Tell us about yourself/your background:
Well I am 26, originally from Echuca. I moved to Bendigo 7 years ago for University and then never left. My background is retail, management and photography.
Are you a professional chef/cook?
No I’m not a trained/professional chef or cook. I’m just someone who absolutely loves cooking and food – it’s like oxygen to me, it’s my stress relief and my favourite thing to do.
I like a challenge! I saw them in a magazine a long time ago and decided to give them a go. They were a disaster! I took that as a personal challenge and it went from there.
Is this your full time job?
Yes, Flavour + Heart is my full time job – you get some very puzzled looks when you tell people you make macarons for a living!
Was it a risk to leave a ‘normal’ job and go into business as a sole trader?
I started Flavour + Heart in September 2015 and was only selling macarons from my stall at the Bendigo Moonlight Market. It was the end of November and only 3 markets later that I decided to leave my full time job and give Flavour + Heart everything I had. To say it was a massive risk is an understatement. There was no plan B, so I did everything in my power to make Flavour + Heart a success – failing wasn’t an option.
What made you decide to try out the weekend market circuit?
I applied for Moonlight Market on a whim thinking it could be fun and after the first market I knew it would be a great sales avenue for my business. Markets are one of the cost effective and best ways to get a product directly to the public.
How many markets a month are you currently doing?
I have 7 regular markets that I attend every month but I could do up to 10 or 12 markets per month plus orders.
Other than markets, where are you selling your product?
Flavour + Heart mini macarons are available at The Gallery Café every week and I am also about to launch a new venture with my beautiful florist friend Selina from Vogue Nature. Vogue Nature will soon have a macaron fridge which will be fully stocked with Flavour + Heart Macpacs, so when you buy your beautiful blooms you can also get some delicious macarons.
You have very clearly defined branding – from your graphic design and logo to your uniform. Who designed this?
I designed everything. I had a very clear idea of how I wanted everything to look and knew it had to be clean and very recognisable. Everyone always jokes with me at markets about how pink must be my favourite colour, its really not, it’s probably my least favourite colour! I just knew that it would be the perfect colour for my stall and business – it makes everything stand out and its super pretty.
What was your initial cost when setting up your business?
My initial set up cost was around $3000, this was for marquee, tables, stationary, signage etc. I was very determined that the appearance of my stall at my first market would be exactly how I had envisioned it, so I didn’t have to change anything for future markets. To this day I have only made very minor changes.
The cost of operating at a market certainly isn’t cheap – cost per site, cost of ingredients, staff wages – how do you make it viable/worthwhile?
I keep my costs down by doing pretty much everything myself, on average I work around 80 hours a week, sometimes doing 15-16 hour days to get everything ready. I’m a one women business – I do the advertising, prepping, shopping, accounting, organising, promoting and everything else in between on top of baking, packaging and selling. People really have no idea how much time and effort it takes to make something like this succeed. Lucky for me I absolutely love what I do and I don’t mind working ridiculous hours if it means success for my business.
Is it equally about promoting the Flavour + Heart brand so that people see you at the market and then find you on social media?
It was definitely about getting the Flavour + Heart brand out there. As a new business I thought it was very important that people not only got to know my product and brand but that they got to know me as well. I am incredibly lucky that I have two amazingly supportive parents and great friends who are happy to help me out when I need it.
What sales avenue (social media, in store stockists, markets) is your biggest revenue stream?
In the beginning markets where by far my biggest source of income, now 6 months in I am getting more and more orders and I’m about 50/50 with markets and customer orders. Most of these orders come through social media.
Have you been growing?
I cannot believe how quickly Flavour + Heart has grown in the space of 6 months. I have gone from making and selling around 500 macarons a month to anywhere between 600 to 1200 a week.
What triggers have you identified that have led to growth?
I think my most important trigger was and still is, getting people to identify with Flavour + Heart. By making it a memorable experience and taste, that way when people think macarons, they think Flavour + Heart.
Do you have any staff?
No actual staff just helpers who are happy to be paid in macarons.
What marketing do you currently do?
I mostly use Facebook and Instagram, both are just so easy and accessible to everyone.
I am also about to launch a website.
Are you comfortable in the social media sphere?
Haha no, no I’m not. I didn’t use any social media personally so it was a bit of a learning curve for me. I think I’ve got the hang of it now and my photography degree has definitely come in handy!
If you could ask a marketing professional one question, what would it be?
Are there any government or other grants out there to help small businesses like mine grow?
What is the most rewarding part of running your own business?
I am my own boss, I make every decision and I have complete control over my life. Choosing to go full time with Flavour + Heart was the scariest decision I have ever made but it lead to me being incredibly fulfilled and the happiest I have ever been. I wouldn’t change it for anything.
What is your vision for the future?
My ultimate goal is to own my own café. My café would be all about amazing coffee, delicious comfort food that makes you feel all good inside, and of course heaps of macarons!