Meeting other business owners has become a bit of a drug to me. Their drive is so contagious, I'm usually left buzzing with new ideas and goals. It is the feeling of invigoration and inspiration that I'm addicted to. I love a good start-up story, especially if they're based in Sydney and are in the food industry. So I'm sharing this one with you.
Meet brothers Ibrahim and Michael Khatib of Looma's.
Ibrahim is a qualified chef turned pastry chef, with around 10 years experience. He spent 5 years at Altitude Shangri-la where he did fine dining, then worked at Croquembouche Patisserie in Botany for 5 years, where he focused on pastry and mastered the art of baking exquisite pies, croquembouches, macarons, quiches, cakes, and tarts.
Looma may sound like a quirky made-up word but I'm told, it is a Lebanese thing and was Ibrahim's nickname as a kid. So they named the business, Looma's!
Michael, on the other hand, has a Software Engineering major from UTS. His professional career spans from being a computer programmer to a business analyst and has worked for firms including Tabcorp, Commbank and Terra Firma Consulting.
Michael says that he's always known that he had an entrepreneurial spirit but it wasn't until a few years ago that he had enough of the corporate BS and decided to leave.
In June 2011 while still working full time, an empty factory in Bankstown was purchased as Looma's headquarters. After six months of careful planning and building their commercial kitchen and office from scratch, they launched their online store and business operations in January 2012.
How are they doing one year later?
At the moment 60% of their revenue is wholesale - they sell macarons, pastries, tarts, sandwiches, pies and quiches to numerous hotels, caterers, food distributors and cafes around Sydney as well as interstate. The other 40% retail business is done mainly over the internet where customers can purchase online and have products delivered or they can pick up from their factory in Bankstown.
You may have also seen them at the Gladesville Organic food market on Saturdays and various other festivals including the Sydney Royal Easter Show, The Rocks Aroma Festival, Norton Street Italian Festa, and Bankstown Bites.
Where to next? Michael says he wishes to "open store fronts over the next few years as well as focus on our delivery service. Store fronts will supplement our current online sales, and we think 7-day delivery all over Sydney is very convenient for customers and great for our business as it opens up our target market to be Sydney-wide as opposed to a local area."
He continues to explain, "Customers are very surprised when they ask 'Do you deliver to Manly? I need it this Sunday at 12pm' and we say 'Yes'."
The guys at Looma's were kind enough to send over a croquembouche and some macarons for me to taste! This was well timed with my recent office move and boy did the croquembouche have a wow factor at my mini-office-warming! Imagine having one of these on the table at your next dinner party. "Oh, I just casually whipped this up in my spare time".
Looma's standard croquembouche (medium, 60 profiteroles) is $150 and includes free next day delivery to Sydney metro areas. Considering a 75 profiterole tower from Adriano Zumbo costs $225, and you have to pick it up from the store, Looma's offer is pretty enticing!
Taste-wise, the freshness of this croquembouche was key. The toffee just clung onto the profiterole, coating the choux pastry with a delicate layer of crunch. Overnight, it becomes slightly soggy, but freshly made croquembouches are magical. The creamy vanilla custard is worth a mention too, it's so fragrant and the texture is lusciously perfect.
The box of macarons on the other hand is like a rainbow parade. The flavour combinations aren't as exuberant as other patisseries around Sydney but one can never look past some perfect classics.
These are $2.50 each or $30 for a dozen. They've been flawlessly assembled; crisp meringue shell, chewy nutty interior, the filling, silky and not overly sweet. There's lemon, hazelnut, chocolate, coconut, orange & poppyseed, butterscotch, pistachios, passionfruit strawberry, vanilla macadamia and salted caramel.
How exciting is it that Ibrahim and Michael spotted an opportunity for croquembouche and macarons deliveries?
You never know when you'll need an emergency dose of sophistication!
View Looma's complete range and order online at: loomas.com.au
Unit 13, 25 Hoskins Ave, Bankstown, NSW
Phone: 1300 LOOMAS (1300 566 627)
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Jenius sampled the croquembouche and macarons with thanks to Looma's