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Mumbition

The Podcast By Mums & Co

Episode 18: How to build a supportive community with Lenka Porubska, MMMore Treats

Livelihood is at the centre of most of our decisions to start a business. It's how we can earn a living from doing what we love to do.  

As a popular barista, Lenka Porubska found that she loved nurturing herself and her local customers with handmade, raw and healthy treats. Five years later she has expanded her product range that once once served alongside the coffees she was made to a successful food business with its own commercial kitchen, national distribution partnerships and thoughtful environmental commitment.  

Lenka, truly lives and breathes ambition, livelihood and well-being. 

Links

Sarah Nelson

Credits

Produced & Edited by - Morgan Brown
Interviewers - Carrie Kwan and Lucy Kippist
Guest - Lenka Porubska

Are you ready to join a movement of business owning women?  Join Mums & Co today.

Episode 18 Transcript

00:01:10:09 - 00:01:30:22

Carrie Kwan

Livelihood is at the centre of most of our decisions to start a business. It's how we can earn a living from doing what we love to do. 

 

As a popular barista, Lenka Porubska found that she loved nurturing herself and her local customers with handmade, raw and healthy treats. Five years later she has expanded her product range that once once served alongside the coffees she was made to a successful food business with its own commercial kitchen, national distribution partnerships and thoughtful environmental commitment. 

 

Lenka, truly lives and breathes ambition, livelihood and well-being. Lenka, welcome to the Mumbition podcast.

00:01:48:20 - 00:01:50:15

Lenka Porubska 

Thank you so much for having me.

00:01:50:21 - 00:02:06:23

Carrie Kwan

We're excited that you're here, and our very first question to business owning women is always to hear her pitch. We feel that women should embrace every opportunity that they have to make introductions and connect with customers. So please may we invite you to share your elevator pitch.

00:02:07:04 - 00:02:31:20

Lenka Porubska

Thank you. My name is Lenka and I am the owner of MMMore. We develop and manufacture raw sweet treats, which are an alternative to your traditional sugary treats. We source the best quality ingredients, implement zero waste strategies and try to be as good as possible to the environment. We produce these treats for basically everyone with a sweet tooth, but they are also gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, vegan and quite healthy. 

They can satisfy really everyone. Some of our products include raw slices and we also make power cubes. Which are an alternative to protein balls. We have a new range of peanut butter on the market now as well. We do supply mainly to our wholesale customers, cafes, independent retailers or hotels, catering businesses, but we do sell online as well directly to our customers.

00:03:10:20 - 00:03:22:21

Carrie Kwan

I'm very familiar with your products. I've had lots of those treats and I was thinking as you were talking, who doesn't have a sweet tooth? But then you've kind of expanded to the gluten-free audience. Your products including the peanut butter are absolutely moreish.

00:03:31:14 - 00:03:32:03

Lenka Porubska

Thank you.

00:03:32:12 - 00:03:39:20

Lucy Kippist

Lenka, just wondering if you could share a little bit more about why you actually decided to start your business?

00:03:40:01 - 00:03:56:20

Lenka Porubska

Well, for me, it happened very organically and very naturally. As you mentioned, I was working in hospitality, I was running a café and I just started becoming really interested in health food and nutrition. So I started making treats for myself.

When you work in hospitality, you become a part of the community. You know your customers, they become your friends and you share your life with them. So I was sharing my treats with my customers and friends, and they were telling me, “You should sell these. And, “I can connect you with that person”. And, “You really should make this a little bit more commercial”. So I started doing that and I had a beautiful platform, a hospitality venue where I could actually test everything.

So it was very organic. I could also see how people were reacting, and how people come back to buy more of my products. It really inspired me and it actually gave me that sense of motivation or that drive to believe that this could be something.

I didn't really need much pushing or anything. It just happened. I don't want to say I was lucky because I worked really hard, but it had a good base of support and connection with others.

00:05:07:14 - 00:05:24:04

Lucy Kippist

Sounds wonderful and also sounds like particularly at the moment, a fairly hands-on sort of business. In terms of handling the products, the manual processes involved in creating something that's edible and then sending it out to customers. What have you had to stop doing in the other aspects of your life to make this business work for you and the way that your life is right now?

00:05:33:04 - 00:05:46:23

Lenka Porubska

I had to quit the job that was kind of safe and take the risk as many people do, and I know how hard it is. But I didn't do it all at once. I kept the job for a few days a week and then I remember it just became too much. I just had to start working really hard and had to make a living with my passion. But it's not easy.

00:06:02:02 - 00:06:17:10

Lucy Kippist

That's a big thing. The way you described quitting incrementally, but still keeping a few days a week, I know that's quite common.What would your advice be to someone who was taking that step as well, that incremental step into business?

00:06:17:19 - 00:06:38:03

Lenka Porubska

Maybe don't be scared, especially if you really believe in your business and your product. A very important thing is to seek feedback, for example, it was that that expression facial expression of people who tried my product, I could tell that they are loving it.

I would say to myself, “It has to sell if people are loving it. I'm on to something, right?”. So straight away that feedback, because I was selling it to people like in person I could see and hear what they liked about it. I had that feedback instantly. So if you believe it, it will show and it will sell the product and it will give you the motivation and the drive to actually go for it.

00:07:24:04 - 00:07:38:09

Lucy Kippist

100% believe that, too. That's such a powerful statement. Thank you for sharing that. Carrie mentioned when we started talking to you today that we love asking women to practice their pitch at Mums & Co, but we also like encouraging her to make introductions. So is there anything right now in your business or in your life that you would ask for? And what would that be?

00:07:46:04 - 00:08:07:17

Lenka Porubska

I keep saying that the way things are at the moment being so challenging for us and for many businesses out there. I'm just asking for people to connect, to get in touch, to like us on Instagram, to follow us, to send us a message to just show us some love. It doesn't have to be in the form of financial support. It's just that we need to hear from our customers, from our supporters that they are with us. That a little bit of motivation, as I said, that I get from our customers, it's just what keeps me going.

If I could ask for something, it would be to show us some love and connect with us and spread the word. And that is the biggest help that we can get at the moment.

00:08:39:06 - 00:08:55:04

Carrie Kwan

That's a beautiful ask. Being that you are among the first cohort of our Confident Pitching for Business Women course, which helps female founders get pitch confident ready.

I wanted to ask, what have you learned in the process of making an ask? As you were talking, I was like, “She knows that she's connecting on a really empathetic level”.

00:09:08:10 - 00:09:21:15

Lenka Porubska

I think that what I've realized as well here is that when we are not afraid to ask, we realize people want to help you. If you are to ask for help, people genuinely want to support you and help you.

Just because we are not so confident and a little shy, we don’t need to figure everything out ourselves. If we don't ask and then we will not find out that people actually out there can totally make it easy for us, and they want to help us.

00:09:40:05 - 00:09:57:19

Carrie Kwan

So never assume that they don't want to help. So that pitch is so important now. You know that we love celebrating the support of our co, which is the company of partners, friends, family, clients, anyone who supports us in our business.

And we know that you are a friend to our very own Chief of Staff, Sarah Nelson, and count a number of businesses in your local areas as suppliers. Can you tell us the importance of having a local CO and the importance of community?

00:10:10:22 - 00:10:28:19

Lenka Porubska

Community is everything! And you know what? That is one reason why I love Australia and why I decided to live here. This has been my that people become a part of the community so easily and grow easily.

If they want to, they can reach out and become a part of the community in Australia. I think there is a big community base. The sense of community is very important here in Australia.

I really love this about Australia, especially in a big city like Sydney. I didn't expect it at all. So I think it's important to not only know your neighbour, but your customers, your community and everyone.

They are not just customers and neighbours, they are your friends. They know your story, they support you. They are loyal. I have such loyal and long term customers. I got to know over the past seven years while I was like walking around with these boxes of samples. They are part of my journey. They want to stay with you and it's very important to create this space. I really like the sense of community and it's so important because without the community and without the support of my community, I wouldn't be where I am right now.

00:11:40:11 - 00:11:44:23

Carrie Kwan

I think you're a big part of why that community is the way it is to.

00:11:45:19 - 00:11:46:12

Lenka Porubska

Thank you.

00:11:46:13 - 00:11:47:13

Carrie Kwan

It goes both ways.

00:11:48:05 - 00:12:02:08

Lucy Kippist

You know, it sounds like you've got such a big heart, Lenka. You've linked a part of your business journey with arriving in Australia, and we know that approximately a third of businesses are started in Australia by women with a migrant background like yourself.

How do you think that starting a new life and a business in a new country has brought to your experience of running your own small business?

00:12:14:08 - 00:12:27:14

Lenka Porubska

That's a very interesting statistic. I think that living in a different country where you know you need to adjust to the culture, you need to get to know people, you need to become a part of the community gives you that extra drive. I think that helps because it's not like you've got connections. It's not like you have many friends, you don't have family that will help you when you starting a business. You need to do a lot yourself and you need to be extra motivated. So that helps. Even starting to live somewhere new and trying to become a part of the community, I think we do have that extra drive and it also depends on your upbringing. 

I come from a country where I was born into communism, and we are being taught to be fighters, to fight for ourselves, to be strong. Because, if you don't go and get that job, there are ten other people waiting to get it. So we have a sense of being a warrior to survive. We really go and grab every chance and we go for it. So. So if I can speak for myself, I think I'm a warrior.

00:13:46:24 - 00:13:53:19

Lucy Kippist

This fantastic way to put it. And you've got an incredible work ethic and that comes out in the way that you speak about your business.

00:13:54:09 - 00:14:00:13

Carrie Kwan

Would love to ask Lenka, is there anything that you do daily that contributes to your sense of well-being?

00:14:00:22 - 00:14:21:21

Lenka Porubska

The most important part of my day is my morning when I walk my dog and when I drink my coffee. I enjoy nature and most of all the beautiful weather. It's only half an hour where I get to switch off my phone and I just do nothing. Just walk and really enjoy myself. It's my kind of meditation. It's a part of my routine, and it's not going to change because I have to walk the dog.

I don't have to force myself into it. It's just something that that I do. And it brings me so much calmness and happiness in the morning and sets me up for a really nice day. 

00:14:53:23 - 00:15:05:16

Carrie Kwan

I hear a lot of leaders actually do something similar in terms of it being their own time, their quiet and their focus time. It's amazing that you've got an accountability partner as well.

00:15:06:15 - 00:15:19:12

Lucy Kippist

MMMore treats is a food based business and in what ways has that challenged you in terms of protecting your business from risk? And what are the kinds of processes you've put in place to protect it?

00:15:19:21 - 00:15:39:23

Lenka Porubska

I remember when I started the business and I didn't know much because I don't have a background in food. So I remember having these wild dreams about someone eating my treats and  getting sick or losing teeth. Although it was just dreams it made me so anxious. But being on this journey, I learned that there is public liability insurance.

So we've got all that and we are covered. But we also have health and safety certificates, and we do have safety procedures in place. Everything is recorded as part of our daily routine. As a food business and to be able to get bigger customers, you have to have this in place. So very early on when we moved into our own factory we implemented these and we have an audit every year. Everything is checked, signed off, and batch coded. We have traceability. We have everything in place and I learned a lot implementing these strategies.

00:16:54:15 - 00:17:03:10

Lucy Kippist

It's an interesting point that you say that you've learned a lot in that process because I can imagine it.

00:17:05:06 - 00:17:19:19

Carrie Kwan

For those who are considering starting a business, particularly as a migrant, what's the most important tip in growing a business for those that are considering?

00:17:20:04 - 00:17:37:00

Lenka Porubska

Even though I am a migrant, I don't really feel it here in Australia. I feel very much involved in communities. I don't feel any different to any Australian.

I keep saying this but talk about your passion. Don't feel the pressure of achieving big goals because if you set yourself up fora big achievement, you might fail big.

Enjoy the little wins and that will set you up for bigger growth because you will put your heart and soul into it. That's what will make you grow your business. For example, if you have a goal of having a certain turnover in one year or two years, it's then disappointing when you don't achieve it. But along the way you can achieve so much and you will not put any importance on it. And I think that's wrong. It depends on what kind of business you want to have. But if you want to have a business that you love and if you want to do what you love, then don't set unachievable goals or really big goals and then be disappointed. Just enjoy the journey.

00:18:49:08 - 00:19:02:19

Carrie Kwan

Great tip and I feel like there is that element of just have a go here. It’s that Australian spirit and I can see that you are literally having a go on your terms.

00:19:02:23 - 00:19:04:07

Lenka Porubska

Yeah, I'd like to think so.

00:19:04:08 - 00:19:18:06

Lucy Kippist

Lenka here at Mums & Co. we talk a lot about harmony as being a triangle of ambition, our livelihood and well being. How would you describe the shape of a good life for you?

00:19:18:15 - 00:19:41:07

Lenka Porubska

For me, it comes a lot to creating space for myself in this busy life, and it really helps me reconnect with myself. So if I have time for myself and if I have boundaries around not working from home it really helps me and makes me feel much less guilty. So I like to plan to be alone. 

It's funny because as I get older, I'm realizing that I am a little bit of an introvert. But what comes across through Instagram or social media is that I'm a very chatty and happy person, which I am. But I also need to recharge more and more. I find I can recharge with books and being in my own company. It’s very importantly for my own well-being to create that space for myself.

Nobody else can do it for you. So I try to be kind to myself. Every time I feel guilty about not putting enough energy into my business, I go back and ask myself, but what do you need to be able to give your business what it needs?

It took me a long time to get here and a long time to realise this. Because I used to work 18 hours a day, it was okay because I needed to. But there came a point when I realised that this is not the way to go anymore. I need to get recharged and reconnect to myself.

Time is the biggest value for me and it became very important for me. I value it so much. I hate being late. I hate other people being late because it's like it feels to me like they're not respecting my time. Or if I'm late, I feel like I’m not respecting other people's time especially when I know how valuable it is.

00:21:31:24 - 00:21:45:15

Lucy Kippist

Another beautiful answer! I feel like you have a motivational book in you. I love what you said about time. That's a value we hold so dearly here at Mums & Co as well. I think that once you've accepted in yourself that time is so important to you, you can't help but respect time for other people and it is a precious commodity now. Now more than ever.

00:21:58:02 - 00:22:10:02

Lenka Porubska

But you know what I find, so many people are still so flaky. That's something that is very frustrating for me. For example, if I commit to something, I do it. Especially when it involves other people. 

00:22:28:06 - 00:22:40:21

Lucy Kippist

I'd also like to ask you in the spirit of women supporting women, which you obviously do on a daily basis in your business. Who are the ambitious women around you that you'd like to say hello to?

00:22:41:04 - 00:22:57:09

Lenka Porubska

Well, as you mentioned, my neighbour and good friend Sarah Nelson, she's amazing. She's great because she connects people. She gets to know you and ask questions. She's an amazing person to be connected with. She has already introduced me to so many other women. So I would like to say hi to Sarah. 

Also to every single woman out there who thinks about starting a business who is running a business. I just want to say, you've got this girl! If anyone who's listening wants to talk about anything or wants some help please reach out. I would like to connect and help as much as I can.

00:23:32:09 - 00:23:33:03

Lucy Kippist

That’s so lovely.

00:23:33:08 - 00:23:42:11

Carrie Kwan

Well Lenka, your Instagram page is about to get busy.