Hildy Abrams | Part I – Career Path, Blog 3

Moving Trupco into tableware: Starting Gourmet Settings

Abrams and Kadey worked tirelessly to conceive a product that would become Trupco’s staple. After 18 months of discussion, flatware was the clear choice.

“I had this notion that there was a lot of flatware on the market, but it was either really cheap and crappy or super expensive,” recounts Abrams. “There was nothing beautiful at a low price.”

The duo, along with another business partner literally cut into the opportunity. About two years after Abrams and Kadey first began working together they rebranded under the name Gourmet Settings.

Gourmet Settings’ flatware took off – selling to big-box retailers like Walmart and Target. “We did some extraordinary things at the beginning of the business,” Abrams declares.

She recalls an interaction with an industry magazine owner during a U.S. trade show. “He came to see us in Chicago or New Orleans, one of the trade shows at the time and said ‘I’ve been in this business forever and I just came from Target and saw you have four feet. I was at Walmart and saw you had eight feet – who the heck are you guys?’” Abrams chuckles.

Their flatware was “designed from the ground up.” according to Abrams. “It was designed to be beautiful, it was designed to work. It was manufactured at the highest quality for the price.”

Preliminary discussions with manufacturers were an interesting process for Abrams. She took many trips to Asia – Korea, Vietnam and China – to meet with them and discuss her vision.

“It was a real chicken and egg thing,” she remarks about her interactions with manufacturers. “We told them the price we needed and asked what they needed from us. They said, ‘Show us what you have and we’ll give you the right price.’ So it was a little back and forth until we finally nailed it.”

“They didn’t have the experience either, working in this particular way. I took a notable metallurgist from Sheffield, England with me and we worked through the whole process. Eventually we understood how to manufacture with the least amount of waste, so we could make the most flatware. “

Finding quality, affordable manufacturing was Gourmet Settings’ first hurdle. Though, creating innovative packaging defined its business.

At the time, flatware came in flimsy cardboard boxes with straw packing the cutlery. It was not a well-presented product for consumers and companies did not handle flatware effectively. Gourmet Settings designed packaging to be punchy and attention grabbing. Customers could feel the flatware inside. It was a win-win for them and their retailers.

“Our success can be attributed to our attention to detail – and the thoughtfulness that went into every aspect of our work,” Abrams affirms. “The packaging was beautiful and bright and interruptive – nobody had done that before with flatware.”

Abrams managed to reimagine an industry through her expert foresight and a healthy dose of intuition. From a design concept to manufacturing process, the distribution to customer relations, Abrams’ dedication to detail and interpersonal awareness fueled Gourmet Settings’ growth.

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