THE AMBITION SERIES: MEET ROMANA + MELISA
Posted on 14 August 2017
This month I was lucky enough to sit down with the girls from The Wild, meet Romana and Melisa, founders of Melbourne's most popular organic breakfast favorites! This is their story of how they have eaten their way around the world and turned their love for food into a successful business! I hope their story inspires you!
Who are the people behind The Wild and what do you do?
Romana: Wow big question. Who am I?! What I do is lot easier to answer. The Wild is what I do. We are an internationally distributed organic, gf + vegan cereal brand. I manage the sales and distribution arm of the business and Mel handles manufacturing and all the back of house tasks. I'm not that great at crossing my t's and dotting my i’s so she handles all the paperwork etc. ;)
Melisa: I am a health obsessed girl with a passion for helping others reach their health goals, be it through food or lifestyle. It really lights me up to speak about all things health related. I am the co-founder of The Wild and I am studying Integrative Nutrition at the moment. I have a Communication Design background so being creative in any way is my true purpose.
How did you get started?
Well, Mel and I set off on 6 month long trip about 5 years ago, knowing we wanted to start something when we got back. Cereal just became the obvious option as it became our daily routine to gather ingredients on our morning walk through various cities around the world and create blends to enjoy for breakkie. When we returned home we toyed with the idea of doing a breakfast food truck, but then friends of ours had a cafe and asked us for one of our blends and it really just stemmed from there, we decided, why not build a brand?! We started out mixing with a basic food permit in Mels apartment in South Yarra supplying a couple of cafes, 4 years later we have a factory in Cheltenham where we supply cafes and retailers nationally as well as a couple of international customers.
Where can we find your product?
What have been your highlights to date?
Romana: The business is constantly evolving, so the highlights obviously change with it. The most recent highlight for me would be starting to create custom blends for other businesses. We have recently evolved into a food innovation company, where we can work with clients through every stage of the manufacturing process, from concept to product development, packaging design and production all the way through to the solution and final product. This really allows Mel and I to do what we love, which is be more creative and work more together.
Melisa: Eating delicious cereal with my ‘sista’ Romana one day and setting up an Australian cereal brand the next! So four years on my favourite things are creating products and developing concepts around food and health. And like Romana I'm also excited about where things are heading for our company.
What were the challenges you encountered when starting up?
Romana: There are so many challenges when starting a business. Knowing where to start is one of them. You’re basically trying to find a light switch in the dark if it’s your first business. It gets easier but your constantly being challenged and learning new things.
Melisa: My challenge is working on things that don’t align to my true strengths - like paperwork. And when running your own business wearing so many hats becomes a daily occupation. To switch from rational to creative thinking can be tricky.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Romana: We spoke and still speak to as many people as we can. We also started a business academy about a year ago and that has really helped us grow, learn and develop our business skills.
Melisa: Everyday there are new challenges so having a mindset that doesn’t stress the small stuff is so important.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue a passion?
Romana: Have deep pockets and a lot patience. Everything costs more and takes longer than you think it will, but the reward is worth the wait.
Melisa: I would say to plan ahead for savings so that you lessen the stress during the development process, as you can’t rush it and it is likely to take longer than you might expect. Secondly it helps to work in partnership/ group as it forces you to step up to the plate while also lessening the load on small business owners who have to wear many hats in the course of a day. And thirdly try to do something you love, as it can get very tricky to pour love into something, day in and day out, if your heart isn’t in it.
To what do you attribute your success?
Romana: Honestly we have hustled and pushed so much. We are constantly doing events, samplings, trying to think of different ways to expand the brand and get it more exposure. We are always evolving and open to change and I think that is probably the key thing.
Melisa: Persistence pays off. Also diversifying and evolving all the time to suit what is happening in the market place.
How do balance work and life?
Romana: You have to make time for you. In a small business the business is an extension of you so it’s really important that you take the time to detach from it. I like to get outside, it grounds me. I always start my day with a morning walk, always make time for the gym, my dog, family and my friends.
Melisa: I add small and simple things into my daily routine - like taking time to enjoy a superfood latte in the morning while sitting my couch before getting into any work. I also love oil pulling in the morning as it quietens my house, my mood and therefore my mind., Also weekly yoga and light resistance training are a part of my routine.. Walking is also something that clears my head and keeps me grounded during busy times. And I love to learn about health so I’m like a sponge when it comes to health and well-being.
What’s your grand ambition?
Romana: To have created a company that is true to its ethos and is an inspiring place for people to work. For myself I would like to be be able to work 3 days a week from anywhere in the world, and have enough money to support the lifestyle I want live.
Melisa: To do what feels right in my body and mind daily, be it through business or my personal life.
Follow Romana and Melisa's journey: