by Sonya Martin, Office of the NSW Small Business Commissioner.
As featured in The Country Web 2016 Annual.
Greg and Angie Wilton from Mullumbimby have cooked up a successful business creating delicious pastries, cakes, tarts, breads and savory delights.
“Keeping up with demand is our biggest problem,” Angie said. “We go to the farmers’ markets in Byron Bay and Mullumbimby and sell out every time without fail.”
“We could easily sell another 25 per cent but we can’t bake enough because we just don’t have the space.”
The Wilton’s started small five years ago and their wholesale bakery grew organically until they came to a fork in the road 18 months ago. They had to decide whether to continue down the wholesale path or follow Greg’s dream as a baker with a retail outlet.
“We take pride in what we do. If we had gone big with the wholesale business, we would have become more of a production line.
“By moving into retail instead we could keep our boutique, artisan approach. We wanted to be the ones who controlled how the product was displayed and treated.
“More importantly, we really cared about how our customers talked about the product. It was a no-brainer in the end.”
The Wilton’s made the decision to open Scratch Patisserie in Mullumbimby to maintain their ‘made from scratch, baked with love’ philosophy.
The shop opening coincided with the birth of their second child, a time Angie now describes as, “Crazy!”
Growing week-on-week is the worst small business problem to have, but growing has made Angie and Greg appreciate the importance of building structure into their business.
“We were feeling a bit overwhelmed. We felt like we weren’t managing the business as well as we could. We’ve never had a business plan, although we’ve attempted one many times and when we became responsible for eight staff we knew it was time for goals and more of a focus.”
The Small Biz Bus couldn’t have driven into Mullumbimby at a better time.
“I jumped on the bus six months ago to get some advice and see if someone could point us in the right direction.”
Firstly, Angie and Greg were connected to a local Small Biz Connect business advisor, Sam Tebbutt, who started helping them with a business plan.
“It was really practical advice. It also plugged us into another service the Office of the NSW Small Business Commissioner was offering— the Regional Activation Program.”
The Office of the NSW Small Business Commissioner launched the Regional Activation Program to better reach regional small businesses. The program achieves this aim by engaging with regional communities to activate small business opportunities through specialised programs, assistance and tools. After visiting each town participating in the program and working with key stakeholders, a series of workshops were developed.
Two workshops were held in Mullumbimby on topics local businesses felt would assist them the most—Visual Merchandising and Women in Business.
“I really liked the Visual Merchandising workshop. It came at a good time because we were developing a range of packaged products for our biscuits, jams, chutneys and relishes.
“The workshop took us through all the stuff we needed to know, like making sure labelling and packaging was perfect and targeted to our customers. Brian Ambler from Australian Retailers Association took the workshop and also came around the next day to give us advice specific to our display and setup.”
Following the workshops the Wilton’s took action.
“One piece of advice that really stuck was that we needed more of our logo image and colours around the shop to help us to get the brand message out. Now we have a great big plaque of our logo on the wall as you come in.
“Brian also made suggestions about signage, and we’re putting more under the awning on the street front. The idea is that people will see us out of the corner of their eye and be tempted to come in.”
As well as the suggestions, Angie said she really appreciated the confirmation of all the things Scratch Patisserie were doing right.
“It was great to get encouragement that we’re doing a good job. Brian said the place looked great.”
The Regional Activation Program also held a Women in Business workshop in Mullumbimby, which Angie also attended.
“I’ve made some good contacts and have already been able to do some business with a woman who runs food tours in the region.”
A quick glance at the pastries, cakes, tarts and tortes on Scratch Patisserie’s website leaves little doubt about why the business is growing. Greg and Angie continue to work with their Small Biz Connect advisor to plan and prepare for that growth.