The Gen Y Series: Tahlia Mandie
Through her second startup, Kakadu Plum Co., Tahlia Mandie is bringing Australia’s native bush tucker superfoods to our every day lives. She is driven to make a difference to the Australian native superfood industry and Aboriginal Communities and donates a percentage of profits to community projects across remote areas of Australia.
How did the idea for Kakadu Plum Co come about?
About 2 years ago I saw superfoods going a little crazy, especially Matcha and Acai and other international products. I asked myself if Australia had its own native superfood, knowing instinctively about bush tucker. After a little research I discovered the Kakadu Plum and was shocked that we had not been talking about this and using this amazing product amongst mainstrem culinary cafes and health food stores. I knew I had to get this product to market and so Kakadu Plum Co. was born.
What persuaded you to quit your job and make it a reality?
I never really had a “normal job”…. Whatever normal job is these days. Before Kakadu Plum Co. I had a previous tech startup that I was running for over 18 months until we decided to shut it down and call it quits. I have always really been driven to run my own businesses and entrepreneurial journey.
How did you overcome the fear of doing something new?
I learnt a lot from my previous startup so I had a little background of starting a business to grow on. With many failures and mistakes previously I kind of had an idea of what NOT to do. Starting your own business is a little scary, but if your passion and enthusiasm is there, you can make anything happen. No one ever achieved anything by sitting back and waiting for it to happen. Just go and do it.
Tell us what projects you’re currently working on?
We have just launched our new product Lemon Myrtle with Kakadu Plum. This is really exciting. We are constantly thinking about “whats next” and what else we can do to make a difference and impact to the Australian native food industry and Aboriginal communities. Currently 10% of all products sold from now until Christmas will go back to Twin Lakes Cultural Park, the community we are closely connected to in the Kimberleys. Next year… stay tuned for some more exciting native food superfood products.
What excites you most about working in social enterprise?
In business you have the ability to make a difference. People think you have to give large amounts of money back or all profits… social enterprise is all about making an impact with the work you do. I strongly believe by getting more and more people excited about our Kakadu Plum and native Australian superfoods on a whole we are making a movement toward supporting local Australian brands, produce and farmers. It is exciting every day to see this movement grow and expand, locally and internationally.
What’s the big dream?
To have a range of products that highlight and celebrate our native foods that create a change and impact with every bite.
How will you get there?
Persistence, patience, dedication and love .
How can people get involved with what you're doing? Is there anything you need help with?
Simply by buying our products is getting involved, either through our website or through your local health food store or café. If your health food store doesn’t stock our products, ask them. Buying our products and supporting our native food industry is a simple change you can make on a daily basis.
What advice would you give to people who might also want to start a social enterprise?
Love what you do and build on that. Think about what you are passionate about and where your heart strings are drawn to. Take the plunge and just go for it. There are heaps of online resources and groups that help social enterprise businesses along the way too. Don’t be scared.
What keeps you up at night?
My children. Ha.
One thing you wish you had learnt five years ago?
I don’t like to live with regrets. Live for today, learn from the past and move forward positively.
What have been your biggest challenges to date (in your career and personally)?
The biggest challenge and biggest joy at the same time is raising my children, while also managing and growing a business. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. Having the flexibility to be a mum, go to swimming days for my daughter, my sons concert and picking them up from school is the best thing ever.
How have you dealt with these?
Care for yourself daily.
If you had to pick one, what's the one issue / problem you most wish you could solve?
Currently I am trying to solve our attitude toward Australian products and native Australian produce over international products and competitors. Asking people to choose a Kakadu Plum Smoothie Bowl over an Acai Bowl…. We are getting there.
Favourite way to relax: On a daily basis I wind down (after the kids are in bed) and like to relax in front of the TV watching usually mindless and crappy TV. Ha.
Ideal Holiday spot: We always love Noosa. I grew up going to Noosa and now we go annually with the kids. Love that place.
One Hot tip: Don’t lose the ‘fun’ in what you do.