The career path that has led me to becoming a food entrepreneur has been anything but typical. It is a bit of a running joke between my friends and I that I was always doing something new every time they saw me, and I am sure my parents have prayed many times that I would settle down and stick to a job. But I never did.
Funnily enough, I have always had entrepreneurial blood in my veins. I remember one of my first creative ventures in the early ’90s was walking around the neighbourhood, knocking on doors, asking people what they wanted to buy, finding it somewhere and then selling it to them at enough of a profit to get myself something good from the tuck shop at school.
Fast forward almost 20 years and I had finished uni and gotten myself a part-time job working in public relations for an electronics start up. Whilst the job I was working in was a lot of fun, what really got me inspired was watching how a start-up worked and being part of its growth. I remember seeing the owners celebrating their wins and running the company the way they wanted to and I thought to myself, “I want this for me”. So I began working on what I thought would be my side hustle. I had always loved baking, and out of my group of girlfriends I am always the one who is nominated to bring a dessert to a BBQ.
But on the other hand, I had a growing interest in whole foods and cooking with new exciting ingredients I had never heard of before. Initially I had planned to bake up a bunch of healthy cakes and sell them at the local farmer’s market, but after doing that once and realising how early I had to get up, that idea was quickly shut down. It wasn’t until I was experimenting in the kitchen with a recipe that called for chia eggs, that something clicked in my mind.
I honestly could not be bothered with this step and I wasn’t even sure if the cake would taste any good. That little voice was loud and clear that day when I thought, “if I can’t be bothered baking this cake from scratch, surely other people can’t be bothered either”. So I began writing recipes that were straightforward to make, full of healthy ingredients that I knew would do my body some good and that I thought actually tasted good, not just “good for something that’s healthy”.
At this time I also reached out to some wellness based events and companies and committed myself and my then unnamed company to exhibit at their events (I tend to do things backwards!). I blended up the dry ingredients by hand in my parent’s kitchen, hand stamped some bags with the product name, put together a basic website, started an Instagram account and was ready for business!
My plan was to sell about 10 mixes a week at a local market or online and make myself about $150 a week extra to put into savings. Well someone in the universe must have a hilarious sense of humour, because just two weeks after launching Bake Mixes online, I was made redundant, effective immediately. Walking out of the office that afternoon was one of the scariest times in my life. I had no idea what I would do. But somehow, that was the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Looking back at the launch of my business, I have to say that the launch was the easiest part. As a small business owner who is completely inexperienced, I have come across my fair share of challenges. From dealing with dodgy manufacturers, being supplied with faulty goods, major cash flow problems and of course, having my products replicated by other start-ups, the last three years have tested my resolve more than I ever could have imagined. I have often had days where I would be ready to chuck it all in and jump on Seek.com to look for a stable job, but it must be my typical Capricorn stubbornness that won’t let me quit.
I have stared down the barrel of being on the brink of closure, final notices piling up, sales dwindling and what seems like a surge of competitors popping up, but somehow I have managed to make my way to the other side each time. And on that other side, is the reason I started this business to begin with.
Nothing makes me happier than to see my beautiful customers loving getting in the kitchen and feeling empowered to cook healthy treats for themselves. I love that I can provide easy options for people who may feel overwhelmed (just like I was) with this whole wellness industry that has exploded in the past few years. And more recently, being recognised as an industry disruptor is something I am really, really proud of.
Having been awarded the Collective Hub x Lexus start-up package in 2016, and now to be part of the first Australian Chobani Food Incubator Program (to help spread the mission of “better food for more people” and to be one of the companies to “take on the big guys”) I can now see, through all the doubt, perceived failures and sleepless nights, that I am on way to doing something big. Watch this space!