When entrepreneur Anna Hopkins opened her Wholemeal Café a decade ago, little did she know the venture would spawn another successful business. One whose healthy products are popular with Australians everywhere.
The story begins with bread. It’s 2010, personal trainer and healthy food lover, Anna, has just opened the café of her dreams in Sydney’s Darlinghurst.
“While running between my two jobs, I started to notice that a lot of my clients and customers were switching their diets to low-carb,” Anna explains.
Reading up on the benefits of low-carb, Anna decided to switch too but soon baulked. While lunch and dinner were a snap, finding something to fulfil her peanut butter toast cravings proved difficult.
“I was really struggling with breakfast and snack options. Cooking bacon and eggs each morning wasn’t practical, not to mention the thought of eating another egg made me feel sick.”
She wasn’t alone. Chatting to customers and clients, Anna soon discovered for most, giving up bread was in the too hard basket.
“That got me thinking, could I create a bread that had just 1g of carbs per slice? If I could do this, this would be a miracle. It would be the lowest carb bread in Australia. And I would be able to enjoy my toast each morning whilst experiencing all the benefits of low carb eating – double win!
“Being the optimist that I am, I started researching ingredients straight away.”
Using her family as guinea pigs, Anna created her first recipe. It was a flax meal bread that her family voted a failure – describing the results as concrete pellets. Undeterred. Anna kept tweaking her recipe until finally, she made a bread she felt was worthy of serving to her customers.
Each morning the savvy home cook would rise early to bake the day’s bread supply for the café. The ‘Protein Bread’ proved so delicious that customers were calling for her to bake more. They wanted to take it home! Before too long, the demand for the bread was so high, Anna realised she needed to come up with a solution to meet needs.
“I worked with a contract baker for a little while before selling the cafe and opening my wholesale bakery. I was baking thousands of loaves of Protein Bread weekly and selling it to health food stores around the country,” says Anna.
“At the same time, we were offering our Protein Bread and Protein Pancake Mix online to customers around Australia through our company PBCo.”
In 2017, Anna says she made the tough decision to close the bakery and focus on the brand’s dry mix blending, opening a state-of-the-art facility in Marrickville.
“Closing down the part of the business, which is where it all began, and so many people loved was a hard decision. However, we were at a fork in the road and knew that we couldn’t be great at everything,” she tells KBB.
“I’m a firm believer in doing less and doing it better. Whilst we were operating a bakery and a dry blending facility, we were too stretched and not always achieving the standards that were important to our customers and me.”
While many businesses were doing it tough during COVID-19, Anna says as an e-Commerce based business, there were few repercussions for PBCo.
“We feel that we’re in quite a fortunate position. Being a food e-commerce business COVID hasn’t negatively affected us like it has for many. I believe everyone and every business has its seasons. This has been a hard season for many businesses, but spring will come. We experienced our winter differently from most but remember that everyone is on their journey. We really can’t compare, is a great thing to keep in mind and to help you stay focused on you,” she says.
PBCo’s online business is booming, and in 2020, they joined a select group of startups whose products feature on Amazon Launchpad. Anna says the reach of Amazon has been invaluable to her business.
“As an online business, joining Amazon Australia was an obvious step for us at PBCo,” says Anna. “While we take advantage of Fulfillment by Amazon – ensuring all orders are shipped and arrive immediately – for us, it was really about expanding our reach.
“We are excited about the future of working with Amazon in Australia and also the US. The benefits of being part of such a large and established channel are huge and can really assist with business growth.”
Anna is chuffed by just how far her PBCo has come over the past few years. She encourages other women considering going into business to leap. Although she stresses, it’s essential to take every day as it comes.
“It’s downright hard juggling a business, family, relationships, and self-care. Often something “slips”. You have to be ok with this and be ok with less than perfection in many areas. Stay focused on what actually matters. I used to do yoga five days a week – now, with a toddler and a business, I’m excited if I make it once. It’s taken me a whilst to accept this, but this is a great example of what I mean. There’s no time to sweat the small stuff. You are the ocean – everything else is just the waves!”
To discover more inspiring stories of women-led businesses, head to www.amazon.com.au/internationalwomensday
Find out how you can join the next generation of emerging brands on Amazon Launchpad here