Moustache caught my eye and stomach at the same time. In my half-year venture to the land of New Zealand, I had the pleasure of discovering the milk and cookie shop and indulged myself on more than several occasions. The interior is a real experience, with milk bottles creating a chandelier of lights, reminding me a lot of the effort Johnny Cupcakes puts into their physical stores. The employees are genuine, going out of their way to converse, and the branding of the shop has been pulled off beautifully.
Moustache has used Facebook to consolidate a community of cookie-lovers and sees a striking level of traction within. The impressive part: they have only been open for eight months. The master-mind behind all this baking glory is entrepreneur Deanna Yang, who lit the fuse less than a year ago. Coming across a successful business that maintains its generosity and organic vibe is a special thing, and it became immediately apparent to me that Deanna just “gets it” when it comes to branding. I felt almost obliged to reach out and soak up some perspective, which Deanna provided me with during our chat last month. I wanted to know, HOW?
It’s pretty evident upon meeting Deanna that Moustache is her brainchild. Her personality is as warm as her cookies and she says that the first ingredient in creating something like Moustache is a passion for people. Right down to the hiring process, Deanna favored personality over experience, and it makes sense. Customers want to spend time in the shop, and this is because the right people are inside creating an inviting and engaging environment. Case in point, when I arrived to chat with Deanna, there was a line out the door of hungry people and it took me five minutes to even get inside.
“Sometimes we get so busy and you serve hundreds and hundreds of people and if you don’t like people or you’re not passionate about them, you’re just going to be grumpy all day. So I think the most important thing is a love for people. Everything else you can kind of teach”
Humanizing Social Media
Deanna had the personable and consistent social media strategy down from the jump. Moustache’s Cookie of the Week is wildly popular and the status to the right is just an example of the traction each post gets. Over 1,000 likes on one post out of the 13,000 something fans sure isn’t bad. My initial observations of the brand led me to believe their Facebook fan-base had accumulated pretty linearly after perhaps taking a couple months to even gain any awareness at all. On the contrary, Deanna says, “in the first month alone we had over 7,000 Facebook likes”. That astounds me. On why she thinks the page blew up like it did:
“Originally it was a novel idea. It was fun and everyone could get attached to the idea. After that, people could see that it was a small business, and it was genuine, and we use quality products. As we developed the social media page, you could see our quirkiness and character come through. I think two weeks after we opened we had an ASPCA drive where if you brought in a can of cat or dog food you got a free cookie. A lot of people feel a much stronger community connection from things like that. People don’t get attached to business, they get attached to people“
Milk+Cookies. Simple but immediately recognizable, this no-brainer combo gives Moustache a much more self-identifying character than if they were framed as another cookie shop. You don’t even HAVE to get milk, but the celebration of the pair triggers something in my mind. Maybe it’s nostalgia for the ‘dunk’, or maybe it’s the combo I enjoy at home but have yet to see explored in the service industry. Either way, Deanna had a definitive vision for the theme and aesthetics of the shop that came from her childhood fervor for the duo. Every physical piece in the shop ties into a dependable environment which radiates an upbeat, ’90s New Zealand vibe. Deanna admits she had almost no money for designing the shop, but her unique vision clearly made an impression on a local architectural company who drew such an interest in the project that they were willing to do the design work for free. That’s gotta be pretty validating.
“A lot of the design is based on my childhood in 1990s New Zealand when we used to get milk delivered in bottles. The back wall is all yellow because yellow is my favorite color. It is quite happy feeling, which is a reflection of my personality. Whittaker’s is my favorite and that’s why I only use Whittaker’s chocolate. All along I wanted it to be a little shop and to be super aesthetically pleasing.”
Humanize your business. Have a vision. Keep it simple. Moustache had these ingredients on lock immediately and I’m genuinely excited to see where Deanna will take her vision in the months and years to come. You can find out more about Moustache at moustache.co.nz and follow Deanna’s blog at moustachenz.tumblr.com.