From Public Servant To Vegan Dessert Queen

From high-profile public servant to food blogger. Anthea Cheng shares her start up story...

How did you start your business

Around 6-7 years ago, I was working in a high-profile Government Department in Canberra. I wanted to connect with more like-minded people so I created an Instagram account and blog ‘Rainbow Nourishments’ which shared my everyday food and creations. Within a year, my social media and blog grew so I took the leap and quit my full-time job! People thought I was crazy to quit but I had to follow my gut. Over the years, Rainbow Nourishments grew into a sustainable online business reaching millions of people every month, a cake business and I published a popular cookbook!

What were the steps you took to grow your business

Building Rainbow Nourishments was pretty chaotic in the first few years! For the cake business side, I started making cakes for cafes and individuals in my small studio apartment with a 1x1 m kitchen. When my client-base grew, I moved to a bigger kitchen and hired assistants! For the online side, I consistently posted content on social media and on my blog. I constantly tried improve my knowledge of food (particularly desserts as it’s my specialty) and photography skills. Most importantly, I just kept working!

When did you realise this business had potential to go big

In the first few months of quitting my Government job, I was earning money from my cake business and social media sponsorships and thought ‘This is pretty cool! If I keep this up, it’d be a great business model!’

What mistakes did you make in the early days

I really under-priced myself at the beginning. However, it forced me to adopt a business mindset and taught me the value of my time, with work and rest! I wouldn’t consider it a mistake but a learning opportunity 😊. However, I wish I outsourced parts of my cake business earlier. I acquired a few physical injuries from the early days which would’ve been alleviated if I asked for help.

What are the key components to your success

Very hard work, picking my battles, consistency and having a good peer support network within my industry.

What are three top tips that you would share to someone starting out.

1. Find a niche and your point of difference. Your point of difference needs to offer value to a decent amount of people (or realistically, people who can pay).

2. Be persistent and keep showing up. However, if something isn’t working, it’s really important to step back and re-evaluate why. For example, even though my cake business was popular, I eventually closed it due to injuries and because I preferred the online side of my business. This enabled me to do what I truly love!

3. Be kind to yourself! People usually only talk about their highlights on social media and in real life. It’s unfair to compare yourself with just those highlights.