Auckland CBD-based milk-and-cookie shop Moustache recently made the leap into online retail recently to grow its fledgling brand. Eugene Tuigamala asked owner Deanna Yang, 23, how it's fuelling a big dream for the little shop of treats with a difference.
So why cookies?
When I was a child we didn’t grow up with very much money so Mum would always do a lot of home baking for us and my favourite was the humble milk and cookies. I wrote on my bucket list that one day I wanted to open a cookie shop. Half way through my Bachelor of Communication Studies I realised it wasn’t quite the career path so I developed my childhood dream concept a bit more and started Moustache in 2012.
Was it hard jumping from journalism to baking?
I didn’t have any of the necessary skills to run this business – I came from a low income family, never studied business, didn’t know how to bake. Because I didn’t have the right skills, it meant I had to dive right in and find out how - ringing up Auckland Council to know the compliances - and by Google and in the last three years I have learned more than I’ve learned in all my years in institutionalised education. When I started we only make 30 cookies at a time. Now we have really taken the concept on board and are making around 400 to 500 cookies at a time – I guess you can see how far we have come.
Why did you want to get into online food retail?
It’s important to be real and authentic – that’s what people want to get behind. In New Zealand we love small business and getting behind that – we are a small business that virtually came from nothing and people have gotten behind that. So when I thought of Moustache, I didn’t think it would be one shop that I would have for the rest of my life - I always thought global, online and multiple stores. I grew up in the 1990s so the internet, social media and new media is all relative to me in terms of being a first point of contact. I asked myself, 'how do I contact my customers and then the website was a no brainer.
Have you seen much change in the business now you're selling online?
The online site has opened up a new market for those such as corporate companies who wouldn’t come into the store for lunches or catering. There has been a surge in demand for giant cookies or cookie cakes and bulk orders that we wouldn’t usually see in the store as they would usually take time to prep them. With it being a very young business, the main challenge has been to juggle work and personal life. I do the baking, the accounting, I manage the staff and rosters and payroll, the social media and everything – you don’t really have a life. I work 80 to 100 hours per week - it's my baby and it has a lot of value and depth to me.