I’m Andrea, owner of The Cooking Collective; a cooking blog and subscription marketplace. I live in beautiful East Gippsland, Victoria with my husband Luke and our four kids. I am currently on maternity leave, but work part-time in a government job that I have had for almost 15 years. 

I am (and always have been) a super passionate home cook. Mostly because I love eating good food, but also because I love to make other people happy with food.

Tell me a bit about what you were doing before you got in contact with Business Jump?

I have been working in my government career, which I have loved, for almost 15 years. Once we started having kids, I stepped back to part time hours so that I could care for them. That was great, but it meant a drop in our family income. I started looking into something that I could run from home that would challenge me and also create an extra income that was more flexible around my new role of ‘mum’. My aim was to eventually match my full-time wages with something that also balanced around my family.

Why did you want to start your own business, what is your why?

I have four kids under the age of 9, so I physically can’t be at my day job any more hours than I already am. And to be honest, I don’t want to be. I wanted to be present and enjoy my time with my kids, but also to be challenged and grow something that works for me that will eventually give us more choices. My husband also works really hard, so my biggest aim is for us to be semi-retired and enjoy travelling with our kids. I knew what I wanted, but I really didn’t know where to start- or the first thing about how to run a website!

My other “why” is to help busy families just like us! I figure that if I am short on time to make school lunches, dinners and everything else, then other families must struggle with the same problems. My goal is to help families save time and money so that they can enjoy more quality time together.

How long had you wanted to start a business before you actually took action and took the

Since becoming a mum, I had always explored different ways to grow a business from home because I truly think it’s the smartest way to have the best of both worlds- a rewarding and challenging career as well as the ability to be around my kids, dictate my own hours and create something to be proud of. I could see that there was more out there than traditional work roles where you trade your time for money. I have always seen the potential of growing something online alongside that.

If you hadn’t of started your own business what do you think you’d be doing right now?

I still work in my government career, so if I hadn’t taken the leap to get started, I would definitely still be doing that, but also wondering “what if”! Once the idea was hashed out with the help of Business Jump, it was something I couldn’t ignore. I would probably be kicking myself for not trying!

What have you done differently because of Business Jump that you wouldn’t have done if

To be honest, without Business Jump, my dream would still be a dream. I was a complete rookie in terms of how to start a website and how to monetise my idea. I didn’t know the first thing about starting (and running) a website, blogging, SEO, marketing or anything really. I wouldn’t have had the knowledge to set that up on my own, even if the desire was there. Having Business Jump guide me through this process has been the reason I’m here now. I’m lucky enough to have a huge team of designers, mentors, marketers, coaches and cheerleaders on my side!

Tell us about your business?

The Cooking Collective is a blog to help busy parents reduce stress, save money and find more time in their day by providing easy and healthy lunchbox recipes and tips, healthy party food options, quick and easy dinners, kitchen organisation and baking inspiration. It also provides a one-stop shop for food-related gifts, eco friendly and kids’ products, kitchenware and home organisation.

How did it feel when you got the reins to your business to take out into the world?

Really exciting and just a little overwhelming! I had my fourth baby the same month that my business was handed over, so to say that it was a busy time was an understatement! But, when you know, you know. I was only overwhelmed for a moment, because I knew that even though I didn’t know how to do anything, everything could be learned. My mindset was solid and it was so exciting to start putting my hard work out there and have such a wonderful response! 

How many hours a week do you work on your business?

Not as much as I’d like, because I have a toddler and new baby at home and I’m really enjoying my time with them while they are little. It goes so fast! I sneak pockets of time here and there when my baby is sleeping. That will evolve and increase as my kids get older, but I accept that I can only do what I can do right now. I would say around 10-20 hours per week.

What are some of your most special ‘business wins’ you’ve had to date?

Having my recipes “out there” online and being made, shared and loved by others still blows my mind! The fact that they are being well received and enjoyed makes me so happy. I still get a big smile every time someone sends me a photo or message after they have tried something new. 

Having one of my food blogger idols share one of my recipes with her audience of 180K viewers was pretty amazing and such great validation that I was on the right track! We’ve been in contact and she has offered support and is so lovely. It’s great to know there are so many strong, successful businesswomen in the business community who genuinely want you to succeed and cheer you on.

I would have to say that one of the biggest ‘wins’ I’ve had is just learning how to run my website and how far I have come in general! Before I started, I had never written a blog, I didn’t know how to run a website, I had to google what ‘SEO’ meant- and now my site is out there in the world, people are finding it and using it and my audience is growing! It is something that I am so proud of. 

Where do you want to be in 5 years?

In five years time, I would like to be helping as many people as possible find a love for cooking, save time and get organised in the kitchen. I am also passionate about cooking with kids and healthy school lunches (and I’ll admit to having a love for some not-so-healthy baking too!) and would like to release some successful ebooks around this. I will have a successful, booming online business which will create more flexibility for my husband and I to travel with our kids and enjoy the special time that we have with them.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone thinking about starting their business?

If you have a desire to start something of your own, but don’t know whether you could do it, trust your gut and give it a try! You will never know unless you do. Running your own business is not easy and it takes hard work, but if you make a commitment to learn and dedicate the time and energy required to nurture it, the rewards are life-changing. 

 Where can we find you?

Website – www.thecookingcollective.com.au/

Facebook – www.facebook.com/thecookingcollectiveau/

Pinterest – www.pinterest.com.au/thecookingcollective/

Instagram – www.instagram.com/thecookingcollectiveau/

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