Husk BakeryHusk Bakery Owner, Aaron Clark, has overcome bushfires, hailstorms and now COVID-19 to see his business succeed.
During the bushfires, he was worried customers wouldn’t come to his market stall at the Capital Region Farmers Market and The Southside Farmers Market on the weekends due to the bushfire smoke. Then, a huge hail storm damaged the refrigeration unit and needed repair. Once that was fixed, Covid-19 hit and he needed to start making money during the middle of a pandemic as people weren’t visiting the farmers’ markets.

With the lockdown happening a lot of other food businesses were focused on home delivery, but Aaron wanted to add a twist and make it a bit more fun for everyone.
“I was watching an old TV show and saw a Mr Whippy van come on and I thought that would get everyone’s attention as I drive down the road,” says Aaron.
It was then that he decided he could take his van to his customers. He launched the Husk Bakery van so that he could deliver fresh bread, pies and pastries to hungry customers across Canberra.
Aaron, who has been a baker for 15 years, comments: “We were very close to calling it quits after the air unit broke on the van, but launching the mobile Husk Bakery has turned things around for me. When I first started, it was myself, a pastry chef and a couple of assistants. Since Covid-19 hit and I launched the mobile bakery van, I have grown to have 7 employees. If it all continues to go well, I might even expand with another truck, in which case I will need another 2 or 3 staff.

HuskBakery2 CBN300x200Reaching new customers

Aaron says he has repeat customers in the suburbs that he regularly visits – Kambah on Wednesdays and Moncrieff and Casey on Fridays.
“Half the sales are regular customers. A lot of the customers I have don’t visit the Farmer’s Markets on a weekend, so this allows me to reach an entirely new customer group. I have picked up a lot of interest in my bakery by doing this.
“Being mobile has made the bakery more accessible to people who are older or who have transport issues. I have also served quite a few people who never go to bakeries, but because I’m coming to their door it is so convenient.”
Aaron says that customers love hearing their chimes play when they drive down their street.
“The kids at first think it’s the ice-cream van. I had a message through social media from a teacher saying the kids at recess were playing ‘the Husk game’ pretending to drive around and deliver croissants to their friends”.

Batman and the Joker: Canberrans working from home

Aaron has a unique perspective of Canberrans working from home during COVID-19.
“I have had a lot of people come to the van in their pyjamas; I even had a lady open the door butt naked to see what was going on. On Friday’s around Moncrieff there must be people who dress up in costume for work calls as I have even had people come out to the truck dressed as the Joker and Batman,” laughs Aaron.

Planning for growth

The next step for Aaron is opening a shopfront.
“I am sharing a bakery with a friend of mine, but due to demand I now don’t have enough room so I’m limited to what I can make. I’m hoping to get a shopfront and then another truck running so that I can visit two suburbs in one day.
Aaron says his business has actually grown through all these challenges.
“It took a lot of hard work and a lot of luck, but I said let’s give this a go and see if it works. The biggest thing coming out of this is that people know my bakery now. I’ve gone from having 400 followers on Facebook to more than 5000. I’ve now got a name for myself”.
This brought a new challenge - communicating to his customers where he would be each day. “Social media has been a blessing and very effective in helping my business grow. We would be able to communicate directly with customers and communicate to them the areas we would be visiting, but there was something missing. Then I discovered Locate2U, which helps me do everything in one place and I share a link on social media every day so that customers can track my live location.”
“One thing I am looking at is visiting more retirement homes once things settle down. I go to a retirement home in Kambah every second week and they love it. They often can’t get out to have some of this yummy stuff unless one of their family members takes them to a bakery. It’s a special treat and they love my pies. They buy 18 at a time at this retirement home I go to. I guess it’s an easy meal for them”.

Husk Bakery3 CBN300x200Where can you find the Husk Van?

“We go to Kambah on Wednesdays, on Thursdays, we take requests for suburbs from customers, on Fridays we visit Moncrieff and Casey, then the farmers’ markets at weekends,” says Aaron.
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