A couple of weeks ago I was looking after my neighbour’s two cats while he was away. And as often the case with cats at this time of year – they shed their winter coat. So, I decided I would sweep up & straighten up, before his return. What I noticed was coconut. Shredded coconut.
Then I noticed coconut in the hallway in our apartment block. At another neighbours place, in my car, in my bed, on the little ledge inside the washing machine door…and in my piggy tail! Coconut, coconut everywhere!
So there it is – my life comes down to coconut. Shredded coconut.
As we sat around the family dinner table last night following a great meal, dessert was naturally lamingtons! After I refused dessert (no room) my sister asked me if I was sick and tired of lamingtons. Quite the contrary I can assure you. In fact I think I am a little addicted if truth be told. But there is so much to be addicted to!
Fresh, moist cake, sometimes fresh in season fruit, chocolate dip of either white of dark persuasion and the piece de resistance – shredded coconut. I think I am also a little addicted to the creation side as well…
My first wedding enquiry came to the shop two weeks ago! This was going to be fun. A lamington stack for a wedding cake? Brilliant! We were discussing some options and I sprouted “I only use fresh ingredients – what ever is in season in March is what I will do” or something like that. Later on I thought to myself – what a tosser. This is HER wedding. HER day. If she wants something out of season then I will do it. But I put forward a couple of ideas that didn’t include fresh seasonal produce, like a Creme Brulee Lamington! Sounds pretty good for a wedding eh?
I must say these last couple of weeks have been tumultuous to say the least. My Mum has been in hospital having a knee replacement and there has been a few hiccups but mostly she seems to be on the mend. This has brought up a few emotional issues for me, as we lost my Nan following her hip replacement and the pulmonary embolism that followed.
Firstly, the anxiety of her actual operation and then the stress of her recovery, plus trying to visit as much as humanly possible…plus my Dad can’t cook. So there was meal prep as well (not that I mind in the slightest).
Wholesale for LusciousKiki Cakes is building week by week. This is good. Every week I drop off samples at cafes I think may be interested – I’ve not had a knock back as yet (don’t get cocky now!) – so the list is getting longer – Belrose Hotel, North Steyne Emporio, Moreish Foods and the newest is Cafe Bella Vista at North Head. There are a couple more I’m working on…
But the shop itself is not where I thought it would be by now. This is not good. This causes me some worry.
I was truly hoping to have a balance between wholesale and retail and use the Friday and Saturdays as my social interaction, as well as supplementing my wholesale income. Don’t get me wrong – the people that do come in to the shop are fabulous and I love to see their gorgeous faces every week. But sales are erratic.
So I am kind of caught in a situation of my own making.
As it is only me, I always ask myself “what is the best use of my time right now?”. Is it trotting around delivering post cards? Is it creating new yum yum flavours? Is it sending out menus and trying to drum up more business? Is it taking a moment to relax with my thoughts and read a book (that is not a cook book) with a cuppa? Torn is the feeling.
But two things have become clear to me in the last seven weeks since opening Luscious. The first is that many of the “local” Brookvale people look on me as if I were a little like Reece Witherspoon’s character in Legally Blonde and the second is that word of mouthis priceless.
Let me explain…the Legally Blonde reference is more than just a hot pink outfit in a sea of dark grey or black suits. People around here always stand out, what with all the hi-vis vests, fluro shirts and hard hats! It’s more about an attitude I believe. Being an old hospitality hand I always have my “game face” on even if the doors to Luscious are not open. I represent Luscious and therefore, it is my firm belief that my projected persona be one of sweetness and light at all times.
Sometimes it is hard to always have the game face on – like when I’ve been up since 3am and I’m dog-tired or I’ve got a cracker headache and can’t see out of one eye.
Most times though, it is not too hard at all. Gone are the days when I just didn’t want to get out of bed to drag myself to work. Gone is the dread that fills my heart on Sunday night, as bedtime nears and I cringe at the thought of having to go back to the grind on Monday. Most days – I just can’t wait to get here. And that fact, I believe is the key.
The word of mouth being priceless reference has always been something I’ve known, but when it’s your own business and you’ve poured your heart and soul into it and you live and breathe it daily and are so close to your customer, then the value of word of mouth really, truly is priceless.
The responsibility of generating word of mouth is great and my first point about the game face feeds into this. Even when I’m delivering postcards, or standing in line at Woolies and I strike up a conversation, even when I’m sweeping the footpath out front – I represent.
Every person who steps foot over the Luscious threshold has the potential to be a walking advertisement for Luscious. It does not matter if they buy one lamington or twelve. One coffee or four. These people hold the future of Luscious in their hands. Therefore I must treat every single one of them as if they were the King of Siam.
I made a decision early on that although this is the Luscious way, although they are always the customer (and the customer is King) – I will not sell my soul to the devil, so to speak. I will be honest in my dealings with people, charge fairly and still retain integrity in every aspect.
Many, many moons ago I was fortunate enough to work in one of Sydney’s most famous “hat-ed” restaurants. But I had to sell my soul, as everything was about bowing and scraping to the customer. Always showing a smile (that never reached my eyes). Always conceding that the customer was right. Never correcting mis-pronunciations and never, ever having an opinion that was in opposition to the customer’s.
Valuable lessons all.
For Luscious I want to smile genuinely. I want to greet people warmly as they enter Luscious, if it’s their first time or fiftieth. I want to make people feel like they’ve stepped in to a little piece of heaven and leave thinking they’ll be back next week. But I want it to be real. All of it. I want to be real.