How suburban bakery Goldelucks became an online gifting success story
Goldelucks – a suburban bakery turned online gifting business – has seen its sales skyrocket from $98,000 in 2020 to more than $1.5 million within a year. The business’ story is one of triumph over adversity.
Owner Phillip Kuoch’s parents were Khmer Rouge refugees from Cambodia and had always dreamt about starting their own business. “Ever since I was young, I remember them discussing opening a fish and chip shop, bakery or laundromat – basically anything,” Kuoch recalls.
When the opportunity came for them to take over a bakery in the Melbourne suburb of Croydon, they put together all the family’s savings and snapped it up. “But, as luck would have it, my dad’s health worsened and my mum became his full-time carer, which meant they could no longer commit to it,” Kuoch bemoans. Instead of watching their dreams be shattered, Kuoch took what he describes as the “naïve” decision of stepping in and running the bakery without any prior business or bakery experience.
After 12 months of no sleep and constant practising, Goldelucks won the bronze medal at a national baking competition, which led to him opening pop-up stores around Melbourne.
“I think we’ve been successful on TikTok because we’ve cut through all the heavily curated marketing by just being authentic.”
Kuoch realised that as a small business he couldn’t afford to expand rapidly and that going online would be the fastest way to reach more customers outside of Croydon. “So, I started an online gift delivery service in Melbourne and would drive to the city to drop off the orders at a co-sharing space I rented out so that couriers could pick them up,” Kuoch says. “If we were lucky, sometimes we’d get five orders, but we averaged a couple a day for the first year.”
When Covid-19 struck, however, Kuoch had the infrastructure already in place to scale up. “Even though I was stressed out about the prospect of our three retail shops being forced to close, I had a gut feeling at the time that this was a massive opportunity for Goldelucks,” he explains. “People were going to need to celebrate and stay connected. In the year before Covid-19, our online channel generated just $98,000 in sales, but in 2020, this skyrocketed to over $1.5 million.”
At the peak of lockdown, with bricks-and-mortar bakeries having to close their doors, Goldelucks was making a delivery every 51 seconds.
“Since the start of the pandemic, we have constantly been growing year-on-year, even since the lockdowns ended,” Kuoch enthuses. “We thrive on feedback and our customers always tell us how much they love our service and offering. It blows my mind that we now have customers all around Australia, even internationally – all this starting out from our little store in the little suburb of Croydon.”
Throughout 2021, Goldelucks continued to focus on growing its e-commerce channel. When it launched the cake explosion box – which became its best-selling offering – the team ordered stock it projected to last three months, only to see it sell out within 10 days.
Goldelucks continues to garner more and more customers, thanks recently, in no small part, to TikTok.
“To be honest, my only strategy on TikTok was to put my face to the brand for the first time and share my journey and my story,” Kuoch admits. He was unaware before he started the campaign that his videos would reach hundreds of millions of people and help put Goldelucks on the map on a national level.
“I think we’ve been successful on TikTok because we’ve cut through all the heavily curated marketing by just being authentic,” he explains. “For the first time, our customers felt like they knew who they were purchasing from, especially at a time when Australians want to support local business.”
This success has put Kuoch in a position to keep pushing the brand’s expansion. Goldelucks recently purchased its own warehouse in Melbourne.
“We have plans to grow more nationally and in a couple of years’ time I would love to see a local distribution warehouse in all the major cities and offer on-demand gifting nationally,” Kuoch says.
- This article first appeared in issue 37 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine