Some people stumble into their own business. Some people are pushed.
“The week or so after launching Bake Mixes, my position was made redundant, effective immediately,” explains Genevieve Le Hunt, founder of organic and vegan-friendly baking mixes company Bake Mixes. “I literally walked out of the office that afternoon and was forced into full-time entrepreneurship, which is the best thing that has ever happened to me.”
Of course her journey to business owner didn’t really begin here – it was a culmination of an unfulfilling career that left the young entrepreneur at odds with her true passion. From eight years at university completing a Bachelor of International Studies, Honours in International Relations, Master of Communications, Genevieve got the sense she was stalling whilst trying to find a job that “fit”.
“I felt so much pressure to build a successful career, but really didn’t know what I wanted to do, that I just kept going back to uni because I thought that would help me figure it out.”
It was a full-time role in public relations developing her love of building relationships and pitching PR strategies that left Genevieve with no choice but to launch the side hustle she’d be working on in her spare time (and the one that landed her a winning spot in our Lexus Start-up Competition).
“The very first move I made, before even coming up with a business name, was taking out a credit card, and booking myself into a healthy-living expo to launch the brand,” she tells us. “This gave me a concrete date that I needed to have everything sorted by, and really kicked my butt into action. I then committed 1,200 mixes to a subscription box – again, before I had a business name, packaging or even flavours, which I knew would be a great way to get my products directly into the hands of my target demographic.”
It’s this same “less talk, more action” attitude that has since served Genevieve particularly well when roadblocks – thick and fast – have presented themselves on her path since launching the brand in 2014.
“One particular day in December 2015, within six hours I received three phone calls: one to tell me that my packaging didn’t make it onto the boat to Australia and I wouldn’t have any packaging in time for Christmas; one to tell me that the hundreds of kilos of chocolate chips that I had ordered to be imported [were] sent over as chocolate blocks and couldn’t be used; and the final call from my contract manufacturers to tell me (during a run of more than 5,000 mixes) that the food manager had walked out and they would no longer be producing food products.
“When serious things like this happen, I give myself an evening to really just take in the situation, have a cry, feel all of the feelings that are coming up, sleep on it, and then in the next morning I feel much more capable of handling the situation.”
And while Genevieve is consistently dedicated to learning to better her business (she’s taken short courses in areas as broad as design and nutrition to prop up her skills), there’s one area of entrepreneur education she’s still trying to teach herself.
“I often second guess myself,” she says of her biggest challenge. “Why should people buy my products? Why should manufacturers want to work with me? Why would people want to hear me speak at events? I think particularly as a female business owner under 30, I struggle with feeling professional and experienced enough. You really need to have your own back when times get hard, and that is a work in progress for me.”
Despite disappointing December phone calls and the occasional bout of imposter syndrome, the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to being her own boss with a business she loves. It’s allowed her to contribute to causes she cares about (3 per cent of sales from her Bake Mixes Kids range are donated to Very Special Kids charity for terminally ill children) and also, to know she’s impacting people on a daily basis.
“To see photos of my customers in the kitchen, using my products to make themselves and their families healthy food, which then makes them feel empowered and excited about what they are eating, that for me makes every missed social event and every dollar that I have had to scrape together just to pay rent, absolutely worth it.”