Sable Instagram: @sable_org
Producing with Purpose Instagram: @producingwithpurpose
Noskin Instagram: @noskin.co
Today on Producing with Purpose, Presented by Noskin, we talk to Jonathan Sarandis, the co-founder of Sable. More than a plant based cafe in Richmond, Melbourne, Sable is the first step of a journey to create an organisation that is a pillar of the local community and gives back to animal rights organisations, a cause which is at the heart of the company.
2 years of planning, 2 weeks to open
We kick things off with an overview of how Sable came to live. Originally planned to be a vegan fashion label, similar in concept to Noskin, it was all about finding a business that could be a way for Jonathan to apply his knowledge, his drive, and his underlying desire to create an outlet for his beliefs.
Combining ideas with his sister, the brand for Sable developed and the pair eventually landed on the decision to open a plant based cafe, where they could create amazing products, change people’s attitudes to plant based foods and continue to support great animal based organisations with donations and publicity.
Opening the doors just at the start of the first Covid lockdown in Melbourne, it was interesting timing for Sable to open the doors.
After two years of refining the idea, it was a rapid process of only 2 weeks of actually opening the doors once a location became available, coinciding with an interesting time for the hospitality sector.
“In our eyes, anyone opening a business is taking a risk. For us, we had put everything into this. Either way it could have gone amazingly, or it could have failed in the first 12 months”
Funding a vision
We run through the approach to funding the business, which came down to self-funding as much as possible. Making sacrifices, cutting living expenses, moving in to one house and saving hard was the key to making Sable become a reality.
"This is the figure we think we need - let's double that to be safe"
Jonathan recaps that there were many opportunities over the two months for locations, but nothing felt quite right. It's always interesting to discuss the fine balance between jumping in to something and not being too cautious, but also knowing when you need to hold and wait for the right opportunity to tick those boxes, especially when you have one shot to make something work.
Signing a lease on a location that previous businesses hadn't succeeded in, there was a question mark over how the first 12 months would play out - but things felt right and the team opened the doors after a rapid turnaround.
The following weeks and months presented scenarios no one could have foreseen. A fast increasing pandemic spreading across the country and the world, city-wide lockdowns in place and somewhat surprisingly, a year of success for Sable that smashed all expectations, with customers flooding through the doors to support this newly opened business.
Taking the plunge and leaving your old life behind
As is always the case on this podcast - I use these conversations as an opportunity to get advice and open the discussion on something relevant to what's currently happening with Noskin. With a full Noskin launch on the horizon for June 2021 and a lot of work to be done before, it's time to take the plunge and make this project a full-time job, to give it every chance of success.
We talk about the differences between online business and hospitality, where there is the expectation with online business that you can run a full-time operation, in parallel to a full time job, to keep up the 'hustle'.
"The safety net itself can be so damaging"
Making the perfect product
"I'd never worked a day in hospitality, before my first day in my own [hospitality] business"
You don't always go into a new venture with extensive experience in the field, but spot and opportunity and task yourself with learning on the job. Jonathan talks about this process with Sable, where their cookies are hero products and bring new customers through the door every week. However, this was his first experience as a baker, a chef, a graphic designer and a business owner, but this reinforces just how important it is to have self belief that in most scenarios, if someone else can learn something - so can you.
This is an interesting parallel as I develop my knowledge working on Noskin, where so many skills of business management are transferable, but so many have to be learned, but it's the willingness to learn that gets you closer each day to realising a dream.
Whether it's learning how to bake the perfect cookie, or understand global freight schedules - the information is abundantly available for those who want to consume it.
The importance of interaction
With Instagram being a huge contributor to the success of Sable over the first 12 months, we talk about the importance of interaction with your customers and generating a community. This is a common theme I hear from everyone who comes on the show, where more and more we see that hiding behind the polished wall of slick professionalism isn't what generates the relationships. People want to buy from, and support people. This is a big part of the ethos of Noskin, and this podcast, where we want to share our passion for what we're producing, with every person who comes to the store or follows our social accounts.
Surviving the first 12 months
With advice and warnings coming from all angles that opening a hospitality business can be 2 to 3 years in the making before you can take a wage, combined with the common adage that a business will make or break in the first 12 months, it's interesting to hear how Sable have been the exception to the rule and created a thriving location from so early on.
Despite heavy lockdown and travel restrictions, Jonathan looked to the feedback of customers to know in the early days where the potential was in the business, where the number of customers was physically limited.
"I was looking for signs. It wasn't about 100 people coming in, it was about 'what are the 10 people coming in saying?'"
It's easy to get caught in the data and analytics of the first months to make projections, but the feedback, the body language and the excitement of the customers can give faith that the business has the potential, and it's just a case of waiting for the word of mouth snowball to happen.
Effort vs raw talent
"If you're that determined, you're going to achieve whatever result it is that you want"
There are many businesses that come from years of experience or training - but there are many where the talent is not in the final product, but in the entrepreneurial sprit to press go on making something more than an idea.
We talk about the development of skills and the power of learning from people every day to refine your own skillsets.
Based on Jonathan's history of competing in bodybuilding competitions, we assess the parallels between this time in his life and his approach to business, where discipline, effort and consistency are the key factors to making small gains each day, to eventually become the top competitor.
Jonathan talks about the power of setting micro goals and deadlines, and how these compound into much greater achievements.
All of this effort and development leads us to talking about the future of Sable. With a very clear goal to expand into multiple locations and a scalable model, there is potential for impressive growth in the coming years.
Not losing the original idea of expanding Sable as a wider brand, there is still the prospect of developing Sable into wider areas of hospitality and even fashion in the future.
As you'll have heard in this episode, I'm a genuine fan of Sable as a location and whole heartedly recommend you visit if you can.
If you're outside of the area and can't make it in for a visit, please do follow Sable on Instagram and show your support for a business that really are dedicated to improving every day.