Emily is founder of Bake It Box, a subscription service for DIY baking kits that contain pre-measured ingredients, tools, decorations, and instructions delivered to your doorstep. Emily’s goal is to inspire Australians of all ages and baking levels to have fun in the kitchen.

To open our breakfast, Emily talked about corporate life before starting her small business. She worked in business development in biotechnology, based in a startup environment in a big corporate institute. “I think that really sparked my interest in wanting to start a business from scratch and go out on my own,” Emily said.

The turning point came when she wanted to bake something for a housewarming party, but literally everything in her cupboard had expired. “That’s when the flashlight went on,” Emily shared. “I would really love to have a kit that only had what I needed. I could make that kit.”

She followed up that epiphany by doing nothing. “There was fear and doubt—it was too risky. I was working a good job with a good salary. I couldn’t even think of a business name.”

Emily could have made up excuses indefinitely. But she told herself to bite the bullet. In hindsight, she admits that she would have done things differently. As it was, she created the kit, launched her website, and listed a subscription sale on the OzBargain website. “I would not do that now,” she said. “I’d do research, work out pricing, and work out a forecast. I also wish I’d sought business help from the start.”

She freely admits that one of her biggest mistakes was investing a lot of money in something that didn’t pay off. “In my first year, I spent thousands of dollars to participate in an exhibition that was a complete flop. But I learned from that experience.”

The next step was to participate in Rocketseeder, an accelerator program focused on the food and agriculture industry. This changed everything for her. Prior to the program, Emily had spent a year working on her own. It was isolating with no one to talk to or bounce ideas off. “For me, Rocketseeder was lifechanging,” she said. “I was surrounded by other startups who were going through the same experience as me. Meeting other people who knew how I felt—that just changed everything.”

In 2018, Emily entered a competition run by the Small Business Festival and SBS Small Business Secrets. The winner had the opportunity to have their business showcased on television. “Within under half an hour of my business being on TV, I was bombarded by orders,” she said with a laugh. “I was like, oh my God, this is crazy! I’d never had so many orders in my life. It was a huge learning curve, particularly in being able to fill orders.”

The exposure boosted her business and Emily shared that she wouldn’t be where she is today without the support of local councils and government. She recommends startups go on the Business.gov.au website and utilise the resources and checklists available. “I don’t think that having a business background is critical to starting a business. There are so many resources out there to help.”

Emily uses social media for a lot of her marketing. “Social media is huge for food products. For Bake It Box, people like to share the kits that they baked themselves with friends and family. In doing so, that builds more awareness of my business.”

Looking forward, Emily spoke of creating kits that accommodate for gluten free and vegan customers. Expanding the range to open her business to a wider audience.

To close the breakfast, Emily shared that customer feedback is one of her favourite things. It drives her to keep her going. “I’m most inspired when my customers say, it’s something I never thought I could do.”