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Cass Spies is Sydney’s homegrown, entrepreneurial, start-up whiz. After tackling fourteen long years as a Project Manager in London’s banking industry, Spies returned to Australia with her family in order to start Twisted Yoghurt.
Spies’ background and training as a food technologist, paired with her love of quality food and wholesome ingredients got the ball rolling on Twisted Yoghurt. Having always wanted to start and grow her own business, Spies saw Twisted Yoghurt as an opportunity to mix business and pleasure and create the company she’d always dreamed of.
Devoted to her and her family’s health, Spies made sure that every ingredient in Twisted Yoghurt is 100% Australian and 100% natural – no syrups, no additives and gluten free – just pure, tasty frozen yoghurt made from Australia’s finest local farmers.
Balancing life and motherhood, three young children, and a steadily growing business was not easy. Tasked with tending to these areas of her life while focusing on getting Twisted Yoghurt off the ground, Spies showed determination of resilience when the inevitable challenges arose. Spies discusses her personal and family sacrifices involved in the foundation of Twisted Yoghurt, “I don’t always get it right, but I have started to reach a place where I have more flexibility to be there for everyone when they need me.”
Spies’ hard work has certainly paid off, with Twisted Yoghurt achieving considerable success since its foundation in 2010. After opening their first store in Bondi Junction, a venue now reserved for product testing as well as a shopfront, the business began taking Sydney – and Australia – by storm.
Twisted Yoghurt is now sold at over 1500 outlets, and boasts a nationwide contract with supermarket giant, Woolworths. Twisted Yoghurt products include take home tubs, mini cones and single serve cups, with flavours that have been tried and tested by local yoghurt lovers and Twisted Yoghurt’s own employees.
Where did the idea come from/ what was the inspiration behind Twisted?
We saw Frozen Yoghurt in California in 2008 and decided that there was a gap in the Australian market for a similar product – a healthy alternative to ice cream that still tasted good. What we brought to market was our own secret recipe that was created specifically for the Australian palate using all Australian ingredients. Something the Aussie market had never seen (or tasted!) before.
How did you get the business off the ground?
Slowly….! I had just had my second child so I was pulling together Business plans, brand development and cash flow forecasts during his lunch time sleep and then in the evening when both the kids were in bed. I did nearly 9 months of research and development before we opened the door of our first retail location. This location would also end up being the site of our (tiny!) manufacturing space. For the first 2 years, we focused on perfecting our recipes, our processes and our brand values before we were able to look at expanding further.
Describe your growth
Our growth has been interesting. Our journey began in opening retail, high street outlets – Frozen Yoghurt and Smoothie bars. What we discovered was that our customers were really enjoying taking our tubs home and putting them in their freezers at home and this is the area of the business that has really grown. We now sell our range of products in Woolworths Supermarkets and high end grocery chains around the country. Our work in the food service and events space has also really started to take off on the back of our white labelling options that we now offer so brands can get their logo on our tubs. These days life is spent mainly at our factory, with our amazing production team.
You’re committed to real authentic Australian ingredients – is this a good lesson for other business builders?
Absolutely. The overriding feedback that we get from our customers is that with so many options available these days, authenticity and quality are the keys to success. Once you cut through the hype, the social media and the marketing, it is the quality of your product and the focus on service that will keep your customers coming back for more time and time again.
What type of response have you’ve received from customers?
I am always blown away by the response that we get from our customers. I still find it amazing that people take time out of their day to tell us how much they love our yoghurt. It really does make all the hard work so worthwhile. If we are putting a smile on peoples face then we are doing what we set out to do back when we started the business. Let’s face it, with so many serious things in life, something like Frozen Yoghurt should put a smile on your face!
What have been the benefits and challenges of the business?
I find the main benefit of being in your own business is the level of satisfaction I get each and every day. During my 15 years in Corporate, I never had the same sense of achievement and passion for what I was doing on a daily basis as I do at Twisted. Also, after nearly 7 years I am starting to get some more freedom with having my own business as well. I recently took the day out to attend my children’s swimming carnival which was an wonderful feeling. Over time, I have built up a very loyal team that I can depend on to run the operations in my absence. It has taken many hours of blood, sweat (and some tears…!) to get to this point, but I am so grateful to finally be in the position I only every dreamed about – with real autonomy doing something that I love every day.
What are your plans for the next 6 to 12 mths?
Our goal is to be available in Supermarkets in every state (our take home tubs are currently available in NSW, Victoria and South Australia). We have some new product ranges that we are currently developing (something we have never brought to market before) that are super exciting of course are always working on the next big flavour to add to our range of tubs.
What are your top 3 social media tips for business builders?
Be authentic, be responsive and stay true to your brand values with every post.