Customer stories

From home kitchen to household name: The rise of Molly Woppy

The first products made by artisan baking company Molly Woppy were baked in an oven in the dining room of a hard-working Kiwi couple. Thirteen years later, the founders reflect on what they’ve learnt as they’ve grown from a start-up.

Reading time: 4 minutes

A recipe for success

Wherever you are in New Zealand, there’s a good chance your local café sells packages of gingerbread men, biscotti, and other baked treats made by Molly Woppy. The brainchild of self-confessed ‘cookie lovers’ Alistair Parker and Hayley Molloy, the artisan bakery has grown from a two-person operation to a Kiwi institution. 

Like many Kiwi businesses, Molly Woppy comes from humble beginnings. The business began when Alistair Parker, a chef and keen observer of food trends, started baking at home, on top of his full-time job.

Seeing a gap in the market for good quality biscotti, he went for it. After only six months, demand was so high that with his partner Hayley Molloy, he decided to install a commercial oven in their dining room.

When the business expanded further, the couple renovated their garden studio into a commercial kitchen.

We always think about the person who is receiving our product and what they’ve come to expect out of our baking – Alistair Parker

Sure to rise

Fast-forward to today, and the business employs 22 people and operates from a small factory and warehouse in the Auckland suburb of Avondale. Hayley, a former restaurant manager, looks after administration, marketing, and design, while Alistair oversees the kitchen and supplier relationships.

Impressive growth for what started as a  small start-up. “We’re at a really exciting point where we’re not a start-up anymore, we have some great supplier relationships, and a committed team of people. We’re now shifting gears to take things up a notch,” says Hayley.

 ANZ, has been an invaluable part of their journey from birth to expansion, Alistair says.

“Our ANZ Business Banker, Patrick, understands who we are and what we’re trying to achieve with the business. That isn’t common.” 

Mastering the business of baking

Patrick catches up with the couple regularly at their factory, in the branch, or over the phone. Topics range from getting a loan funding more growth, to increasing their working capital, to pointing them in the direction of ANZ’s free workshops for businesses .

“We went to a session at ANZ about governance for small businesses and this allowed us to think about what we need to do.” 

The challenges now are different to the early years of Molly Woppy. “Our two boys were young back then, and juggling family life and the business was hard.

“On top of that, we also worried a lot about cash flow, meeting the requirements of jobs to make ends meet, and deciding where best to invest time and money. We worried about being able to afford the right people and assets. And if that wasn’t bad enough, we didn’t have solid capital behind us. Luckily, if we didn’t know something, we weren’t afraid to ask for advice from Patrick, as well as our accountant and others, so that we could fill in our knowledge gaps.”

As the business grows, Hayley and Alistair are clear that they don’t want to dilute the quality of their product. From the beginning, they’ve never changed their recipes.

“We always think about the person who is receiving our product and what they’ve come to expect out of our baking,” Alistair says.

Proof is in the pudding

Molly Woppy is a business with people at its heart. A committed workforce is crucial, because Molly Woppy products are artisan and niche, so quality needs to be high. “We’re really pleased that some of our staff have been with us for 10 years, and many have been with us more than six,” Hayley says.

The couple says they enjoy working together and that’s part of the business’s success.

“We’re great friends. We make sure that we take regular time away from the business, and enjoy our joint hobbies of paddle boarding and surfing,” says Hayley. “We make the most of the time we have out of work and the time we spend with our boys, who are now 15 and 17 years old.”

What about the name Molly Woppy? “We often get asked about that,” Alistair laughs. “Molly Woppy is a nickname that Hayley had growing up, from her surname – Molloy. We think it captures the essence of who we are as a business – playful and innovative.” 

But it’s serious play, too. As demonstrated by their growth, this is a business that has its sights set on serious success.

Our ANZ Business Banker, Patrick, understands who we are and what we’re trying to achieve with the business. That isn’t common – Alistair Parker

Haley and Alistair's tips for start-ups

  • A good business specialist and accountant are invaluable.
  • Maintain consistent quality in all aspects of your business, from your products to your staff – your customers will respect you for it.
  • Make an effort to have a good work-life balance and spend time with the family. It can help to keep you sane.

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