Pardon My French Treats owner and self-taught baker Yeelin Li started her small business out of necessity in November 2020. A mum of three from Mauritius, she had planned to go back, but then the pandemic happened. With childcare being expensive she decided to go back to work by starting her own business. “I like cooking, so I wanted to have a food related business. I thought why not start baking?” At the time she saw a lot of canelés, specialty French pastries from Bordeaux, being made and posted by the people she followed on Instagram. She did some research and found that although they were popular over east in Melbourne and Sydney, not many businesses were making and selling them in Perth. Her business Pardon My French Treats now sells a number of French pastries including canelés, financiers and madeleines, as well as napolitaines and banana tarts which are Mauritian classics.
Yeelin signed up to the Grow Your Business Armadale mentoring program, which partnered with Business Station and allowed participants to access our Thrive program. Thrive empowers businesses through workshops, accountability check-ins and strategy reviews. It takes place in a group setting with up to 11 other small business owners. “When I started baking, I had the baking part, but not much marketing experience. I wanted to do a course in marketing to have guidance but it’s very difficult with kids.”
The program helped Yeelin to set specific and actionable goals and she enjoyed the group setting aspect. “I like that we were all small business owners. Even though we all had different businesses we kind of had the same problems. I could relate to them. During the program you get to pair up with other people, share ideas and get another person’s perspective.” She was also able to consider forms of marketing other than social media that could help her reach more customers. “Before I started the program, I was focusing a lot on online marketing. I bake from my own home so not many people know about my business, that’s why I was focusing on social media a lot. Peter, our facilitator, said how about brochures and business cards, so I printed them out and now I hand them to each customer with their order. I have little cards that say if you like the product refer us to your friend or write a review on Facebook.”
Following Thrive, Yeelin also completed the Digital Solutions program and was paired with Neda Farzad (marketing strategy) and Kelby Williams (financial analysis). She attended in-person and online one-to-one sessions. Neda helped Yeelin with her social media and content creation, whilst Kelby assisted Yeelin with her pricing. “When I started baking, I didn’t even know how to price my products. I was just comparing the prices with other bakers over east and then seeing if they would be acceptable here.”
“You have nothing to lose, you learn a lot, especially if you don’t really know what you’re doing. I started a home baking business then I thought what’s next? The program helps you to set your goals and know how to achieve them.” Yeelin said when reflecting on her experience with the Thrive program.