“I think in your first year this is the perfect time to take risks, try lots of different things and refine your product before you really decide where you sit in the market, before you worry about growing or scaling.”
— Brooke, Owner Brooki Bakehouse
You wouldn’t typically expect to find an NYC East Village meets french inspired patisserie style bakery on the streets of Brisbane, but that’s exactly what Brooke from Brooki Bakehouse envisioned when she dove into owning her own business — complete with deep terracotta walls, drool-worthy veined marble counters, and even gluten-free NYC style cookies.
Brooke has spent the past ten years globetrotting as a travel blogger. A profession that uniquely set her up to dive straight into business, which was a little scary. ‘Because I haven’t had the typical costs of living (like rent, electricity bills or internet) I’ve been fortunate enough to save a lot of money over this time. So in a literal sense, I funded my business with my savings and did not take out a loan or seek investment. Of course, this means you are placing a lot of trust in your capabilities and idea being a good one, but I think if you’re passionate about something you will always find a way to make it work.’
For any business owner looking to open a physical space, finding the right location is imperative to the success of your business and there are tick boxes unique to your offering that can sometimes be hard to fill. For Brooki Bakehouse, it was striking the balance between a location that would drive foot traffic, but also having access to parking for customers picking up their goods for collection. ‘The hardest decision and hurdle so far was to find the right location. If you choose an area with great foot traffic, you will pay a premium for rent. And on the flip side of that, high foot traffic areas usually mean on-street parking is more scarce, which was an important consideration for me given I sell mostly celebration cakes for collection’ Brooke says.
Brooki Bakehouse opened in May 2022, and in a short time has garnered a social community of more than 88,000 people. A snippet of the secret sauce behind their success? A multi-faceted skillset and being open to outsourcing where you need. Brooke has a background in social media and marketing, but even she admits there are limits on how much you can handle when it comes to managing a business. Brooke explains, ‘It definitely helps to have a background in social media and photography, as marketing is one of the more difficult and expensive sides to owning a business that business owners can often find challenging. My advice to anyone starting out would be to try doing this yourself, to begin with (as it will save a lot of money), but like anything, if you find it too difficult after you’ve given it a try, never be too proud to outsource the elements of business you don’t find enjoyable’.
It can be easy to jump into business head first and have tunnel vision toward scaling your business. Instead of focusing on growing from the get-go, Brooke has used her first year of business to experiment and see what resonates with her customers. She explains, ‘the focus hasn’t been too much on growth or scaling, as it has been on trying new things constantly to see what “sticks”. It has been a lot of fun to test the market and get feedback in real time. I think your first year is the perfect time to take risks, try lots of different things, and refine your product before you really decide where you sit in the market — then you can scale’.
Brooke has used Square since day one and says her customers regularly comment on how simple and slick it is. Brooke explains, ‘we live in such a fast-paced society, that no one wants a lengthy check-out process. I love how quick and easy Square is and how neat it looks on the front counter.’ Brooke also regularly checks her reports to measure which products are selling best and what hours are busiest. ‘You never know how successful your business is or where you need to make adjustments until you look at the numbers and understand exactly what you’re doing right and which areas you could improve in. Analytics allow us to analyse our busiest periods and make accurate decisions. We tried everything, 7 days a week, 5 days a week, opening on Sundays, you name it! Having access to analytics allowed us to make an informed decision on opening hours and staffing requirements for the new year’.
So, what’s next for Brooki Bakehouse? Brooke says ‘My aim is to move our production into a warehouse as soon as we outgrow the Fortitude Valley store, so we can service more of Queensland with cake deliveries and all of Australia with baked goods shipped directly to your door. The storefront will of course always remain a top priority, but I really view this store as the start of a much bigger journey. Here’s hoping!.’