Two mums with a taste for business graduated this week from selling their sweet treats from a caravan to a Frankton shop, writes Kashka Tunstall .
Mama's Donuts may be the new kids on the Frankton block but the two mums behind the brand are old hands.
Their popular donuts already have a legion of fans and 170 customers helped the business celebrate its opening in Duke St on Thursday.
Behind Mama's Donuts are Temple View mums Rachael Jaunay and Rebecca Cowley, fulltime mothers who wanted to make a little extra money.
Both had dabbled in business before. Jaunay had a small part-time craft business and Cowley was always looking at opportunities to make a bit of pocket money.
But when a friend who sold handmade donuts to students up the road at the now defunct Church College decided to move to Australia in 2006, a gap in a lucrative market opened up, Jaunay says.
So Jaunay broke out an old family recipe, and using household cupboard ingredients and a circular palm-sized container lid she found in her kitchen, made 57 donuts.
She went up to the school at lunchtime, unsure of what to expect, and came home out of donuts. The next week friend Rebecca Cowley lent a hand.
The partnership has lasted six years and grown a big following.
Cowley says Australian customers have planned trips to Hamilton around Saturday selling days just to indulge.
The name Mama's Donuts was suggested by a friend. It was a good fit - Jaunay will have her seventh child in December, the first girl in her brood, while Cowley is a mum to five.
In 2009 Jaunay and Cowley bought a caravan to cater for the growing demand. They made and sold the treats from the caravan, which was set up outside Jaunay's home on the main street in Temple View every Friday.
The business found a strong fan base on the farmer's market circuits too. It opens outside the United Sweets store on Commerce St on Fridays and Saturdays, at the Gordonton Country Market every second Saturday of the month and the Tamahere Market every third Saturday.
The women have never written a business plan.
"We've been conservative about it. We've kind of grown into each phase of the business and avoided going into too much debt and gone with demand," Jaunay says. "It's quite neat to sell out every week. A lot of people say that we need to make more but who wants to be left with excess donuts? It creates a kind of frenzy to hurry and buy them if you know they will sell out."
Cowley says the caravan couldn't keep up with demand. "We just got too busy and this is part of the natural progression and now everybody's asking when we're franchising."
The answer is they're thinking about it, but want to see how the shop goes.
Over the last six years they borrowed and invested $130,00 in their business, including the cost of the caravan and the shop kitchen renovations. They plan to pay off the debt in the next six months and will then consider taking on part-time staff.
The new space with its industrial ovens will enable weekly production to double to 4000. They have a daily production cap. Once the last donut has sold the women are done for the day.
And there is no more using container lids for cutting out dough. Cowley's brother-in-law designed a steel cutter for the traditional donuts and Waikato company Stainless Steel Designs made a large format cutter for a new gourmet line. But generally the women avoid automation. They say the flavour changes too much if donuts are not handmade and hand-rolled.
Taste testing of new ideas is done by friends. Original glazed donuts cost $2 while the new gourmet range cost $2.50.
The women are up and cooking at 4am in time for a 7am opening. The shop will open only on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Cowley reckons that by creating a smaller selling window they can drive demand and make as much as if they were open all week.
Besides, their ethos is they are mamas to their children first and to their customers second. The shop is set up so they can be close to home and do the school run.