Biggest mistake so far? Being too accommodating

September 5, 2017 by

I asked our kitchen customers about the biggest mistakes they’ve made since starting their food businesses, and as usual the crew shared with beautiful abandon. They’re awesome like that.

I’ll share some of their responses here over the next few weeks, because they’re spot-on learnings for all businesses in their infancies.

Below is the response is from Alphabet Cafe (Meghan & Zoe Tulleners), who’ve been with us from the start of Wandering Cooks. They’ve diversified from selling sweet goods through markets to making celebration cakes to wholesaling for a selection of Brisbane’s coolest bars and cafes. And they’ve experienced a HEAP along the way, including how to say no:

Megs said, “You might not know it by looking at our grumpy faces… but the biggest mistake we used to make and sometimes still do, is to be to accommodating. We used to be so uncomfortable saying no and wanted to please everyone that we nearly always said yes. This led to us straying from our path – baking things we didn’t want to, using ingredients we didn’t want to, working with or for people we didn’t respect. Now we’re hard arse motherf**kers who LOVE to say no. But really, we’ve just learnt to respect ourselves, our time and our decision to be proud owners of an ethical business.”

This is such a difficult lesson to learn, and we’ve seen it here again and again with our customers’ businesses, as well as our own.

One of the most difficult things Wandering Cooks needed to learn was to say no to prospective kitchen customers who didn’t share our values about ingredient sourcing. Because of this, there are many businesses using our kitchens that aren’t sourcing (for example) pastured reared animal products and in-season produce from smaller farmers who would benefit from all our support. But we’ve finally found our courage, and have started to say no to anyone wanting into our kitchens that can’t make some basic commitments to ethical sourcing.

Soon, we’ll be finding ways to incentivise all our existing kitchen customers to make the same commitments to sourcing ethically, as well. We have a plan! and you’ll be hearing more and more about it from us into the coming months. We weren’t brave enough to do this 4 years ago, but saying it now feels like coming home. And we’re proud to work with Alphabet Cafe, not just because they’re awesome individuals, but because they care about the same stuff we do. And when they do finally leave us for their own cafe (sniff! sniff!) home will be there, too. Love you two. x



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