First trialling turmeric lattes on cafe customers at Evolve Food Store in Belgrave after a childhood of enjoying the ancient yellow spice, co-founder of Golden Grind Renwick Watts took the plunge into starting a small business. And it’s been one that’s more than paid off.
When did you first become aware of turmeric lattes and when did the concept of creating a business around it arise?
Turmeric was apart of my diet from a young age. My Father originated from the West Indies where they used turmeric in lots of their cooking. Furthermore, my wife has completed a bachelor of Dietetics and Nutrition and had heard of the benefits of turmeric and so together we decided to introduce the turmeric ‘Golden Latte’ to our menu at our family run cafe.
What were some of the initial challenges you faced setting up the business?
I think the hardest challenges have been is knowing your limitations, strengths and weaknesses and not trying to do everything yourself. Plus time, we all have our 9-5 jobs and so we are limited as to what we can do. We are a team of three my wife Tahli and my sister in law Sage and we all bring very different aspects to the business. Early days it was very hard and on our personal relationships and so we have had to work very hard to keeping business and pleasure, separate.
What did family and friends think of the venture?
Our friends and family have been a massive support without them Golden Grind wouldn’t be in the place it is now. One tip I would give to start ups is get your family and friends involved in the early stages whether its focus group or physical task. We have family members working with us daily.
How long was the process of perfecting the recipe?
We first started serving turmeric latte’s at our cafe back in 2014 and early days people were very hesident to try our drink. Within a year of educating our customers on the health benefits and trailing at least five different recipes on our hero blend we feel we nailed the perfect Turmeric Latte Blend. We pride our brand on using organic ingredients and the best quality turmeric.
Since Golden Grind has been around, turmeric lattes have increased in popularity and become a massive trend, how was that for you as a business being ahead of the curve, so to speak? Was it something you predicted?
Turmeric has been around for 1000’s of years and I have been consuming it from as young as I can remember. I had a feeling that if we could share turmeric in a fun but sound way that we could create a business out of this. We were lucky early days getting a lot of press which helped us. We really focus on predicting trends our new beauty range which we have just launched will be the next on trend product as there are so many proven facts that turmeric can help with skin. We know that large cosmetic companies will be onto this soon so we want to be first to market.
You’ve recently developed a chocolate product as well, how did that come about?
We all love chocolate, especially Sage and so we thought lets have some fun and bring two of our favourite things together, Turmeric and Chocolate. Plus, turmeric is best absorb with a natural fat, like the coconut oil in our chocolate so it lends itself perfectly. A block doesn’t last long in our house.
Where are other avenues you’re looking to explore and expand the business?
We are focusing on product development, educating the consumer and exporting to the USA, UK, NZ and China.
What’s been the biggest thing you’ve learnt from operating a business?
Take your time and do things properly. And…It’s bloody hard work!!
You’ve got a rural background too (from Colac), has that shaped your approach to business at all? Were you heavily involved in the cafe scene growing up?
Yes I am a country boy. One thing among many that I have taken from Colac would be there shear work ethic. My Pop was an inspiration to me working so hard on the farm. Definitely wasn’t involved in the cafe scene specifically in Colac back 10-20 years ago, but basics like; hard work, networking, treating people well has stuck!
When you first started out, what was the first cafe you wanted to get stocked/used in and what was the moment like when you achieved it?
Our first cafe’s apart from our own was Patch in Richmond and Matcha Mylkbar. Both owners we are friends with but it didn’t take away the feeling I got seeing my own product on the shelf of two of Melbourne top cafes. I’ll never forget it.
To date, are you able to fill our readers in on how many cafes use your product and how much you go through a year?
We have worked so hard and would be served in around 450 cafes nationally and 60 internationally including Bluestone in NY and Grind in London and around 400 health food stores.
My departing tips would be to use your networks, be prepared for hard work, take your time and be ahead of the trend. Small business can be so rewarding but it doesn’t come lightly. And never forget to have fun!!!
Images supplied by Renwick Watts/Golden Grind.