Realising the power of plant-based
Olivia Scott discovered her love for raw food when she was living a typical university lifestyle in Wellington, New Zealand. When she noticed that her unhealthy diet was making her feel lethargic and sluggish, Olivia decided to make a drastic change.
Understanding how what you eat impacts how you feel, Olivia switched from late-night parties and fast food to a raw, plant-based diet. And the change in how she felt was immediate: waking up full of energy, with healthier skin, and a clear head.
The experience was enough to get her thinking seriously about raw food and its impact on health. She explains how she learnt a lot from her grandmother, who built her own house on an island in the Hauraki Gulf, had solar panels on her roof and made everything from her garden.
“She taught me that you can heal yourself through nature,” says Olivia. “She grew her own herbs and made tinctures for herself. I learnt a lot about living off the earth and that food is medicine.”
Paying her way in homemade bliss balls, Olivia started working at night in a borrowed kitchen.
Putting knowledge into practice
As time went on, Olivia became more passionate about the nutritional side of her diet and wondered if there was a way to make money from it. “I saw there was a gap in the market and no one was doing what I wanted as a customer,” says Olivia. “A sweet treat that was healthy and nourishing but you could feel kind of excited about.”
Once enrolled in a full-time diploma in nutrition at Wellpark College in Auckland, Olivia began learning more about the ins and outs of healthy eating. Meanwhile, at night, she worked in a borrowed kitchen, paying her way in homemade bliss balls and selling her custom-made raw cakes online.
“After I’d been studying all day, I’d go to the kitchen at night time to create the cakes with my suitcase full of ingredients,” says Olivia. “Orders would come in on the website during the day and I’d spend five or six hours a night making the cakes.”
Putting everything into the business
Olivia made the transition from selling online to selling in person, setting up a regular weekend market stall. This gave her the boost she needed to get the business going.
“I sold a lot on Saturdays and Sundays there,” says Olivia. “It was a great atmosphere, and I loved seeing people eating the cakes. From there, I decided I really wanted to have a cafe so I could grow the business, have a bigger range of products, and create an in-store experience.”
To build her business, Olivia began driving the earnings from her market stall directly into her savings. By 2015, she'd saved up enough to invest in her first shop.
The success of The Raw Kitchen was a clear sign to Olivia that she'd tapped into an idea that really resonated with people. And she’s embraced the opportunities to build relationships with her local community.
“I love talking to customers, whether it’s selling them coffee or talking about products.” says Olivia. “The creative aspect of the food, the brand and the whole experience is what I love.”
Embracing the aspirational lifestyle brand of The Raw Kitchen, Olivia has been focusing on growing the business’ online presence. With over 50,000 followers on Instagram, Olivia is showing the world how cakes, doughnuts and sweet treats can be gluten free, dairy free, vegan and delicious.
Growing the business
In 2016, Olivia moved The Raw Kitchen to the centre of Auckland. This gave her the city presence she needed to expand the clientele and ensure the business would continue to grow.
And at the same time as opening her new store, Olivia decided to diversify her product range. Publishing her first cookery book in 2016 and branching out into a range of juice cleanses has given Olivia a global reach through The Raw Kitchen online shop.
Expanding to a second shop wasn’t far behind. Olivia opened another city store in 2017 – and she isn’t planning on stopping there, with plans to open a few more locations in the next couple of years.
As a small, fast-growing business, the ability to be agile and responsive to customer demand has been essential. Olivia discovered early on that she needed a better way to invoice the wholesale customers and cafes around Auckland, so she approached her dad for advice.
“He used Xero. He said it was really affordable, really slick and I’d really need it, ” says Olivia. “It felt expensive to me at the time, but there was a free trial and it changed everything. I could keep track of what I was selling and I liked how professional it made the business look.”
Getting on board with Xero early on was fundamental to understanding the business potential of The Raw Kitchen. “Xero really helped me see trends and patterns that I wouldn’t have otherwise seen,” says Olivia. “So I was able to see how the business was tracking and areas we needed to improve on.”
Being able to see what was working and what wasn’t meant Olivia could make quick adjustments in the early stages of the business, which was crucial in helping the business grow. And working with her accountant has allowed Olivia to get a proper understanding of how the business is performing.
“My accountant’s been really good with helping me set things up properly,” says Olivia. “They jump online from their end and pull out information that I wouldn’t be able to see and they tie it all together.”
Using Vend, point-of-sale software that integrates with Xero, Olivia and her accountant are able to correlate itemised sales with overall business trends. “Xero has been huge in helping me realise the potential of the business,” says Olivia. “It’s helped me to see areas of the business that are functioning well which has given me the confidence to grow it.” And Olivia will be using this confidence and insight to grow and develop over the next few years.
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