This the second in the series of posts profiling fabulous food businesses. These are fabulous businesses who are sharing their wisdom and experiences to help others get a flying start on creating their own food dreams. The first in the series featured Messy Faces.
Today, I am featuring Victoria Wein from Mueso Muesli. Unhappy with the muesli available at the supermarkets and wanting one without dried fruit, Victoria set to and created her own muesli, Mueso muesli. This muesli has no oils nor refined sugars. Instead, Victoria adds the flavor through ingredients such as caramelized figs, coconut sugar and coconut flakes, to create a great tasting muesli.
Victoria has always had a love of food. Growing up in Melbourne, Victoria spent time in the great Italian food destination of Lygon Street. But it wasn’t until she spent 6 months living in Italy that she experienced the way food could be so much part of everyday life and culture. She also has a love of business having grown up helping behind the till in her Father’s business.
Mueso Muesli is a part time business and Victoria works full time in PR, having completed a Bachelor of Communications.
How Victoria started her business.
The business developed from Victoria giving her muesli to friends and family. They loved the taste and the idea for the business was born. It took another 6 weeks to refine the recipe through tasting and testing, to get a final product ready to sell. Because of food labelling requirements, Victoria has to stick to this recipe and has set up systems using her computer and scales to help her measure out ingredients to ensure consistency is maintained.
Victoria then found other support by searching online. She found a great graphic designer who understood the requirements of producing a label that not only looked good but was also able to meet the requirements of food labelling. Finding support from businesses who have experience with the food industry can make a big different to ensuring you meet legislative requirements, as well as understanding the specific market.
One aspect that often deters new food businesses from starting up is complying with food safety requirements. Victoria took a positive attitude to this side of starting up and found that while it is quite a bit of work, it is a process and if you follow the process you can be successful. Victoria has successfully had her home kitchen certified and has now passed two further inspections. She has achieved this by following the rules and making sure she has an immaculate kitchen at all times – something she does naturally.
Of course starting a new business is not without its worries and Victoria shared that her main concern was that the product wouldn’t taste good. But she now realizes that not everyone is going to like her muesli and that she just needed to accept that.
Funding wise, Victoria has launched the business using her own money. She has not sought external funding and this has certainly helped keep the worries at bay as Victoria has not had to put everything on the line to get the business up and running. Victoria has clearly demonstrated you don’t need thousands to get your business off the ground and starting small can definitely have benefits. Victoria is working full time in PR and while this has limited the time she can spend on Mueso Muesli, it also provides a financial base to support her while her business grows.
Growing her business
Victoria has employed a few key strategies to grown her business. First off she is tracking her sales using Google analytics and monitoring who is a repeat customer. This enables Victoria to see where Mueso Muesli is selling and better understand who her customers are. As Mueso Muesli grows, she is able to keep these people in front of mind.
The second strategy has involved the use of social media. While Mueso Muesli is on facebook, Victoria has seen real success using Instagram. Mueso Muesli has over 700 followers on Instagram and if you are looking at setting up a food business go have a peek at Mueso Muesli on Instagram. The visual nature of Instagram along with the love foodies have for it, makes it a great tool to have in your marketing toolbox.
The other activity that Victoria has undertaken is collaborating with other like-minded businesses and her community. In Victoria’s case she has teamed up with The Little Box that Could, a fellow Melbourne business. Like Victoria, the founder of The Little Box that Could is keen to promote food businesses that are ethical and sustainable. Partnerships can be key to growing businesses but like Victoria has done, it is important to find businesses who share the same values as you.
In terms of community building, Victoria is keen to give back to the community in which she makes and sells. Victoria has engaged with her community on facebook to identify causes that are important to them as well as to her. While this side of the business is still under development, Victoria is looking at working with a charity for homeless people in some way. Options Victoria is considering are donating a percentage of each package or perhaps donating Mueso to a charity. Getting involved with your local community if done authentically can help your business grow as well as enabling you to give back to people who support you.
Plans for the future
Victoria is working on consolidating Mueso Muesli but is planning ahead to grow her business. She has plans to expand her business in a couple of way – through expanding where she sells and through expanding her product range. Markets are on the radar, not only to increase sales but to also increase exposure to her product to customers who may not find her online. Victoria is also looking at adding two more products to her range and appeal to a wider market including children.
As with all new businesses, time is a limiting factor in what Victoria can achieve, but planning ahead is key to achieving the goals for your business.
Advice for others setting up a food business
As part of this series, I am asking food business owners what advice they would give to others who want to start a business. Victoria’s advice is:
“Listen to your gut and give it a go. There are lots of obstacles but if it was easy everyone would do it.”
Finally a thank you to Victoria for making the time to talk to me. Support a small local food business by popping over to her website and treating yourself to some fabulous homemade muesli. You will also find some wonderful recipes to get creative in the kitchen with the muesli.