Let’s break the ice-what are you drinking?
A Cappuccino with Almond Milk.
You are the founder of two Businesses; tell us a little bit about your first one – Bake By Gabriella:
It started out as an online bakery, while I was studying at art school. As you can imagine, studying at an art school, you seem to get very relaxed lecturers and even though it was an awesome course (and I’m glad I did it) I had a lot of free time. My parents have never really spoiled my sister and I too much, it’s always been a case of, you need to work hard for what you want, so I decided to start an online bakery to sell my products. It actually started getting a lot of momentum but then my second company – Skinny Scoop – started and that began taking up most of my time. As I was spending so much time and energy on Skinny Scoop, I decided to turn Bake By Gabriella into a food blog. It has now adapted to showcase my food blog recipes, and my moments on the Expresso Morning Show.
How do you maintain a balanced lifestyle?
It is really hard – a lot of alcohol, that’s for sure (laughs)! Honestly, it is difficult, I think the toughest thing is balancing and maintaining relationships. There’s only so much time in the day; for example, in the morning, I get up much earlier than my fiancé, he will probably argue that, but it’s true! I enjoy waking up and going to workout – then I will drive home, shower and back on the road to go to work. I try to get to work earlier than most – so that I can get home earlier in the afternoon at about 3/4pm to work on my blog.
My fiancé gets home quite late and by the time he is home, we eat, watch some series and then go to bed. So the weekend is really the only time that we spend together. We also try and make a real effort by going for breakfast and spending time with friends.
My teachers always used to comment on my reports that “Gabi needs to find balance” so I never found it then and it seems that I am still getting there! Some weeks I find balance a lot better than others, so yea, it all depends.
In all the craziness, do you ever just take some time to yourself?
I do. Once a month I go for a Pedicure, which is like my thing. You have to treat yourself sometimes. There’s a spa called McQueens which is a beauty spa in Sea Point (Cape Town), they have big luxurious chairs, and give you an incredibly relaxing foot massage, it’s like the best thing…ever!
I do enjoy a good bottle of red wine, so I will treat myself to that every now and again. And normally, (not at the moment because of water restrictions) I love a good hot relaxing bath; with my glass of wine.
Occasionally, I also like to go and have breakfast by myself. I take a book and go somewhere in the area – just to have some “me time”.
Tell me about Expresso, what is your favourite thing about being on the TV show?
It definitely would be the relationships which I have built. Everyone on set is so friendly, they are amazing! When I started Skinny Scoop, they were all so willing to help promote it on their social media platforms, which they really didn’t have to do.
Why Protein Ice Cream (Skinny Scoop)?
Skinny Scoop originated because I used to compete in Fitness shows, amongst everything else I was busy doing. My training for these shows involved a lot of gym and eating nutritious foods. I felt that I needed to create a snack that I could have, which had the right amount of calories and protein with every meal.
Every Sunday, my mom and sister used to walk down our road to Myog for frozen yoghurt. As I wasn’t allowed sugar (and being a Chef) I developed a recipe whereby I made my own protein icecream at home; whilst they ate their yoghurt. It was a different and simple recipe which was nice but not organic. So when I was coming up with the idea, I really wanted the product to be 100% natural.
A lot of money was spent on researching stabilisers; as my business partner and I only wanted to use natural ingredients, which is why our product is a little more expensive.
My personal trainer at the time (and co-founder of Skinny Scoop) Jarryd, tasted my homemade protein ice cream; he loved it and said why don’t we do this!
What was the hardest part in the beginning stages of your companies – or the biggest challenges you faced?
You know what, there were so many but even though they were challenges; they were exciting. However, there were some days when I thought “why on earth am I doing this to myself”.
My dad has been very inspiring and guided us a lot during the beginning stages; as he started his own business back in the day – he told us about staff, sales, and more. However, he hasn’t done much in retail, so I had to learn a lot of it on my own. To this day, I still don’t know if I am getting things right with regards to retail. There are literally some of our retailers, that if you don’t go and show your face to them once a week, they won’t take your order.
The hardest part for me, is definitely the money side of things. Both Jarryd and I had a fair amount of money saved which we put into Skinny Scoop in the beginning- but you start to find expenses that you never knew existed… and the packaging of products is also incredibly expensive. The packaging elements have definitely been the best and the worst of our business. I have had to learn so well how to proof read all our packaging. I really didn’t think it would be this hard.
Would you have been able to do this on your own?
I would never have been able to do this without my business partner- we get each other. When I have had a bad day, I can moan to him about it and vice versa. There are small things that happen during the day that I get so excited about and only he understands- we celebrate the little victories together.
Being a female in the retail industry is hard, there are many retailers that won’t take me seriously and will barely look at me; some would rather speak to Jarryd- I don’t know if it is because I am a female or because I am young, but it has been quite the challenge.
So what is it like being a young female entrepreneur?
It is difficult; some people don’t respect me because I am a young female entrepreneur but at the end of the day – it doesn’t matter how young I am, I have been working since the age of 13. I used to work at the checkout at my dad’s Deli when I was 13 years old, so people shouldn’t discount me because of age.
Jarryd is amazing at dealing with technical things and is always there to fix machinery if need be – so that’s been really helpful.
Being a woman is very hard in this industry – Don’t get me wrong, there are some retailers that are such gems to work with, which makes our hectic days so much better and friendlier. I actually look forward to visiting certain retailers as they always ask us how we are doing and really do make the effort. It also helps to gain some insights from them on how the past week has been in the trade – which helps us from a marketing insights point of view.
Who has been your mentor?
My dad. He literally started his business from the ground up. In the beginning, it was just a tiny coffee shop that sold bread and milk. Apparently Green point was the wrong area to rent in during those days, however he went with his gut-feel and his café positioning currently is in one of the most “vibey” areas in Cape Town.
If it wasn’t for him, I don’t actually know where my business would have been. Dealing with staff was definitely not my area of expertise. My dad had to remind me that I was paying them a salary and at the end of the day my employees were there to work and hit targets. I learnt that sometimes you have to be a boss and not a friend. My mom on the other hand is amazing with maths and always reminds me to “keep those damn slips” – so I have learnt the lesson- anybody running your own business, keep your expense slips!
What does “Body Love” mean to you?
So it’s actually quite funny that you asked me this. I have recently been asked to be an ambassador for FitKey, which is really amazing. Body Love is hectic – it’s something that I am still discovering and struggle with every day.
There are days when I wake up; put my jeans on and I literally want to cry and I don’t want to leave the house. My fiancé doesn’t see it or completely understand (but he is also a guy) – I am not trying to say men don’t struggle with it either but it’s different. My fiancé is someone that can eat whatever he wants and not pick up an ounce of weight. I take a bite of bread and I feel bloated for a couple days, even sugar makes me feel hungover the next day.
In terms of my figure, it’s been such a journey. I have really taken to gym training and try to maintain an enjoyable workout routine. I think with female bodies it is so hard; I speak to girls with perfect bodies and I mean perfect, but then they also have their own insecurities. Everyone is working through something.
Where do you see Bake By Gabriella and Skinny Scoop in the next 5 years?
Bake by Gabriella; I want to make it more of a brand and start some line extensions to the products which I offer on the site. I would also like to explore the possibility of marketing on YouTube.
Skinny Scoop; we have some exciting projects coming up which will hopefully be game changers for us (fingers crossed). In both my business ventures, I have been lucky to work and develop relationships with some incredible people. I hope to continue to do this over the next 5 years.
If you had to offer some advice to people wanting to explore the world of entrepreneurship, what would it be?
I would say that you need to find a Business Mentor. Preferably someone who is your elder, as they are generally more experienced and have a lot of value to provide.
Save money- it’s hard when trying to establish your brand, so don’t spend money on unnecessary items. Seek a return on investments when spending your money. A tip would be to initially find ten social media influencers who can “market” your brand for you – as opposed to spending large amounts of money with a PR company. These little tricks can save you large amounts of money, which you can use elsewhere.
If you could BREAK THE ICE with anyone – past or present – who would they be and how would you do it?
It would be Donna Hay. I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her yet, so she would definitely be the person I would like to “break the ice” with.
Knowing myself, I would be too nervous and star struck to say anything! But maybe I would try make a joke… which I think is funny but it’s actually not, and then probably just laugh at myself (laughs).
Ice Breaking Location- Honest Chocolate
Photography- Nina Zimolong
Host- Kendal Olivia Barrett