Like any success story, good things take time and seeing your products stocked on supermarket shelves does not happen overnight.
Carolyn Creswell is undoubtedly Australia’s muesli queen, her muesli brand, Carman’s Fine Foods, is stocked at the two biggest supermarkets in the country, exports to more than 30 offshore markets and turns over annual sales of approximately $50 million.
But, this woman with drive is the first to tell anyone that her journey was not an easy one.
”People look at Carman’s now and think it’s been an overnight success, but it’s been 20 years, and a challenging 20 years,” the 38-year-old entrepreneur says. ”For the first 10 years I was literally trying to sell enough product to survive,” adds Creswell.
It all began for Creswell when she was in university working part-time at a muesli manufacturer in Melbourne. When the company explained to her that she might lose her job because the business was going to be sold, she pulled the funds together with another colleague and purchased the company for $1000, which for Creswell at the time was a very large amount of money.
Working together with colleague Manya van Aker, Carman’s was created by fusing together the two businesswomen’s first names – Carolyn and Manya. The muesli brand had its first big break in the late 1990s when it was stocked on its first Coles shelves and soon picked up to be sold in 20 outlets across Australia.
Today, Creswell isn’t the only muesli queen in supermarkets. Kate Weiss, founder of Table of Plenty, turned her dukkah spice blend and muesli range into a successful line of supermarket products.
After the birth of her first child, Weiss quit her corporate business job to focus on making her dukkah and muesli from home. She ran the business from her home for six years before she won a contract with Woolworths. Today, Table of Plenty muesli is stocked in Woolworths, while the dukkah products reside on the Coles shelves.
Table of Plenty turns over approximately $10 million in annual sales and Weiss plans to double that over the next year. The company currently has 18 products in total with dukkahs, mueslis and snacks, and more in the pipeline.
In October 2014, Kate Weiss won the Business Owner category in the Victorian Telstra Business Women’s Awards, which recognises inspirational businesswomen in Australia. She then went on to win Business Owner overall at the National Telstra Business Women’s Awards in November.
So what can we expect from the supermarket queens in the future? While Weiss vows to double her business and be at the forefront of her predicted healthy food revolution in the future, Creswell has plans to expand into other supermarket aisles.
”We’re looking at whole new ranges, going into different aisles.” The company might go into baking, she says. ”Whether there’s Carman’s bread … we’re still finalising which areas they will be.” Looks like we will just have to wait and see.
Image Credit: Image of Carolyn Creswell in BRW Magazine
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