If you haven’t tried Secret Kiwi Kitchen’s artisan baking mixes yet, you are missing out! Local Shore duo Lauren 'Lulu' Taylor and Clare Gallagher dreamed up the idea after Covid-19 hit. With a background in digital marketing, hospitality and food, it was only a matter of time before the ladies tackled something like this with the online element an important part of the business strategy. After the first lockdown, Lulu lost her job; while she was pondering what was next Clare asked if she wanted to start a fudge sauce business. Both passionate foodies and with seven kids between them, Lulu and Clare took a leap of faith and launched Secret Kiwi Kitchen around the same time as the August lockdown in Auckland to brighten the spirits of the local community. Their products are now stocked in a variety of local stores as well as online. Lulu talks to Channel Mag's Aidan Bennett about launching an online business, the huge importance of community and why they are so passionate about their delicious homegrown offering.
AIDAN BENNETT: What is your website/product about in a nutshell?
Lauren Lulu Taylor: We sell all-natural, one-bowl artisan baking mixes and dessert sauces including Marshmallow Fluff. We like to think of ourselves as people’s secret kitchen allies, making it easy to make and share baked goods and sweet treats.
AB: What’s your background in business? Do you have experience in running an online business?
LLT: Prior to Secret Kiwi Kitchen, I was a digital marketer working to support businesses primarily in the hospitality industry. Having spent many years advising people and companies on their digital (online) strategies, I'm excited about the opportunity to focus on launching an artisan food company. Clare, my co-founder and partner, previously owned Waiheke Fudge which she successfully built from scratch and sold in 2017. Clare sold her fudge both online and in stores throughout New Zealand.
AB: What are the other brands you look up to in the food and online space, and why do you admire them?
LLT: Many of the brands that we deeply admire are actually Shore brands! We are so lucky to have so many top-notch companies that were lovingly created here in own our back yard. One of the companies that really inspired us early on was Best Bone Broth owned by Devonport locals Derek and Kate Moffat. We love the fact that like us they started their dream business in their own kitchen cooking for their family and friends, and now their amazing products are in over 180 stores around New Zealand. Right from the beginning, Kate encouraged us and shared invaluable tips that helped propel us to grow smarter and faster. Another incredible Shore business is Lupchoo Nitro Cold Brew started by Devonport local Nicole Fougère. We are a part of a meet-up and Facebook group of Shore locals in the food and beverage space with both Nicole and Kate. We get together and share our challenges and tips, it’s extremely helpful having support from people in the industry.
AB: What is your favourite product in your range and why?
LLT: We are really excited about creating and sharing our Marshmallow Fluff sauce. For those of your readers who don’t know what it is, it’s our interpretation of the cult American favourite by the same name…. Our kids think Secret Kiwi Kitchen’s might be even better! We add a pinch of New Zealand sea salt and real Tongan vanilla extract so it has a uniquely Kiwi flair. Fluff is essentially a molten marshmallow sauce or liquid pavlova. It’s super fun because you can do so many creative things with it like use it as an icing, make instant s’mores and fluffernutters (peanut and fluff sandwiches). Best of all, you can torch it like a meringue topping. We are also really proud of our baking mixes and the fact that we are able to make home baking an easy and fun experience for everyone. We’re thrilled when we hear stories of kids cooking treats for their sports teams all on their own or people making birthday cakes with our mixes for the first time ever. We also think it’s important to have a local option for baking mixes that are made with primarily New Zealand ingredients. It seems crazy to us that so many mixes are imported with ingredients like American milk powder and GMO flour when New Zealand produces some of the finest ingredients in the world.
AB: What has been your biggest learning so far on your journey in online retail?
LLT: Our biggest learning is don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many incredible people here in New Zealand both online and physically in our communities that are willing to help and that help can mean a world of difference to a young company.
AB: Do you have any advice for other Shore people wanting to begin an online business?
LLT: Yes, reach out and connect with people. Honestly, we owe so much of our success to the local community. Right from the beginning, we reached out to neighbours and locals in person and through social media to share our business journey. We had neighbours taste testing and giving feedback before we launched. Their encouragement and support have been invaluable. These days, in particular, people want to support local and that is an incredible opportunity for businesses just starting out. The local support we have received has extended beyond neighbours becoming invaluable customers to also include Shore business people advising and encouraging us. We have had CEOs of companies and successful business people willing to give us advice and nurture us because we are a local business and local people. One of the best things about living and working on the Shore is that we have access to so many people with incredible success stories that are willing to share their learnings.
AB: How can Channel readers purchase your range?
LLT: On our website www.SecretKiwikitchen.com is the place to buy our mixes; we offer free delivery to the North Shore. We are adding new stockists daily (check our website) but some of the stores that carry our products include Smith & Caughey (online & Queen Street store), New World Shore City and Devonport, and Fresh Market Devonport and Hauraki.