A perfect example of taking that MASSIVE step from pottering along in a career in the corporate world to owning your own business, working with people you love and enjoying every minute. Brooke glows with joy every time she talks about her business, the dedication, support and inspiration she represents is so transparent. For anyone who is considering taking that step or slightly interested in business, this career profile is for you.
Brooke Vella, Business Owner, Nuts about Food
Brief description of your role:
I manage our retail shop. This involves running the day-to-day operations such as liaising with reps, product management, including ordering, receiving, price changes, maintaining stock, sales and promoting and marketing the business. I also help in the packing room when we have a build-up of wholesale orders.
So… what do you actually do?
Every day can be so different in retail and it’s difficult to put my day in an hour by hour format but in a ‘nutshell’ – I get up at 6:30am and after a nice warm shower I prepare a nutri-bullet for breakfast and catch up on some Sunrise before getting ready. Working with family, I get to travel to work every day with my gorgeous husband, Adam. The ride in to work always involves listening to music and some ‘great’ singing – hehe (yep even hubby gets in to it)! We arrive at the shop at 8am and set up for the day. After everything is set up we usually have 15 minutes to spare before we open so I enjoy a cuppa and check my emails at my desk. Once we open at 9am it’s pretty much full on from there. My day is spent providing customers with all their service needs, answering any customer queries & phone calls, processing orders, ensuring stock levels are maintained, merchandising and organising displays, and promoting new products on social media. My parents are based in the packing room, Adam is either roasting nuts or out on the road delivering wholesale orders so some days it’s very hard to stop for a lunch break. I always make sure I make some healthy raw protein balls, energy bars or bring lots of fruit to work to snack on throughout the day to keep me going. Now that we are so recognised in Adelaide, it’s a full on day from open to close. We close at 5pm, once we have closed we have a quick chat about our day and if there are any issues that we need to discuss. After that it’s the general end of day duties such as counting the register, tidying up, and packing up. Most days we are out the door by 5:30pm. On the way home, Adam and I chat about our day and it’s always the ‘What’s for dinner tonight’ discussion. We arrive home just before 6pm and are greeted by two fluffy children who are always excited to see us at the end of the day and are ready for their walk. Once we come home from talking the dogs for a walk, we start on dinner. My nights are usually pretty full on because I make raw boost bars to sell in store too, so it’s a matter of cleaning up after dinner, making my boost bars and either going to Pilates or catching up on my favourite TV shows. Time on the couch with hubby and the puppies is my ‘wine’ down time – yes usually with a glass of red. I crawl in to bed between 10pm-11pm before it all starts again.
How did you get to your position of being a Business Owner?
My Dad has been in the Almond industry for 28 years. A year or so after I met Adam, he started working with Dad in his importing business. After a few years importing, it was Adam’s idea that we should look at opening up our own shop. At the time Adam and I were planning our wedding and the idea of opening a business was scary and also very overwhelming (as if a wedding wasn’t enough). After a lot of discussion with my Parents we decided to jump in and do it, what was the worst that could happen? It doesn’t work out? It was January 2012 when we decided to open up a shop, we got married in March 2012 and in April 2012 our shop officially opened, so it was only 3 months of planning (insane I know). When we first opened in early April 2012 I was the only one not working in the shop. I was working as a PA for an engineering company. I hadn’t been happy in my PA job for a while and once we opened the shop I was addicted to it. I would work my Monday to Friday job and then I would be at the shop on a Saturday to help out. As soon as I left the shop, I missed it. I wanted to be a part of it every day, watch it grow, and be with my family on the journey. I loved our new business and all the hard work we had put in to it in such a small amount of time. The shop was so new and we had no idea on its future. Would this shop work? Will we still be here in 6 months? 12 months? We took the risk and I left my job at the end of May 2012 to come and work with my family. Although it was fun, we had to sacrifice a lot including our lifestyle and everyday luxuries as I wasn’t getting the pay I was as a PA but we were happy! We were living our dream. 2 ½ years on we have grown our range by over half from when we first opened, expanding more and more into organic & healthy eating. The journey has been crazy, busy, exciting and sometimes tiring as we work 6 days a week but I am loving every minute of it and I am just so thankful every day to be doing what I love. It’s so easy to get up in the mornings and go to work when you love what you do.
Have you always wanted to work in the retail industry?
Not really. I always remember wanting to be a hairdresser but after leaving school I studied a diploma in Beauty Therapy and worked in a salon in the Riverland for 5 years before moving to Adelaide and changing to corporate work. If you had told me a few years ago that I was going to own my own business with my family – I would of told you your crazy!
What do you love about your role?
I love educating customers and providing them with information on our products and recipes on healthy eating. I also love being in charge of my own life as a business owner.
In your current role, what has been your biggest achievement?
Being approached by a company with 40 + stores across SA & Vic to stock our products.
Over your career, what has been your ‘love this’ moment?
Probably when I made the decision to quit my job to give this business a real shot. I was usually a very organised person who didn’t take a lot of risks so it was a big deal at the time. The feeling was really unbelievably crazy, scary but exciting all at the same time. But I have never looked back.
What would be the least favourite aspect of your role?
I think anyone working in retail would say difficult customers, which can definitely test your patience. Also accounts, thank god my sister works for us in our accounts Dept now because I found that really stressful when I was in charge of it. In business you make money but you also owe money! Who came up with that idea? (wink wink)
Any advice for anyone aspiring to own their own business?
Starting a business is not easy but it takes determination and focus to do it. Make sure you have a plan, you have goals, be organised, and do everything with passion. Follow your dreams, if starting your own business has been your dream, make it happen. Enjoy life doing what you love most. If it’s your passion it will work out. It’s time to make that dream a reality