Meet Sophie Todd, founder of Mrs Toddy’s Tonic, plant based health tonics. Sophie manages to imbue the smallest details into her fantastic tonic whilst maintaining a big, global vision. That’s impressive – I don’t see that often amongst female founders.
Sophie created Mrs Toddy’s Tonic after living in Bali and now manufactures it on a commercial scale and sells it at the markets (to keep abreast of what consumers are saying), high street retailers and speciality. stores.
Sophie also uses her custom beverage manufacturing facility to make for others. Another big thinking move of Sophie’s.
In this interview Sophie shares with us what she’s learnt about the drinks industry and how to pay yourself even when revenue is tight in the early years.
Your business name: Mrs Toddy’s Tonic
How would you describe the business you are in?
Mrs Toddy’s Tonic is plant-based tonics creating healthy drink alternatives that provide goodness when drinking.
They are based on Eastern philosophy medicine which came about from my time living in Bali.
I started making Jamu in 2016 in my kitchen and the rest is history.
What do you love about your work?
I love to see how far I have come since I started making my Jamu (Indonesian Health Tonic) in our short term rental from when I returned back home from Bali. I now co-manufacturer for a range of beverage brands creating small runs. I often pinch myself at how far I have come since 2017.
What part of your job would you gladly give away?
The cleaning after manufacturing. I have only started to part with the mundane side of the business being the production so I can focus on the big picture side of the business.
For the past 20 months, I have been the one who has completed the entire process from start to finish. Physically it’s completely exhausting.
If you were starting out in business again today, what piece of advice would you give your younger you?
Test test test the market.
Sometimes you think you have a winner and sometimes you don’t. Always try to get a stand at your local farmers’ market and get customer feedback. Always tweak your recipe until you see an expression of love on someone else’s face when they try your product. Make sure your quality is top-notch with the view once you commercialize you can achieve this.
Women start businesses 41% of the time to solve a problem. Sometimes this means we have a great vision but don’t have enough resources to sustain our business for the long term. Tell us what resources you started your business with eg. money saved, business premises, business partner, and how long before you started paying yourself?
If you don’t pay yourself a wage from the beginning of your journey, at any stage you get an investor or upscale your debt should be greater than it is on the P&L. You always need to start by paying yourself something so you can feel rewarded from the onset.
We started with money saved to allow me to start working on the business and at the markets. I then obtained some finance from family and friends to be able to open a small manufacturing facility.
At first, I was not sure about the prospect of opening my own facility as I was super small. Now however I have people coming to me who want small runs of 100 units produced for their beverage ranges. There is not a lot of premises that cater to small runs in the beverage industry. This has been a bonus for me. I realize now had I have outsourced my manufacturing from the beginning I would not be in business.
It’s a scary thought having 2000 units sitting there unsold. I can manufacture to suit the demand which is weekly. I pay myself randomly when the money comes in but always ensure when there is some left, there is some for me.
As you know we are passionate about women #backingthemselves. So tell us about a time in the last twelve months that you’re really proud of.
The day my competitor came knocking on my door asking me to manufacture for them. They said my quality is top-notch and no one manufactures to my standard. Most wonderful backhanded compliment ever.
I have just nailed a big retailer who will come on board in 2020. This will be a game-changer for my business.
As we are always growing and learning, what is the one thing you would like to take time to learn more about?
I never stop learning I am like a crazy scientist. I need to be able to focus on the marketing side of the business through Instagram to draw sales. I also have gone into this business with absolutely no understanding of how the food and beverage industry works. Every time I get the downtime I listen to podcasts like Taste Radio and look through the Foodpreneurs Formula™ information library and read posts inside The Foodpreneur Coach, Females in Food’s private Facebook group, to gain more insight.
The world is changing so fast and technology enables us to do so much more. We’re interested in which app you could not live without and why?
- Instagram to be inspired and be on my toes at all times with the movement in the food and beverage industry.
- Cozi for my daily schedules and my emails on my phone.
- Oddly enough I also can’t live without a surf report for my kids. If the surf is on at 5 AM I have to be available to take my kids for a surf before the day starts. If it’s not good surf, I can go into the warehouse or work on emails to start the day.
Why did you decide to become a member of the Foodpreneurs Formula®
I was wondering how I found this group the other day and I can’t remember how I found it. As I had no experience in the food industry this became the assistance needed and a wealth of information for me. There are so many interesting women with talents and insights that are invaluable.
We love to celebrate our successes. Can you give us an example of how joining the Foodpreneurs Formula™ has positively impacted your business?
The Specialist Tutorials are amazing.
I watched the tutorial with Najib Lawand about selling overseas. This was a pivotal moment for me.
I have since met Najib who I absolutely adore and he has taken my product to Singapore. We are in the very early stages of negotiation. Even if it falls through it doesn’t matter as long as I gave it a shot. I would not have considered this as an option unless I joined this group.
Thank you Sophie.
Want to read more about another successful member? Check out our ‘What’s Cooking’ interview with the local wine bar owner, Tanya Hanouch, owner Wolfe & Molone.