Interview with Choice Cooperative (closed in 2015)
Choice Cooperative Cafe & Bakery started out with a dream to be Hong Kong’s first Healthy Gluten Free Bakery. We work closely with health professionals to make sure our range is nutrient dense and more importantly, ‘Healthy, Nutritious & Delish’! Our venue is home to Hong Kong’s first large indoor playground, to promote healthy play whilst also relaxing with the family.
What was your inspiration to start the business? When did you start?
We launched late 2013, and my inspiration came from not having enough healthy choices in Hong Kong. I found that a lot of the Gluten Free selections available weren’t in fact healthy or good for you, so I became intrigued as to how I could launch this within Hong Kong.
How long did it take you to set up your business (from idea to market)? What was involved from the perspective of getting the space, redoing it, decorating etc.?
It took about two and half years of research along with development. The process of understanding licensing and business registrations within the food and beverage industry proved to be a lot of hard work. In hindsight we now know what we would do differently, in order to be more efficient.
Why the kids area? (I really love this area by the way! The best indoor playground in HK!)
The kids area is really important, because as parents ourselves we were frustrated at not having a comfortable place to eat good healthy food whilst the children could move about, without any other diners getting fed up that the kids were loud, or really just being kids. We wanted to offer a place where it was perfectly acceptable to just let kids be … kids! The important thing was to mix the healthy foods with healthy play.
What excites you most about your business?
The fact that our customers, whether wholesale or at the café, are coming back and thanking us for what we have created. I always love getting back into the test kitchen and continuing to create amazing healthy, nutritious and delish recipes that provide real nourishment!
Where do you source the ingredients from?
I get most of my ingredients from overseas as HK doesn’t have their own gluten free flour mills yet. However, wherever we can, we support local businesses, especially those with the same vision as Choice!
How many employees do you have?
We currently have 11 employees
What were/are your biggest challenges?
Getting through a quiet month, when you have to meet MOQs that suppliers have; it’s tough, but we are finding ways to get creative!
Who are your go to business mentor(s) in HK?
I love: Peggy Chan from Grassroots Pantry & Prune; Chef Priscilla Soligo from Rawthentic and Chef Cali Goh from Anything But Salads; LantauMama and Louise Kane Buickley; these ladies inspire me and are always first to jump in and help with their great guidance. Also my business partner, who is Jeff Follick from Catering Depot!
Who does your marketing? PR? Web Design? Can you recommend any vendors that you’ve enjoyed working with? In my previous life, as I like to call it, I worked in PR and Marketing, so I tend to do all in-house marketing and PR! As for design, I used ‘The Little Flying Studio’ to help create our logo and on an ongoing basis I work with Lisa Kate Ackerman from Isibini Design.
How do you promote your business online and offline?
Facebook Facebook Advertising Email (to your list) Twitter Paid search SEO Mobile Coupons PR Word of mouth
What languages is your business in?
All languages … it’s a cafe and bakery!
Update: June 3, 2015 – Choice Cooperative closed down by the owner for personal reasons.
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