Over the past few weeks, we've interviewed some of our favourite female entrepreneurs on the highs and lows of running your own small business. This week, we sat down with Swedish-born Sara Lundgren of Tasteology.
Sara is no stranger to entrepreneurship. After the success of her Scandinavia-meets-Bondi homewares label, ZAKKIA—which she established back in 2012 and has since sold—she leveraged her industry knowledge to launch Tasteology. The beautiful artisan range of Australian salts, sugars, spices and oils caters to the design conscious foodie, and you can be sure that each of her products tastes just as good as they look.
We sat down with Sara to learn about what it takes to launch not one, but two successful businesses while raising a family.
Tell us about TASTEOLOGY's early days. How did it take off?
I have a background in homewares, having founded ZAKKIA homewares, which I sold last year. So, I have a passion for design and a huge appreciation for craftsmanship and locally produced products. My partner, Nigel, is a hobby chef and is always experimenting with new dishes in the kitchen. I grew tired of always having his herb and spice jars out on the kitchen bench so I decided to design something that would blend in with our décor and be more of a design feature rather than something you want to hide in a cupboard. Nigel was onboard straight away and started experimenting with new flavour combinations. Sourcing local and natural ingredients was important for us and we were lucky to find some local partners to work with for the supply and manufacturing. And just like that, TASTEOLOGY was born!
What advice do you have for riding the highs and lows of running a small business?
Running my own business allows me to be creative and act on ideas I get. I used to work in corporate marketing and always felt really restricted by bureaucracy and processes. Having my own thing definitely lets me be more flexible. The lows of owning my own business is that there is always work there to do. I have a really hard time switching off and not thinking about work when I’m meant to be off.
How do you do to stay inspired?
Travelling always sparks my creativity. There is something about being in new places, meeting new people and stepping away from your daily routine. I always travel with a notebook and when I come home it’s usually full of ideas.
What is the key to success in business?
I think you have to be passionate about what you do and be prepared for A LOT of hard work - running your own business is not that glamorous!
What has been one of your greatest challenges as an entrepreneur?
Balancing baby and business is a tough one. TASTEOLOGY launched a few weeks before my first baby was born and in hindsight, it probably wasn't the smartest thing to do. I had no idea what I was in for. I have a few friends who have their own businesses and had just had babies and they seemed to be back in the office only a few weeks after giving birth, with their new happy babies in tow. Naïvely I thought I could do the same, but what I have realized since is that every baby is different and what works for some mums may not work for others.
I had been working at 110% for such a long time before baby Axel was born, I remember being told off by my obstetrician for being on my laptop answering emails in the hospital bed, but I just didn't know how to switch off and slow down. That was a huge learning curve for me. Axel was born with severe reflux and for the first year of his life, he would not sleep lying flat on his back as a result. We spent most of our nights taking turns walking around our apartment with a screaming, inconsolable baby. The days were mostly just a sleepless blur. I honestly don’t know how I got any work done. I would run down to the café at the end of our street to grab some much-needed caffeine and I would see these mums calmly scrolling through Instagram on their phones and sipping coffee while their content babies would just lie in their prams and look at the sky. With Axel it was a very different story, I couldn’t take him out much as he would have these screaming fits because of his reflux and I just couldn’t handle it when that happened out in public. He was a very demanding baby, and that forced me to shift my focus and my expectations on myself. It also gave me whole new respect for other women who juggle multiple children and a business or a demanding career!
What’s the best piece of advice you have for women wanting to start a business?
Just do it! Overplanning sometimes kills businesses before they have even launched. I'm a big believer in planning and being organized, but I think it comes to a point where you can’t plan for everything and as long as you have the basics covered you just have to go for it before the opportunity is gone!
What does feminism mean to you?
I grew up in Sweden with a very feminist mum, so the whole conversation around equality has always been a central part of my upbringing. I think it’s important to shine a spotlight on all of the amazing work that is being done by all of the powerful, inspirational women around the world!
What’s next for Tasteology?
We just launched an exciting new collection of products!! We teamed up with sugar cane growers in northern NSW to create some pretty special flavoured cane sugars, which come in our signature grinder We also just released a collection of Australian native spices, including lemon myrtle and wattleseed. We recently created a partnership with The Barrier Reef Foundation where a portion of the sales of our Great Barrier Reef Salts will go towards supporting their work, which I’m very proud of.
All images provided by Tasteology (@tasteology_aus) & photographed by Sam McAdam-Cooper (@sammcadam_cooper)