The Adaptables: Featuring crumpets by merna and pepe saya

In this Adaptables episode, we speak to Merna Taouk, founder of popular Sydney-based bakery Crumpets by Merna and Pierre Issa, owner of the celebrated PePe Saya Buttery Company.

Crumpets by Merna is based and baked in Sydney, with a philosophy for using the best quality local ingredients and working closely with Australian farmers and producers to achieve this. Their products are served at cafes, restaurants and can also be purchased online for food lovers across Sydney and beyond.

With restaurants and cafes closed, Merna quickly realized their online sales needed to increase in order to survive the pandemic. Through the power of collaboration, Crumpets by Merna joined forces with sister business, Pepe Saya to create the ultimate ‘self-isolation’ breakfast box. Listen in as Merna and Pierre share their takeaways on the importance of agility and finding pivot strategies that don’t necessarily mean an entire business re-modelling.

Episode summary: Merna and Pierre on the importance of agility.

Work magic with what you have. When their opportunities to sell in-person disappeared, Pierre says the two businesses realized there could be more value in packaging their products together as a breakfast pack online than selling them individually. “We've got the crumpet, we've got the butter, and a lemon curd … we could do these packs. And then as soon as we put them out, it was like magic. People loved them.”

Have a solid return policy. “We knew that we were going to have complications, we knew there were some orders we were going to stuff up,” Pierre says. “And we just put a policy together: anyone that complains, refund or replace. That's how it was. You have to at the end of the day — you have to look after the customer.”

Give it everything you’ve got. Pierre: “The best thing we ever did was say, ‘let’s throw everything we have at it.’ We watched other people just cut back on marketing cut back on PR, not engage with anyone, and just go, ‘oh, what am I gonna do?’ So if we had, say, $100,000 in the next 12 months to spend on marketing, we’d throw everything we had at it—and I think that paid off.”

Focus on the customer. Merna: “I think the customers liked it because it felt like we were engaging with them and they were engaging with us. I really liked that customer interaction because you don't get that all the time, the fact that people would tell us their stories about why they’re sending this pack to their mum and what they're going through. And that made it all worthwhile—the running around, the stress, the sleepless nights.”

If you found Merna’s and Pierre’s story as inspiring as we did, tune in for more Adaptables episodes featuring small business owners who have not only adapted to survive, but to thrive.

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