As the leading supplier of commercial baking equipment to the industry in Australia and New Zealand, here at Vanrooy we are very lucky to work with a large range of customers who produce exciting, creative and delicious products. One customer in particular who wraps all of the former up in a large bow is Butterbing Cookies.
In this blog, we chat with founder Simone Clark about the history of Butterbing and how our equipment has helped make life easier for her business that now supplies to 400 cafes throughout Australia.
Tell us about how and when your business came about
Butterbing is the result of my passion for food, my intrinsic entrepreneurial spirit and a life catalyst that gave me the courage to take the leap into business ownership. Butterbing was founded in my home kitchen in 2014 and has grown into a fine-tuned operation that supplies over 400 cafes throughout Australia. It’s been an exciting and challenging journey.
What is most surprising for me, is that I never dreamt of opening a bakery. I’m an ex-graphic designer from rural Australia, who at 25, noped out of the 9-to-5 and went backpacking to seek something more out of life. By the time I returned to Australia, the thought of moving to Melbourne and opening a food business consumed my mind.
I wanted to open a beautiful Ottolenghi-inspired grab & go venue in the city, and I needed a commercial kitchen to get started. However, the budget dictated that I had to use my home kitchen, and the council ruling meant that I was limited to only baked goods. So I opened a ‘temporary’ wholesale bakery to get my foot in the door.
In short, the concept of Butterbing is a kind of happy accident, but the growth has been due to strategic decisions and an immense amount of teamwork.
Where did the name Butterbing come from?
Subconsciously, I think it came from the strip club called ‘Bada Bing’ from the TV series ‘The Sopranos’. I’m not a huge Soprano’s fan so I’m not quite sure how I landed here! I spent two days scribbling name ideas over my fridge and just thought the name was fun. I wanted a name that people would remember and that hadn’t been used before.
What do you believe makes Butterbing cookies stand out in comparison to others?
We recently asked some of our cafe stockists this question, and they all unanimously agreed it was our product consistency. We’re highly committed to producing a product that does not vary in size, appearance, taste or colour. The consistency of our cookies is affected by humidity, the seasonal changes that affect butter, room temperature, how many seconds the batter is mixed for and how quickly we portion the batter. It’s a deceptively simple product to produce.
What is your best-selling cookie?
Salted Caramel has always been our best-seller, and I suspect it will be for a long time.
What has been your most rewarding experience being in this industry?
Being part of the manufacturing and hospitality industry as a female business leader has very clear pros and cons. The pros being I’ve received very specific support and encouragement from people who go out of their way to advocate for female-led businesses. As a result, we have a really amazing network of suppliers, trades-people and customers who are an absolute joy to do business with.
The cons being the frequent interactions with suppliers and peers who by default underestimate the skills, talent and success the team and I have demonstrated throughout the years. I’m not a fan of having to prove myself to a supplier when they’re literally standing inside the business I built from scratch. It gets fairly tiring.
Succeeding with one’s personal ambitions is truly rewarding but sailing past the low expectations others place on you is just plain fun.
Do you have any crazy stories from your business or career in the industry?
The early days of Butterbing were hard work. There were several months where I was supplying about 40-50 venues but operating entirely out of my home. I’d bake till about 2 am, sleep until about 6:30 am, get up and deliver via bicycle, come home and start baking again. I can’t quite remember how many months this went on, honestly, it’s all a bit of a blur!
How important is your Vanrooy equipment to the operation of your business?
Without our equipment, we would not be able to scale to the size we are today. Machinery that reduces the need for our team to partake in repetitive tasks, such as portioning or lifting, generally makes everyone enjoy their jobs more and keeps us safe.
What piece of Vanrooy equipment could you not live without?
We’ve purchased three significant pieces of equipment from Vanrooy over the years. A depositor, a large planetary mixer and a bowl lift. The depositor is our most crucial piece of equipment. It took such a large amount of time to find the right machine, and without it, we would be back to hand-scooping each cookie with a lever ice cream scoop.
If you could do anything differently, would you?
No, I don’t think so. I’m thankful that when I started Butterbing I was naive, had no baking experience and had only a small amount of money to work with. These kinds of boundaries promote creativity and problem-solving. If I knew how much work it was going to be or the personal challenges it would bring me, I would have been too scared to start.
Where do you see Butterbing in ten years / what’s planned for the future?
I envision that in 10 years we’ll be 5x the size we are today, in a purpose-built factory, and a common household name to the Australian public. We’ll do this by continuing to nurture our hospitality relationships, opening an online store, becoming corporate gifting experts and creating innovative new bakery lines. There are just a few thousand micro-steps we have to take between now and then!
If you would like to make an inquiry on any of the equipment mentioned in this blog, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!