It’s a delicious irony that a woman so passionate about healthy eating and living got her career start under the Golden Arches. Still, for Sydney-based Anna Hopkins it was all part of a dream set in motion when she was just eight years old, by announcing to her parents that she would one day produce fast-food as popular as the famous burger chain – only healthier.
“I learned so much working in operations at McDonald’s for 10 years,” explains the mother of one. “It really gave me the confidence, from a business perspective, to go out on my own and open my own café.”
On top of selling healthy take-out options to the lunch crowd in inner Sydney, Anna was also side-gigging as a personal trainer. It was here that she came across multiple clients who wanted to go low-carb but found it near impossible to cut out bread from their diets. So Anna got to work creating her very own bread, low in carbohydrates, named Protein Bread.
“For a number of years, I would open in the early hours and start baking bread to sell that day,” explains Anna. “It was only when my café customers asked if they could buy a loaf to take home that I realised I had the recipe for a real business.”
In 2012, Anna officially launched PBCo. Low Carb Foods with a simple vision: to transform baked treats into stamina enhancing health foods. Since then, the products may have evolved, but Anna’s mission to provide healthier options to her customers, allowing them to make the best choices for their physical wellbeing, remains the same and business is booming.
“If anything, as a woman in business, the biggest obstacle I have faced has been myself. Self-doubt and worry can creep in and overtake our minds, so staying on top of our mental health and confidence is super important,” explains Anna. “Women naturally have a good gut instinct and where I have fallen down in the past is when I’ve not listened to my own gut.’
Listening to her intuition has paid off. Despite her food being the antithesis to chicken nuggets, from day one Anna has applied what she learned in business and operations at McDonald’s to her own small business, and growth has followed. So much so that, two years ago, Amazon Australia invited her to join its Pilot Program for food businesses in Australia.
“As an online business, joining Amazon Australia was an obvious step for us at PBCo,” says Anna. “While we take advantage of Fulfillment by Amazon - ensuring all orders are shipped and arrive immediately - for us, it was really about expanding our reach.”
While marketing and selling to Australians is a priority, international expansion is on the radar - Anna isn’t one to dream small.
“I’m really proud to be a leading brand in our category of Healthy Baking Mixes, and Low Carb Bread.” recounts Anna. “I’m excited for what’s to come. More and more people are becoming mindful of their food choices, and with our philosophy of “Swap don’t Stop” our goal is to make these healthier choices more accessible and enjoyable!”
On International Woman’s Day, it’s only fitting to take heed of Anna’s direct advice to any woman out there hoping to launch their own business.
“Get crystal clear on why you are pursuing this path,” she says.
“Ask yourself: Is this to follow my passion regarding a particular product or service? Is it to set myself up for a certain lifestyle? Am I seeking to solve a specific problem for a large enough marketplace?”
“The reasons you go into business, are a key factor in the ongoing decisions around your business, and are imperative to you feeling a sense of fulfillment and success.””
Not losing sight of the reasons you put yourself on the line is vital and a key factor, according to Anna, behind why her small business has been as successful as it has been thus far.
“Just trust yourself and just get on with it.”
To shop from women-led small businesses, head to www.amazon.com.au/internationalwomensday