Every successful businessperson can tell you the decision that helped them turn the corner. For me, that moment came at a time when I was almost ready to turn my back on the business in which I’d invested years of emotion, time, and money. I established my company Twisted Healthy Treats 11 years ago after my husband and I came back home to Australia to start our family. We’d lived in England for 13 years and I had a wonderful job as a global project manager for the investment banking industry. I had a great job and I loved it but, as wonderful as it was, I never had a deep passion about what I was doing.
For as long as I can remember, what I really wanted to do was run a business of my own. My father was, and still is, a serial entrepreneur and businessman. When I was growing up, business was always part of my life. We’d sit down at the dinner table and dad would talk to mum about what had happened in business that day. From that, sprang my dream of having something like that of my own.
We’d been back in Australia for about 18 months when one day I wanted to get my daughter a treat on a hot summer afternoon. She was just a toddler and I wanted something delicious, but I also wanted something healthy, too. I very clearly remember walking down the aisle in the supermarket to the freezer aisle and looking in vain for something I could give.
It was at that moment that I realised there was quite a wide space in the Australian market for a product that could fit that bill, a healthy, zero sugar, nutritious treat that kids, and maybe adults, would love. I’d seen products like that in the United States when we’d been there on holiday. My university degree is in food technology and at that moment I felt that the strands of my life had finally started to come together. This was my business idea and I set out to make it a reality.
I developed our first product, the twisted Healthy Treat yogurt. Our business model was based on the Boost Juice concept pioneered by another successful entrepreneur Janine Allis, who I admire greatly. I wanted to emulate her success and I established a network of stores across the country.
But it wasn’t a success. I lost lots of money. Some stores were making money, but others were losing money, a lot of money. The silver lining in that for us was that we noticed that lots of customers liked to take the products home to eat later as a dessert.
That gave us the idea for our first important transition in the business. We converted a room behind our store in Bondi beach to a cold room where we started to make the yogurt ourselves. It was basic but it passed all the requirements for NSW Food and other authorities and we were able to make up tubs of yogurt in the back of the shop. From that we began supplying the Harris Farm chain of grocery stores across Sydney, giving the business a springboard to another new direction.
As I said earlier, my inspiration for Twisted health treats came from a visit to the supermarket aisle. My best advice to other businesspeople would be to build a business you believe in and are passionate about.
Wellness has always been a part of our focus but at the same time I’m not a mother who says you can’t have treats, or you can’t have chocolate, or you can’t have ice cream. I’m someone who believes in balance. And it is fun to share a frozen treat with your kids. But I also believe that you should be able to do that without taking a toll on your health. And that is the reason I am in business.
Cass Spies, Founder, Twisted Healthy Treats