You’re part of a close-knit family and co-own a business with your father, mother and sister. How do you think your family and upbringing have helped shape who you are today?
My mother and father have always been incredibly hard workers. They lead by example and have instilled in me a strong work ethic for which I will always be thankful. They adore food, wine and having a good time—all of which I have inherited (like it or not). We all love having a laugh and they both have a great sense of humour (they divorced 28 years ago and still own a business together, so they must have!).
We each have our areas of expertise and all work to our strengths (and hire where we have weaknesses) which I think has enabled us to get to where we are. There were quite a few difficult years while we were trying to get traction and plenty of lessons learned. The four of us have a very strong bond and respect for each other.
Did you always know you would eventually work in the food industry, or was there another career you’d imagined yourself doing when you were younger?
Growing up in restaurants and cafés, I always loved food but never thought I would have a future working in the field. I saw how hard the hospitality industry was for my parents, which, to be honest, was a massive deterrent to me. I worked in the fashion industry as a styling assistant, but the pull of the family business was very strong. I am so fortunate to work with the people who mean the most to me every day. It motivates me to work harder and strive for success. I love creating events at Blakes Feast and am very excited about our new business BLAKEAWAY.
Like so many, you pivoted during 2020 and introduced BLAKEAWAY to Melbourne, and later, to the Mornington Peninsula. How did BLAKEAWAY come to life?
On Friday 13 March 2020, all our events had been cancelled for the foreseeable future. The partners had a meeting and decided that we didn’t want to let any of our staff go. Ten years ago, we started making take-home meals during winter to help cash flow. This had remained in place (on a very small scale) through our hole-in-the-wall café at our head office in Glen Iris.
We decided there was an opportunity to expand on what we had been doing for years and that day we launched BLAKEAWAY. We went out to social media and had thousands of enquiries (and hundreds of orders) over our first weekend.
A week later, we moved to an online ordering platform. We opened our Portsea store in December 2020 and the response has been quite overwhelming. We continue to grow, improve and refine the business, and have plans to open another two stores in the next six months.
You’re behind the branding for both Blakes Feast and BLAKEAWAY—what have you found are the most important factors in building a successful brand?
Integrity, transparency and honesty. We created a very clear tone from the beginning which resonated with our clientele and is an extension of what we, as a family, stand for. For me it’s important to not look sideways or be distracted by what other businesses are doing. We have a clear picture of who we are, what we are doing and where we are going. I think this organically builds a strong brand.