigans. Thank you, Ashley!!! Expect to see me again come Valentine's season at the Rose Petal in Cut Bank!


NOVEMBER 2022

The market season is officially over in Montana, and Joy Chocolates has been laying low for the past month or so...however, that is only in terms of sales. We've actually been quite busy! We're just now finishing up construction of the new Joy Chocolates manufacturing floor, with a special thanks to Taylor over at Honey Badger Contractors. We're going to get this new room up and running asap, but the commercial kitchen certification is going to have to wait until 2023...since we're still pending plumbing and a couple other odds and ends (plumbing will be the big one and will have to wait until the thaw before we attempt that. But still, very big news and its really nice to have my very own Joy Chocolates space.

The other big news is that we're going to be setting up shop at the Rose Petal in Cut Bank on Saturday, November 26th! Special Thanks again to Ashley for letting us crash the party over there.

I've also been a little too relaxed with the news letters. Once I manage to get control of it from my wonderful wife and IT specialist (Melody), I'll start sending out these out a little more regularly.


OCTOBER 2022

Thanks for an amazing market season, Montana! Special thanks to Great Falls, Whitefish, and Cut Bank Farmer's Markets (and the other markets that I made appearances at throughout the season) for putting up with my shenanigans and sidewalk chalk art. Lots of great experiences, memories, and folks along the way!

Some good news! Of course Joy Chocolates is a start up business, but I think we have successfully managed to provide proof-of-concept with this 2022 market season. In a nutshell, this means instead of disappearing quietly into cold season never to be seen again, we're actually going to be growing this off-market-season. Plus, we're not shutting down! Ashley, over at the Rose Petal in Cut Bank has graciously opened their doors to Joy Chocolates, and needless to say, this is just awesome. I won't be manufacturing there, but Joy Chocolates will be on-site Saturdays (beginning at the end of October). If you have the chance, come on down to the Rose Petal (www.rosepetalmt.com), have a fantastic cup of Folklore coffee (www.folklorecoffeemt.com) while you're there, and NOW don't forget to pick up some Joy Chocolates while you're at it!

Don't forget to sign up for our mailing list. We'll keep everyone updated on special events and we'll be announcing monthly-ish trips down to Great Falls through the cold season. Why, you ask? Because, we'll be taking orders for either pick up or delivery (pending demand) in Great Falls. And as always, if you're in Cut Bank, I deliver...just give me a call at 406-298-3482. There is still a chance we'll be making a trip over the Divide to the Whitefish area for delivery, but this is still just a maybe...since Logan pass is a pretty scary drive in the cold and snow.

Of course Joy Chocolates is a start up business, but I think we have successfully managed to provide proof-of-concept with this 2022 market season. In a nutshell, that means instead of disappearing quietly into the night, we're actually going to be growing this off-market-season. Here are some of the changes that have either just arrived, or are coming soon!

Our new flavors (in case you missed them):

  • The Littlest Rockies (55% milk chocolate made with heavy cream, plus a light sprinkle of Himalayan salt),

  • Paradise Chai (60% dark milk with chai spice),

  • The Mighty Mo (70% dark with molasses).

We still need a little website management to get all the nice pics in here, but I figure that bar is still pretty low for me.

Two new flavors coming in hot!

  • Santa Rita (85% dark)

  • Sweet Grass (85% dark with vanilla)...if I can get it to work.

A couple slight flavor and recipe adjustments:

  • Glacier (75% dark with peppermint) is becoming Many Glacier (65% dark with peppermint)

  • The Cut Bank is moving from 60% dark to 65% dark.

  • The Mighty Mo (70% dark with mollassess) will be shifting to a 95% dark with molasses formulation when I run out of existing inventory.

Last but not least, we're changing a few of our pre-existing Texas chocolate bar names:

  • The Old Spanish Trail (75% dark) is becoming The Big Sky

  • Sienna Special Dark (95% Dark) is becoming Last Chance Gulch

  • St Emanuel (55% malted milk) is becoming Saint Mary)

...still working on the dark chocolate with hot pepper recipe. I really hope to have that figured out by the Holidays.

In other news, if you haven't already had the chance to read it, our article in the New York Times is linked on the Joy Chocolates in Action! page. Feel free to jump over there and get caught up on this little adventure, albeit from a slightly different perspective.

Our new melanger is officially up and running...Melanger #5! Special thanks to Jimmy over at Diamond Custom Machines for helping out with some mechanical issues I had a couple weeks ago. Jimmy is one of the reason I keep going back to www.melangers.com for new equipment! He's a life saver!

Now is the time for construction of the new Joy Chocolates kitchen to begin! We're just finishing up the quoting phase now, but hopefully the new controlled environment will be up and running in October 2022. We'll need to add plumbing to the project yet, which will likely be after the melt in Spring 2023...followed shorty by our Commercial Kitchen certification. Very exciting stuff! This means we'll finally be able to open up for a wider distribution, wholesale, and shipping. Insert blanket apology to everyone who has requested shipping here...its coming, I promise! Please save just a little more patience for me :)


Thanks again for an amazing market season!

Ian


9/8/2022

It has been an insane couple of weeks!! The New York Times article hit...and I just want to say that I'm sorry about how late I'm getting back to everyone. I'm going as fast as I can, but the flood of emails that came in was really pretty overwhelming. With that being said, thank you all very much for your love and support, it has truly been an awesome experience.

With that, we have several new flavors joining the Joy Chocolates family. The Mighty Mo (70% dark chocolate with molasses) is officially here! I admit, the flavor isn't for everyone (apparently molasses flavor is a little divisive amongst my testers)...regardless, I love it, and encourage everyone to give it a try!

There are also two brand new additions (yet to see a market). First off, The Littlest Rockies (55% dark milk chocolate made with heavy cream and a light sprinkle of Himalayan salt on the back)...so...yea...this is unbelievable. For the longest time St Emanuel was my personal favorite, but now that The Littlest Rockies have arrived, this is the absolute best. Combining the same dark milk chocolate I used in The Hi-Line with the Himalayan salt I use with our #2 best seller: Chimney Rock...the product is truly magical. For you milk chocolate eaters out there...I think this is going to be the best of the best.

This one is still refining, but it's tasting pretty good so far...our very own Paradise Chai (55% dark milk chocolate with Chai spice). There will definitely be more to come with regards to this one, but I haven't had the opportunity to test out the finished chocolate just yet. Needless to say, I have pretty high hopes! Additionally, there may be a Chai Dark Chocolate in the future...but I'll wait for the people to speak.

8/17/2022

Big News! Just got word that our article in the New York Times will be printed this coming Monday...August 22nd. Don't worry, I'll include a link when I get one. The timing of which is pretty good. Hopefully it'll help bring another surge to the farmer's markets which should also coincide with the return or some more moderate temperatures. That, and I've been taking it easy over the past couple weeks, waiting out my cold and the hot weeks...returning to full just in time to try and meet demand next week.

8/13/2022

Sorry to everyone who came looking for me over the past week or so and couldn't find me...I've been sick and needed some down time. Still do, to be completely honest. But I do feel like I'm on the mend and we should have a strong finish to the Market season. I can't guarantee that I'll make the Cut Bank, Shelby, or East Glacier markets this coming week, but I'm going to do everything in my power to be back in Great Falls by 8/20!

I'll keep you posted!

7/31/2022

Look at this: Two updates a month...what is this? June? HA!

The summer heat has definitely slowed down the rush for chocolate. Markets and 90+ degree days can lead to some gooey chocolate experiences, but I am trying my best to keep the bars chilled enough to get you home in one solid piece. Believe it or not, but this is actually a blessing in disguise. The lower volumes are giving me a chance to take a little break and not move at full blast during the hot months. With all that extra time I'm going to be attempting to take on a new market...Shelby Market and Music on Thursdays from 4-6 pm. Its nice and close to home, in addition to being relatively short...hard to ask for more. With that, I'm not sure how many folks from Shelby have had a chance to try my chocolate yet...but I should be there on August 4th, and hope not to disappoint. I am also starting to work on the Joy Chocolates BIG 3 oz bars for the holidays. With the help of my loving supporters, I've received many many flavor recommendations. Some logistically challenging, some requiring additional research...but some are just right. The plan is to have the BIG bars ready in these alternate flavors in time for Christmas shopping.

While we're on the subject of Christmas, unfortunately I will not likely be present at Christmas Markets this year. I apologize in advance. With Covid waves still crashing over us and the new information with regards to the communicability of Monkey Pox, Melody and I have decided that we'll be hunkering down over the winter and avoiding the big indoor crowds as much as possible.

The good news is that I am currently in discussion with Folklore Coffee / The Rose Petal in Cut Bank, and may be sharing some store front space. This will likely only be for maybe a few days a week beginning after the Market season has come to a close. This is all still a work in progress, but I'll keep you posted on this development as it works itself out!

7/6/2022

It has been a little while since my last entry, my apologies. I've been busy. I honestly didn't expect the to be moving the amount of chocolate that I am...and I'm overwhelmed with the love and support from everyone coordinating and shopping at the various Farmer's Markets. Thank you all!

The big news is that after this week, my inventory should be under control, and with a little luck I won't be running out of the classics moving forward. There are a couple of caveats to that, the plan is that I'll be intermittently allowing The Cut Bank (60% sweet dark) and Glacier (75% dark with peppermint) to run out, in favor of making sure the crowd favorites are in stock. Honestly, I absolutely love the Glacier bar but The Cut Bank is too sweet for my taste. Regardless of that, it seems that these two bars are purely an impulse purchase and don't fully capture the passion I'm reaching for...but if you are a fan, don't worry, they'll still be around and please don't be afraid to voice your opinions at the next farmers market :)

I've also been getting a lot of suggestions for new flavors at the various markets, and a hot pepper chocolate seems to be the most requested. Now that I'm caught up with inventory, it may be the time for a little R&D. I ordered parts to bring my forth melanger online, which I think will be reserved for sample batches. Anyways, I'm a little afraid of the pepper chocolate, being that it may cause some residuals smells to carry over into the various other flavors that may be scheduled to grind next. Needless to say, this probably isn't desirable, so I'll have to tread carefully. Alternatively, this may simply require a dedicated melanger...I guess we'll play that by ear. But something to look forward too nonetheless!

Anyways, the hot pepper chocolate joins my molasses chocolate as a work in progress. Come time for the various holiday markets, the plan is to have some limited releases...more to come!!!

6/7/2022

Very excited to be invited back to the Great Falls Farmer's Market this coming Saturday (6/11/22). Not that our actions this past Saturday were particularly unruly, but more with regards to limitations placed on new vendors. Regardless, we'll be there bright and early with big ol' smiles on! Come on down and join us for some great chocolate in Great Falls from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm this coming Saturday!!!

Just a side thought on our Sienna Special Dark (95% dark chocolate). Its definitely not for everyone, but those of you who are all about the super dark chocolate, the Sienna Special Dark is hard to beat. I know those of you out there who like the 95% chocolates have a serious brand loyalty, but this weekend we'll have samples available...just to try...guilt free. I'll bet you a bar that Joy Chocolates' Sienna Special Dark is better than your current favorite.

6/6/2022

Thanks everyone who came out to see us on Saturday in Great Falls, some great times with some great folks enjoying some great chocolate! It seems that the people of Montana are direly in need of me, which definitely helps validate Joy Chocolates, or at least provides a little proof of concept. I'll do my best to keep your cravings in check!

No word yet on whether I've been invited back to the Great Falls Farmer's Market for this coming Saturday. Since Joy Chocolates is a new vendor, we'll likely only be invited back to every other market...which is kind of a bummer, since the people of Great Falls clearly needed me. Regardless, I'll make sure I show up for each market I'm invited and keep you posted on which markets I'll be attending.

The People's Market in East Glacier is going to be next! It looks like that starts up on Friday 6/17, and runs every Friday and Saturday through the end of September (I believe). That should be a good time as well. We've had a pretty active FaceBook chat going and everyone seems very nice. Can't wait to meet everyone face to face. I can't wait for a few more amazing market experiences!

5/30/2022

We're readying ourselves for two interesting events. First will be on 6/1, the article the New York Times did on Melody and I will be published and readable, I'll post a link on the Joy Chocolates webpage when I have it...so no fear of missing out! The second, and also happening his week is very first Farmer's Market of the season is happening in Great Falls on Saturday 6/4!

With these two big events, Melody and I have been working on our various social media pages for Joy Chocolates (find us on Facebook and Instagram) as well as putting some polish to yee 'ol website. All seem to be decently functional and <hopefully> minimally disappointing.

Come find me in Great Falls on Saturday morning!!!

5/25/2022

Our first meeting for the Cut Bank Farmer's Market is this afternoon. Some of nervousness I was feeling over the last couple weeks is starting to subside as things start moving. Right now, its just time to take it easy, and enjoy a little time off.

As it turns out, I never really stop...right now Melody and I are currently in the thick of some relatively big home improvements. The good news is that some of these home improvements are clearing the way for constructing "The Joy Chocolates Chocolate Factory." We'll be framing up a workshop, complete with heating and AC, electric, and eventually plumbing...just a separate and controlled space for Joy Chocolates to call home for this second phase of my little adventure. With our very own manufacturing space, ultimately we'll be starting to push Joy Chocolate toward manufacturing in our very own certified commercial kitchen. Once built and functional, of course the new certification will have to come later, but with a little luck, Joy Chocolates will be moved into its new home before the cold weather hits in 2022.

5/20/2022

Ahh, the calm before the storm...

Communications and coordination with various farmers markets are starting to pour in. Where ever I turn, there's a great group of people that just what to have a little fun at a Farmer's Market...honestly it leaves me pretty speechless. When I look back and put this into contrast to my past work experiences, it brings a tear to the eye.

Its been an interesting adventure so far, and I can't wait to see if this is going to be successful or not...I'm both nervous and excited!

Additionally, just got word the our article in the New York Times will be published on June 1st, 2022. In the spirit of "no press is bad press," I suppose this is going to be a good thing, but I'm not sure that I fully comprehend what may or may not happen. I'll link the article once published.

Buckle up! S'gonna be a bumpy ride!!

5/10/2022

I'm getting nervous...the season is starting soon!

Looks like we've made the cut for the Great Falls Farmer's Markets on Saturdays. This is exciting news, since Great Falls is the BIG ONE in the area. Granted, its about an hour or so drive for me on a Saturday morning, but it'll be worth it. I'll have to break into a Going to the Sun (70% dark w/ Coffee) to take the edge off the brisk Montana morning. I'll probably be in a rotation with a few of the other new vendors, but I'll try to broadcast the weeks I'm there as best I can. The weekends I'm not in Great Falls, I'll likely be in Choteau, so look for me there if you can't find me in Great Falls.

Melody and I just got back from a weekend of camping out in Yellowstone in some chilly temperatures..."chilly" is of course a relative term for folks traveling from somewhere other than Cut Bank. Regardless, we're home and ready to get back into it! I have another big week of manufacturing planned. After some taste testing (Thanks to my friends at the Montana State Library, during their Staff Retreat), it turns out the Chimney Rock (75% dark with Himalayan salt) was definitely a crowd favorite, in addition to being one of Joy Chocolates' original chocolate bars. So I'll be grinding up a big... <no bigger!> ...BIG batch of the 75% dark, which will go half into the Old Spanish Trail (75% dark w/o any bells and whistles) as well as the Chimney Rock. This coming weekend, I'll also be starting on a bigger batch of the Hi-Line (55% Milk), simply because I know that one is going to be a popular one. After all, its pretty tasty...darker than most milk chocolates. Sweet, but not too sweet, while highlighting the creaminess of a great milk chocolate.

5/5/2022 <BONUS UPDATE>

Just a quick bonus update, we're confirmed now with the Choteau Farmer's Market...but a little more interesting, is that I just got interviewed by the New York Times, primarily with regards to Melody and I being part of the Great Resignation, however the conversation swung significantly toward Joy Chocolates at the end! Exciting stuff! ...if you are out of state, unfortunately, I can't sell to you just yet, but if you happen to be in the area, swing on by or shoot me an email and we'll see what we can do for ya! I also spoke with my IT Specialist/wife (Melody), and we'll be looking adding a mailing list to the website if you happen to be interested.

Should be an exciting year!

5/5/2022

The cold is finally starting to fade...must be vacation time. Melody and I are heading down to Yellowstone for a little R&R. and then I'm back to work work!

We've confirmed our spots for Cut Bank Farmer's Market, Conrad's Farmer's Market, and the People's Market (Bison Creek Ranch) in East Glacier. Still waiting to hear back from Shelby and Choteau...but once that gets worked out, that will be the official Joy Chocolates 2022 circuit. Most of these markets start in June, so we're still a little ways out...but for the time being, don't be shy, just shoot me an email and request a delivery if you're in Cut Bank, Valier, or Shleby areas.

Also a special thanks to Bobbi D! She is officially my first sale in Montana!!!

4/29/2022

Yea, we're ready to go! Just finished signing my new insurance policy and our credit card reader just arrived. All things are a go for launch! Wait, there's more! We just finished our application for the Conrad, MT Farmer's Market. Reaching out to a few more is already in the works, but I'm hoping to be available in the area on a Tuesday - Saturday schedule.

But wait, there's more! Since Joy Chocolates now has the green light for sales, if you want some chocolate...and happen to be in either Shelby or Cut Bank, shoot me an email and I'll drive it on over. Pricing and whatnot will be available later today!

4/22/2022

S'been a little while!

The Going to the Sun went so well, I opted to make another batch...a bigger batch...a much bigger batch (to compensate for all that I'm eating). This stuff is really good!

Also whipped up a batch of The Cut Bank (60% dark) and the our original bar, the Old Spanish Trail (75% dark).

The adventure continues!!!

4/11/2022

The the Going to the Sun (70% dark with coffee) turned out fantastic! ...but I have to admit I was a little concerned that it wouldn't mold properly. My worries were not realized and everything went quite smoothly, I'm happy to say. I'm going to be starting another LARGE batch in the next few days, since I'm getting the feeling that Going to the Sun is going to be my Montana best seller!

After the smooth sailing with Going to the Sun, I opted for something a little trickier with our next batch: The Hi-Line (55% milk chocolate)! I know what you're thinking., "everyone has a milk chocolate, WTH?" I know...I know...but i wouldn't be giving you something special, unless I made it a little special. Its all in the ingredients, the kind of milk powders chosen and the concentrations of each. I'm not going to give up any secrets, but so far its turning out amazing! Ultimately, The Hi-Line will be the end product of a lot of work I started back in Houston...unfortunately, the Houstonians never got the chance to try it. You montanans are gonna be spoiled!

Just an aside about The Hi-Line and St Emanuel (which are Joy Chocolates' milk chocolates), they're actually still pretty dark for a milk chocolate. Most commodity chocolate makes use about 35-45% cacao in their milk chocolate, and 50-60% cacao in their dark chocolate...Joy Chocolates' Milk Chocolate and Malted Milk Chocolate are 55% cacao. That's really dark for a Milk Chocolate! So what does that mean? It means that you're still going to get a super rich and creamy milk chocolate bar, but it's not nearly as sweet as everyone else's...perfect for the sophisticated and/or discriminating pallet to enjoy.

On deck (in addition to a big batch of Going to the Sun), I'm going to finally take on my white whale: The Mighty Mo (75% dark chocolate with molasses). This one was a fighter. Again, this is one that I worked on back in Houston and it never got it to worked out properly...as you'd probably expect, it was too thick and was just a pain to mold into bars. It always tasted fantastic, but it was just too challenging to make, so it never launched. This time is going to be different. I've learned a few tricks and I think my new molasses recipe is ready to go! The Mighty Mo...coming soon to a Farmer's Market near you!!!

4/7/2022

Just a small update for today. The paper for our Glacier (75% dark chocolate with Peppermint) came in...an icy blue, fit for the chilling flavor. I'll be wrapping those today.

We're also through day one of our refining our very first batch of Going to the Sun (70% dark chocolate with Coffee). What to say about this? When Melody tried it for the first time she screamed and ran away. After composing herself, she returned to let me know that Going to the Sun was her new favorite! I can confirm, its pretty bonkers good!

Additionally, also worked out several of our Quality Management System procedures over the last couple days...but I'm not here to bore you with bureaucracy...just know that the systems and controls are coming along nicely!

4/3/2022

Our batches of St Emanuel and Glacier bars turned out great! The peppermint in the Glacier bars is subtle but a fantastic compliment to the the 75% dark chocolate. St Emanuel (55% malted milk chocolate), well...lets just say, its unbelievable! I just hope that I can control myself and not eat it all before making it to market. Prepping the wrappers right now!

Up next is Going to the Sun (70% dark chocolate with coffee). This is another new one...we're going to actually grind the coffee directly in with the Cocoa liqueur, should be an interesting take. Our inspiration for this chocolate coffee bar came from Brian Langerstrom, with his flour-less chocolate cake recipe. We had the opportunity to whip together one of these flour-less chocolate cakes the other night using our Old Spanish Trail (75% dark chocolate). Lets just say it was bonkers! ...and I'm just hoping to capture some of that awesomeness in the new Going to the Sun bar. Link to the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bp2XJn5AQs&t=385s

Last little update for today, our business license arrived today. All our legal paperwork is in place, all that's left is to finalize our insurance. Almost ready for blast off!

3/31/2022

Very exciting day!

We're starting our very first batch of Glacier (which is 75% dark with peppermint)...and good lord, the house is overwhelmed with the smell of peppermint. This is a brand new flavor, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that its not too overpowering in chocolate format. Just so you know, this flavor is so new, we don't even have wrapper paper for it yet...s'gonna be an icy light blue, which of course is lighter than our St Emanuel blue.

St Emanuel is still refining away, added our malted milk powder just this morning. This isn't actually a new flavor for us, we made this back in Houston, and it's fantastic. Very excited about getting this first batch made up and letting people give it a try. One of my personal favorites.

3/30/2022

Our first batch of St Emanuel is in the melanger as I write this! St Emanuel is a 55% Malted Milk Chocolate...by the way 55% is actually pretty dark for a milk chocolate, but the special thing about this particular chocolate is our malt flavor. I have looked and looked for good malted milk chocolate bars that really captures that classic malted milkshake flavor, but they've all let me down. I'm relatively convinced that if Joy Chocolates becomes a big success, St Emanuel will be leading the way. Its amazing.

Additionally, all of my state and city registrations are submitted and paid, just waiting for the official documentation to be returned. The plan is to make lots and lots of chocolate through the end of April 2022 to build up inventory, them I'm off to the farmer's markets! Right now the plan is to alternate between Great Falls and Kalispell for most Saturdays, Stay in Cut Bank on Wednesdays, and I understand that East Glacier has a decent Thursday and Friday market. Of course this is tentative, my presence/absence at any of these markets will be at the whims of supply and demand.

3/26/2022

Yea...still a long road ahead. The good news is that we are making some baby steps toward our goal. The Website is now up and running, printing capability is back up, all wrappers and labels are updated, all wrappers and labels are proofed, it feels like we have the right names for our chocolate bars, and we're putting together our Quality Management System.

For those of you who aren't familiar, my background is predominately process engineering and quality engineering....both of which have lead me to where I am today. A Quality Management System, is a little something I learned during my days focused on Quality. Its a collection of procedures and forms that defines/controls what you're doing throughout the process, keeps track of process parameters and ingredients as you're using them in your process, and also provides reference...just in case you've forgotten something. Its definitely overkill for where I am right now, however its a really good tool for legal issues, insurance purposes, and controlling growth. Ultimately, it also provides assurance that I'm doing everything in my power to make sure my customers are happy!