Audrey Allard is a pastry chef who has worked at bakeries, patisseries, fine dining restaurants and croissanteries.
During the pandemic, she started a smash-hit dessert box delivery service that would evolve into a fully-fledged cake shop, Holy Sugar, in Northcote, which has now just entered its second year of trading.
Here she is with her thoughts on opening a customer-facing business, one year on.
My business, Holy Sugar, is best known for… Holy Sugar is probably best known for either our Basque cheesecake or flower-shaped French crullers. They’re our best sellers and have been on the menu since day one.
How did Holy Sugar first come to be?
Holy Sugar started as a side hustle in 2020 that operated out of a shared kitchen in Collingwood. After a few years of weekly dessert boxes, I knew it was time to finally open up a shop.
How has the Holy Sugar team grown since then?
For the first few years I was a sole trader. I hired my first staff member a year ago, and we now have four employees and are currently searching for the fifth. It’s still such a small team; I have quite a large workload due to this.
I celebrated Holy Sugar’s one-year anniversary by… Honestly, I didn’t celebrate Holy Sugar’s birthday. It was such a crazy week for me, and I was still trying to recover mentally from Mother’s Day. I’ll celebrate its second birthday for sure.
Some challenges I’ve faced have been balancing career and social life! It’s been pretty isolating owning a business at such a young age, and being the asset in the business means it takes constant work to keep everything running.
My greatest supporters have been… honestly, my neighbouring shop owners, customers and employees.
An unexpected new skill I’ve learnt is the ability to say no and set boundaries. I’m such a people pleaser, but I’m learning to say no.
The piece of equipment I never knew I needed is a coffee machine. We went about eight months with just filter as I wasn’t ready to install and organise a coffee machine and hire baristas but wow – I’m glad we finally have one. Allpress is amazing.
If someone asked me for advice on opening their new venue, I would tell them… I probably would say just go at your own pace, listen to your intuition and do what you feel is right.
I’m most proud of… I’ll be honest, it’s hard to answer questions like this as I feel like I haven’t been able to step back and really observe what I’ve created.
I had a meeting with a new accountant recently and they said, “Audrey, you’re doing so well to be doing all of this on your own”. That was kind of the first time I realised I’m on the right track. I’m working on enjoying the fruits of my labour.
I’m excited about the future because we’re in the process of hiring a qualified pastry chef. It’s not going to happen overnight and I don’t want to rush the process, but when it happens, it’s going to free up so much time for me to focus on other aspects of the business.
There’s so much I want to achieve, so many ideas running around in my head. I just need some extra hands in the kitchen so I can follow through with them!