Mamamia is supporting women who are running their own race with #ladystartup . Meet the faces behind the businesses we’re celebrating…
Cass Spies started Twisted in the Summer of 2009. She had seen the frozen yoghurt phenomenon in the USA and had always been inspired by what Janine Allis did with Boost Juice.
So, given her background as a food technologist and a mother of three always looking for healthy alternatives for her kids, she set out to create a healthy alternative to ice cream.
Her goal was to create an all Australian product that was all natural, gluten-free and used only local ingredients.
Read her interview with Mamamia.
What is Twisted?
Twisted is an Australian frozen yoghurt company that provides a healthy alternative to ice cream using natural ingredients. The business grew to having five locations, but we saw that people liked to take our tubs home to enjoy in the comfort of their own homes.
This is where our take home tub range was born, working with Harris Farm Markets in NSW as our first wholesale customer. Today, the business is 90% wholesale and manufacturing with just one retail outlet remaining.
Cass Spies. Image: supplied.
What were you doing before you went into business for yourself?
I was working as a project manager in investment banks based in London.
What made you want to start your own business?
I have always wanted to have my own business ever since I was a little girl. My father has always been an entrepreneur and he used to come home and talk about his day with mum over dinner each night. For me, Twisted is my creative outlet.
How did you come up with the name?
My family and friends and I liked that it has a cheeky context but mainly because we twist two complementary flavours together in each tub.
Describe the staff/ownership structure of Twisted.
Twisted is a family business and I am in a partnership with my father. He is not involved in the day to day operations of the business but more in a mentoring capacity.
Did you require investment to start your business?
Yes, my husband and I took money out of the family home to invest in the business in conjunction with an equal investment from my business partner.
What kind of advice did you get before you started?
You need to understand (in detail) what a cash flow forecast is as it is going to control your day to day activities. Get your head into the numbers or you will never have control over where your business is going.
What's the single best piece of advice you got?
This is going to take ten years, from my husband. And he was right. Starting a brand from scratch is a huge undertaking.
What's the one bit of advice you would give yourself if you were starting again?
There are going to be situations that you will face where you give it everything you've got - maybe more than you've got - and you still won't succeed. Please don't let this define your self-worth.
At Mamamia we have an expression "flearning" - failing and learning. What have been your biggest flearnings since you have started your business?
My biggest flearning is in the retail side of Twisted. We had a portfolio of stores where half the stores were making some money and the other half were losing a lot of money.
Myself and my team put their heart and soul into getting the retail concept right in terms of offering, operations, marketing, design and revenue generation. No matter what we did, how hard we worked, nothing seemed to make enough difference. Closing those stores that weren't working was a huge deal for me, because I felt like I failed. Now, when I look back and see the direction my business is going, I understand that I wouldn't have any of this without our stores or the journey we have been on from turning the business around.
What's the smartest thing you've done since starting Twisted?
Getting out of situations that were losing us money, as quickly as we could. Taking the emotion out of these decisions is hard, but essential.
Are there any pieces of technology or software, apps or systems that have made it easier to do what you do?
Excel. We always have everything on a spreadsheet.
What do you do when you're feeling like you're in a hole emotionally (or financially)?
Goal setting. Actually taking the time to set out my goals and reviewing each quarter has been a game changer for me in business and in my personal life. In those moments when I am not feeling like I'm on top of everything I like to revisit my goals and take the time to remind myself of what I have achieved.
Listen: Boost founder, Janine Allis, provides us with the best career advice. (Post continues after audio.)
How many hours a day do you work on your business? Has this changed?
On average ten hours a day. This changes throughout the year with the natural ebb and flow of business but this is generally how it runs. I have started to do an hour of work on a Sunday to set my week up and I am loving how that is making me feel on a Monday morning.
What are your non-negotiables?
Time with my kids each evening between 6pm and 8pm, clean eating during the week and exercising three or four times a week. I am totally addicted to spin class at the moment and it's a huge stress reliever for me.
What's the biggest misconception you had about starting your business?
It's hard and it's relentless. But that's okay because I truly love what I do.
Tell us about your proudest moment.
Getting confirmation that we are going into 450 Woolworths supermarkets nationally! And also the day our Creamy Coconut Yoghurt got a mention in the New York Times. It was surreal and so exciting.
Who are the important people in your life?
I have an amazing husband who I have been with for nearly 20 years, and three kids aged nine, eight and four. These guys, plus my parents, two sisters and best friend are at the core of my life.
How much sleep do you get every night?
I try to get at least seven hours a night. I heard Arianna Huffington say that if she has trouble sleeping in the middle of the night she actively uses this time to focus on meditating and it seems to send her back to sleep. I have tried this over the last few weeks and it really works!
What can you recommend to women who might want to get their own hustle going?
If that woman has kids, I would say that you need to go in understanding that there will be big sacrifices that you need to make in terms of time spent with your kids. But if you truly love what you do, it will be more rewarding than you can even hope to imagine.
Do you have a mentor?
I have a number of mentors. My father who has been an entrepreneur for 50 years is a great source of advice and support and my husband who has been known to give me free consulting advice in the mornings when we are getting ready for work.
Since we're in the #LadyStartUp spirit, which Lady Start Ups do you recommend?
Bettie Confetti started by Andy Codina (who is my amazing sister) and based in London. She started a greeting card business off the side of her desk using Etsy as her platform. Fast forward three years and she is now running a full time business selling wholesale to retail outlets and has her own eCommerce website.
Up!Cycle spin studio in Potts Point run by Chantelle and her Partner, Kelly. They have started a rhythm riding studio and she runs 45 minute sessions in pitch black with music pumping and the stress and sweat literally dripping from every pore.