Tucked away in Hennessy Street, Croydon, Denin and Glen of Sydney's coolest cookie and cake shop Spoon & Fork, are busy getting their Mother's Day cookies prepared in time for the big day. We sat down with Denin back in May (yes it has taken us a while to publish) for a quick chat to talk all things cookies, how her business got off the ground and what her biggest challenges are running a small business.
Tell us about your business. What do you do?
Our main business is custom designed cookies and cakes for all occasions. We also run a small café selling cakes, pastries, sweets, tea and coffee, as well as a carefully curated gift ware section.
How did you get started with Spoon & Fork? Did you have a business plan lined up from the get go?
Our business started in 2010 with me making cookies from home, which I was posting on Facebook. This is where the business started to grow. Eventually, we outgrew the home kitchen and moved into a small studio within a florist in Croydon. After 18 months we moved a few doors down to bigger premises and in the last 12 months have expanded into the shop next door with a bigger kitchen space.
No, I didn’t have a business plan, and I still don’t!
Where do you get your inspirations from with your designs and concepts?
I take inspiration from anywhere really. Whenever I see anything I like, I am always thinking, ‘How can I cookie-fy, or cake-ify this’. It could be taken from fashion, or art. I like anything cute and pretty. My favourite designs are clean and simple with a touch of quirky.
What has been the biggest challenge in running the day to day operations?
Juggling business and family is always a struggle, making sure we have time to spend with our son. There are lots of weekends, early mornings and late nights in owning your own small business. There is always the pressure to come up with new and ‘now’ ideas. We always try to ensure we have new cookie designs for our holiday collections (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day) each year, as we have customers who return and buy from us each year.
How do you divide your time between running and growing your business and looking after your family?
My husband Glen left his day job in 2014, to join me at Spoon and Fork full time. This helps free up some time, as one of us can do the school drop off/pick up and after school activities, whilst the other is at the shop. We live close to the shop, which cuts out travel time for us both. We have multi-skilled staff, who can leave the kitchen and fill in on the cash register or coffee machine, to free Glen up for deliveries or to do things with our son.
What would be the one most valuable piece of advice you would give to individuals staring out with their own business?
Be persistent. Be unique. Find your own style and keep to what you are comfortable with. Don’t feel the pressure to be trendy, just be you, don’t try to be anyone else. Don’t try to keep up, or compare yourself or your success with those around you, by placing unrealistic expectations on yourself. I am still trying to learn myself, with the rise of social media, it can be hard not to compare yourself with others.
What has been the most rewarding part of owning your own business?
Being able to build something from the ground up. Some days I look back over the last 8 years and think, ‘Wow, look at what we have achieved!’. It makes all the hard work worthwhile, to see how far we have come.
As flower enthusiasts, we notice you incorporate flowers into your cakes and cookies. What is your favourite flower?
I do love David Austins, and tend to gravitate to them often for my cakes. I also use a combination of stock and snapdragons. The quirky side of me enjoys using fruits with florals, such as small apples, figs, kumquats, berries and peppercorn.