We recently caught up with Chris Tistrand of Dinner Twist and Mason, Jarred and Beau of Kommunity Brew. Both organisations have been selected to be a part of the City’s newest addition to the Business Mentoring Program – SME Surge. Read on to learn more about their unique businesses and what motivates them to be socially responsible.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background, what led you to starting your business?
Dinner Twist – Born and raised in Sweden, I am an automation engineer now running a family food business in Perth – who would’ve thought! In 2009 my engineering career allowed us to come to Perth for a three-year adventure! Well, Perth grew on us and in 2011 we took our firstborn back to Sweden to meet the family. At a friend’s place, we were introduced to the meal kit concept, which originated in Sweden, as the doorbell rang and there was a man handing over fresh produce and matching recipes.
For the busy family this was a lifesaver and we thought it would be amazing to bring this to Perth! In March 2012 we delivered our first Dinner Twist box to some encouraging friends and neighbours!
Kommunity Brew – Jarred and I were both working in an organic food business while studying health science. We had great teamwork and a love of business. We thought there could be ways to impact public health positively without being clinicians and so we started to hatch some ideas. As we developed the idea of a business we spoke with friends, one of which was Beau a commercial distiller and beer brewer. All three of us shared in the philosophy of living clean and having each individually gone through a health epiphany of sorts, kombucha seemed a perfect fit. The driving vision for us was a contemporary bar with non-alcoholic options, which subsequently led to the development of a portfolio of non-alcoholic kombuchas – the birth of Kommunity Brew.
Why locate in Canning?
Dinner Twist – Canning has the infrastructure that will allow us to keep growing the business. Its location makes good sense from a logistic perspective as we deliver from Yanchep to Margaret River. Being a fresh food supplier, having Canning Vale markets around the corner saves us time as well as money. It’s also the first time we are in a business precinct and it’s great to have neighbours who all want to support each other.
Kommunity Brew – Being a small business, you learn to be savvy with expenses. Rather than having a bespoke space in Fremantle we chose a pragmatic warehouse in Canning Vale. Pragmatism served us to keep quality ingredients in our products. It is expensive being a top-shelf beverage, we didn't want to be a mainstream soda, and so it is important to keep the costs of logistics, leases and the likes at fair value. This rung true when we were advised by a seasoned winemaker "your wine is only as good as your grapes". Similarly, our kombucha is only as good as our tea, so we don't compromise our ingredients.
Both your organisations have such a strong focus on ethics and culture. Can you share what was the motivation behind this and how has this culture/ethos impacted the business?
Dinner Twist – "Happy staff and happy customers" has always been our motto. We are blessed with an amazing team who care deeply about their job and take pride in the positive changes we bring families in WA. You also attract people more likely to fit your culture if it shines through in the job ad. Naming it an Administrative Assistant versus a Customer Service Superstar sets expectations for both parties. It’s also a lot more fun!
Kommunity Brew – We started with the mission 'Change Australia's Drinking Culture'. After four years of being in the market, hundreds of events and sponsorships - we are glad to have achieved this mission. Our next mission is to brew 'Good Beverages for a Good Future'. This means a top quality beverage that improves the society we live in. We don't just want a healthier body for our customers, we want a healthier planet and society! This means we are creating direct partnerships with not-for-profit and charitable organisations. Our first chapter in this new mission is carbon neutrality. Our goal is to be carbon neutral by 2021 by planting trees with The Trillion Trees project in Hazelmere, WA.
Sustainability is at the core of both organisations. However, many businesses find being sustainable challenging and costly. What would your advice be to them?
Dinner Twist – I’d say we are all now aware that we are putting an unsustainable pressure on our planet. As business owners, we have the opportunity make impactful choices. At Dinner Twist, we continuously make more sustainable choices to our supply chain, sure it comes at a cost but it’s also a great differentiator. Customers now come to us for reduced plastics, reduced food waste, clean ingredients and fair farming.
Today your customers will look favourably on conscious sourcing but soon it will be the norm, if you are not starting that journey I believe you’ll fall behind.
Kommunity Brew – Focus on win-win and have real discussions with stakeholders. We talk to our suppliers about our company values and we find ways to become more sustainable without hitting the bottom line (too hard). We are also very clear with ourselves, we are not in this to fill our pockets. Our workforce is mostly part-time, including directors, because just about everyone has a family or study or a hobby they want to do. We are quite inspired by social issues and so we see the company as a vehicle to do good. Sustainability is only costly if you prefer the money in your pocket over the environments. We want a balance.
What is the future looking like for your business? Challenges and opportunities?
Dinner Twist – The biggest challenge is the influx of overseas global players. They are very clever with their marketing and change the expectations of the customers who now seeks discounts and flexibility that leads to increased waste.
On the flip side, this is also our biggest opportunity as more people come across our concept but seek a more sustainable and conscious alternative.
Kommunity Brew – Bright! Our challenge and opportunity is to get our voice out there, be heard, viewed and enjoyed. We feel like custodians to fermentation and kombucha brewing, and so while we are confident in our capacity, our process and quality, equally we could use more support in getting our voice out there. We have spent five years understanding medium-to-large scale production and specialising our supply chain, which has bred real confidence to support our tenacity. We do everything in-house which, to our surprise, is rare for food business. Now with all this wonderful process, quality assurance and knowledge, we need to share this with the market and get our presence out there.
(Published: June 2019)