“The company started quite accidentally really,” says Megan Misso, Founder and MD of Sweet by Nature. After creating a really great chocolate chip cookie recipe, selling out batches at a local café, and then pitching a range of sweets to David Jones, Megan found herself in business, operating as The Genuine Cookie Company.
“The company was all about the cookie to begin with. We operated out of a rented shop in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, and set up a little café out the front. After some time though, the cakes became a central part of the range, so I decided that the name Sweet by Nature would cover a wider range of products. I changed the name in the early 90s,” says Megan.
Now the company has more than 150 product lines. While cookies are definitely still on the menu, the range has broadened to include award-winning macarons, muffins, slices, breads, pastries, cupcakes and decadent desserts. When the company moved to bigger premises in Heidelberg in 2005, they included space for a proper wedding cake design room, and the specialty cake business has grown from there. The team at Sweet by Nature now make bespoke cakes for all occasions.
Baked with love
When it comes to staying ahead of the competition, Megan says it’s the little things that count: “going the extra mile, using real ingredients and creating products that surprise and delight”. She has built her business on consistent quality, great customer service and having a product that people love. She explains, “You can spend all the money in the world marketing and selling an item, but if there’s no quality there, if there’s no heart, what’s the point?”
She adds that imitation is rife in the industry, so it’s important to innovate and differentiate the business from the competition. Creating new products and improving the existing offerings is an ongoing project at Sweet by Nature. Megan says the company regularly evaluates products, with a major re-evaluation of the entire range every second year.
It’s a team effort because Megan believes in taking a collaborative approach. She says, “The input, suggestions and the group effort of the team are all vital to our winning formula. We’ve created an atmosphere where staff can put their ideas forward and flourish in a supportive environment.”
Refining the winning recipe
Part of creating that environment was shaking up the business structure. About a year ago, a business analyst was hired to help put better company management systems in place. Megan is no longer heavily involved in every aspect of the business. Instead, she heads up marketing and product development, while others take care of HR, sales, production and finance. These developments have paid off, as the company is thriving and making products that Megan and her team are proud to produce.
The company has come a long way since the days when Megan was baking cookies in her home kitchen. Sweet by Nature is now a successful wholesale business, distributing products throughout Australia. And customers can also buy sweet treats directly via a number of channels including the popular Naturelover’s café, the specialty cake showroom or through its online store.
For Megan, the experience of growing the business has been extremely rewarding. “We can achieve what we dream. Now, I can sit back and say, ‘We did that’.”