10 Questions for ... Tahnee Walters
"It really has been the most incredible learning experience" ... Tahnee Walters.
1. How did the idea for Spotted Cow Cookies come about?
I have always had a great love of baking and at a young age was baking bits and pieces for whoever would take them! The idea that hatched Spotted Cow Cookies was to put a dessert ‘flavour’ into a cookie, this is where my first cookie, our ‘Sticky Date and Caramel’ hatched, and where the rest of the dessert range that we are doing now, was born. We currently have a range of 4 ‘dessert flavour’ cookies on our menu.
2. How did you turn an idea into a business?
I think initially it was just an ‘idea’ and evolved into a business as more and more customers came on board and started enjoying, and ordering the cookies, repeatedly! When I think back to the beginning of the business and how things have changed, it really has been the most incredible learning experience. I take on as much as I can through business coaching and reading although it has been the mistakes that I have made along the way that have been the biggest teachers.
3. What were you doing before Spotted Cow Cookies and what made you leave it behind?
I worked in hotels, restaurants and as a nanny. I always felt the urge to leave my mark on this world in some way and I knew it wasn’t doing any of the previously mentioned, although I adored the 2 boys I cared for. It was my love for baking that inspired me to do something, anything, with it.
4. How did you find joining a marketplace that is crowded with big names like Arnott’s? What make’s Spotted Cow Cookies different from other cookies?
I was told when I started the business that the market was saturated, but it wasn’t, at least not for the kind of cookies I made. I wanted to make cookies like the ones you would make at home, the cookies you made as a kid, the ones that most people don’t have time to make! My point of difference has always been the dessert flavoured cookies, the rest of the range we do has grown from this initial idea. The other big point of difference for me is our branding, our amazing designer just ‘gets’ me and the direction I want to head, we want to be different and quirky, we want to stand out from the crowd with not just beautiful cookies, but fun branding.
5. What kind of experiences do you feel you can get from your own business that you can't find in working for another company?
For me it is definitely about satisfaction and feeling inspired about what I do. After 9 years I am still incredibly proud when I see the cookies in a cafe or on an airline. The fact that I get to deal with a cookie from development of the flavour right through to the packaging is an amazing experience, I know when I send our cookies out that I have had a great deal of input into every stage of production...I love that kind of involvement, where else could this ever happen except for my own business?
6. Because it's your own business, how do you manage work time and personal time?
The first few years of the business it was always about whatever needed to be done had to be done, and I was the one that had to do it. Now that I have incredible people that I work with in the business, whom have come onboard as the business has grown, I am able to have the weekends off. I still think about the business all the time, I have had moments of inspiration come to me at 5am on a Saturday morning and I get up and write them down and will often think about them for the rest of the weekend, until I can share them with the team on Monday morning. I love those moments, I can get lost in them for hours sometimes.
7. Were there every times when you doubted what you were doing? How did you get through them?
I have definitely had moments of doubt, they have come when I’ve been tired and worn down by too many hours and not enough money. On the other hand, I have always known that this business would take off one day, I guess you would call it gut instinct and this is what has made me persevere. Often it is the ‘non believers’ that can cast doubt over what you are doing, in these moments I have made sure that I have called on people that I know believe in me and what I have created. It only takes a few encouraging words to get you back on track sometimes.
8. What job would you love to do/or start if you hadn’t started Spotted Cow Cookies?
I have a passion for any kind of design and a particular love for interiors and beautiful objects that have a story. I also have incredible admiration for people that create things, whether it be art or furniture. When I was in my twenties I had a dream to open a shop that promoted young designers and artists, and it is still something that I think about doing now, so you never know what else lies ahead. There is always room for something else that I have a passion for, I’m sure of it!
9. What does the future hold for Spotted Cow Cookies?
We are working hard on establishing ourselves nationally at the moment, as well as looking at opportunities overseas. I see Spotted Cow Cookies as not just another cookie company, but a business who’s branding is strong and respected, and most of all loved by people all over the world. We have a couple of projects that we are working on at the moment that no one else has thought of yet and we are really excited about these ventures. I know that as long as we look after the relationships we have with our customers, we can take this business anywhere and everywhere!
10. What would be your top tip for starting a successful venture?
Try and find at least one person to mentor you and guide you through the ups and downs, even if you get together every couple of months it’s great to have a knowledgeable sounding board. I still use business coaches in our business today because you can never learn too much, and it’s the best way to keep yourself on target towards your goals and dreams.