Brittany Garbutt is the founder of Pretzel Australia. Pretzel has 11 stores across Australia, a business turnover of more than $5 million a year and over 300 staff.
In addition to Pretzel, she’s also the founder of Voodoo Cafe, Voodoo Priestess, and Chubby Boy Breakfast and Bar. But I’m (k)not joking, the pretzels are beyond amazing. So pretty stoked I got to interview Brittany!
In this interview, we cover the story of starting up with her life savings invested in a pink shipping container selling pretzels, managing store expansion right as the pandemic started, and lessons learned along the way.
Incredibly fun conversation this one, Britt’s energy is infectious, but fair warning, a few F-bombs will be dropped so don’t say I didn’t warn ya!
But please enjoy my conversation with Brittany Garbutt.
[00:00:31] – [First question] – How Britt started Pretzel
[00:05:38] – When did she feel she was onto something?
[00:09:28] – Interesting notes about store layout
[00:11:27] – The challenges of driving demand through Instagram
[00:17:26] – Advertising off from Social Media
[00:20:16] – Talking about the expansion from Perth to Melbourne
[00:29:48] – The hospitality industry culture of having a crack
[00:34:27] – How to juggle multiple brands and stores
[00:38:14] – Being honest about her work
[00:44:04] – The challenges of asking for money
[00:47:06] – About Mentors
[00:51:10] – Perth, blessing or a curse?
Connect with Brittany:
Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favourite podcast platform.
[00:00:31] Kalani Scarrott: My guest today is Britney Garbutt. She is the founder of Pretzel Australia, which has stores across Perth and Melbourne in Australia, and a turnover of more than $5 million and over 300 staff. But in addition to Pretzel, she’s also the founder of Voodoo Café, Voodoo Priestess and Chubby Boy Breakfast and bar. And I’m not joking, but the Pretzels are beyond amazing. So I’m pretty bloody stoked today to interview Britt. In this interview, we cover her story of starting up with her life savings invested in a pink shipping container selling Pretzels in Northbridge, the trials and tribulations of managing store expansion right as the pandemic started and her lessons learned along the way. So, this was an incredibly fun conversation. Britt’s energy is infectious and a fair warning just in case, a few ‘F’ bombs will be dropped, so don’t say I didn’t warn you, but please enjoy my conversation with Brittany Garbutt.
Brittany, thank you so much for coming on. Welcome. I love to start with your beginning because it’s so cool, talk me through it. At the time you’re twenty-three, you’ve got your life savings invested and then a pink shipping container in Northbridge.
[00:01:39] Brittany Garbutt: Basically, very long story short, I had a poodle called Pebbles and she is the love of my life and we’ve been together since she was seven. She passed away in 2020. Good innings. She was 20 years old, though she’s not very mobile. She wasn’t going to move with me to Melbourne, Sydney, or America or wherever it is that I needed to go for work. So, I was like, ‘I’m going to start my own company.’ So, background. I work in branding, I studied graphic design, photography, I did commercial photography for ages, brand designing and all those kinds of things and then it got to the point where it was like, I can’t continue to do what everyone else wants me to do. Generally speaking, when you’re my age or the age I was, your clients give you something and then they’re like, hey, can you copy? This is essentially what they’re asking you to do and it becomes very tedious and boring. Then you give them these bowler ideas and they’re like, oh, that’s so great. Couldn’t you have trusted me in the first place? I was bored of that rhetoric. I live in Perth, born in South Africa, but raised here and then it was like, hey, best opportunities are in Melbourne, Sydney or the States if you want to work on the work you want to work on. I love startups. That was particularly interesting to me, like youth, fashion, lifestyle, that kind of area. Then again, the dog, she’s not moving, so it was like, fine, we will go ahead and make our own business. Why the fuck not? It was such a fun exercise in doing whatever it is that I wanted to do. So often people ask, Why all the pink? That’s why because why the fuck not, Jack? I just want to do what I want to do. I also had a friend called Mallory and we used to work together at a pretzel place when we were kids. So, she loves pretzels. She was obsessed with them, and she always wanted to own one, but the one that we worked at, run by the most lovely people, but they were getting older, didn’t want to renew the lease, shut it down, essentially. So there was no pretzel place for Mallory and she was my target. I was like, hey, I will design this thing, I will brand it, I will make it and I’ll sell it to her and her dad, who was actually looking at the time. But then she fell in love with a boy from Canada or a Perth boy who is in Canada. So that didn’t go so well. By that stage I had pretzels, it was the worst six months of my existence, but the best thing I’ve ever done. I could not do the thing I’m most proud of. It sounds very strange to be like I had the best time, having the worst time, but we just got so popular so quickly and I was the only person who knew how to do it. So, I was there 19 hours a day, Roland Pretzels for a whole year. It was insane but that’s how it all got started. Very generic and genuine. One thing led to another thing that led to another thing and it wasn’t a big master minded plan. It was what it was.
[00:04:49] Kalani Scarrott: When did you quit your brand job or the full time or did you go headfirst into the water?
[00:04:55] Brittany Garbutt: I was freelancing and I had some clients that I work with regularly, but realistically speaking, I pretty much cut ties with them. In 2017, In the middle of the year, I went to America for a bit for holidays. Did some work, then finished up the year and started working on pretzel and committed full time to doing that. I Was working in a hospital in the meantime, working as a waitress. I used to have thousands of jobs. I like to work, and I like to be busy. So I was doing a crap ton of things which all provided that hundred thousand dollars income that I could then squish into pretzel.
[00:05:38] Kalani Scarrott: Was there ever a moment in time where you thought, I’m really onto something here? When did you or have you reached that point still?
[00:05:46] Brittany Garbutt: It’s so funny because others’ perception of me is very different to my perception of me, like I’m just an idiot rolling around doing what she wants to do. But there is a thought that they’re like, oh, she’s the big CEO of this multimillion dollar company and I’m like, yeah, not really. So I suppose those moments don’t happen to me often. I’m not like, fuck, well, look at that a thing but every now and again I’ll be like, hey, that’s pretty cool, you did a thing. It was pretty obvious and pretty quickly that we were going to be super popular and that was an issue and a blessing but also we were never designed to be so busy. The biggest issue in our company, which we have almost resolved, is the wait time. So we have this tiny weeny little 16 foot shipping container. How am I supposed to produce? We had lines coming out freaking all the way past James Street de sac. It was crazy and the expectation that we functioned like McDonald’s was high. I’m like, hey, just me making the dough, rolling them out, cooking them and It is bread. When we try to fix that problem, there are hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of investment put into equipment for pizza and burgers but the only person who does pretzels to my level is me. So you need to feel capital to be able to start investing in creating custom machines which we now have, so that we can speed up the process. So, it’s like at that point when I was like, fuck, we’re onto something but also, fuck, this is going to be a little bit of work. It’s fuck tons of work and still is.
[00:07:40] Kalani Scarrott: You guys are often doing a small space like even the main manager forum I’ve been to and the same thing. You guys are getting it done as a small space made to order is unreal.
[00:07:49] Brittany Garbutt: It’s part of the business, sort of genius, which I do if I do things but even like Northbridge, when we moved in there, there were so many people coming up to me when I was working there that whole year and they’re like, how did you go like this? I’m just irritated and I would call the council. I’m like hey, Hi, who can I speak to? And they just kept presenting to me. We’re like, oh, there’s no water connection. So, I fixed that problem. I was like, we can do an IBC tank pump out. They’re like, fuck, She’s got a point. Then they’re like, what about the power? I’m like, the Fringe Festival is in there. I know you’ve got power. They’re like, oh, fuck. Then they were like, how though? You can’t just put four walls and a concrete slab down. I was like, no, I can ship a container. It’s always worked out of this very problem, Solvy, lack of manners, I suppose you could call it. So small spaces were low money if you’re trying to rent out from a center group or something, which they own. Westfield is a huge space with all seating space. That’s awesome, but it costs money. Whereas 16th square, with a little shipping container in a pokey little spot that no one wasn’t making the city council any rent but I could say, hey, you make $0 on those 20 tiles. How about I give you some cash? That’s better than nothing and then they were like, sure. So you can get a good deal that way and make it viable to run a business and start it with just 100,000$.
[00:09:28] Kalani Scarrott: I’m curious about your opinion on this because obviously you’re in the business, you know it but same thing with small spaces, especially for food and beverage. As a consumer, I like the small spaces because it always seems a bit more cozy. But obviously, in terms of business too, as well. If you have a big space and it’s pretty empty, that looks bad. Whereas if you guys want more space, is that something you notice or play towards?
[00:09:47] Brittany Garbutt: Yeah, for sure but then also on the flip side, it can be really a turn off. You’re like, Fuck, I’m never going to be able to sit down. I’m not going to be able to find anywhere to be. It depends if you’re destinational or take away. So if you’re aiming for that takeaway market Holbein, pick it up, go see it later, Ideal. But if you do want people to be able to meet there or you need some space and to be competitive. So, we’re quite competitive, Santuros. So if you look over at Pretzel, all the tables are full. They’ll hop on over to Santuros because they’re like, fuck it, I want to sit. I came here to hang out with my friends. So it’s considering your consumer and like Northbridge works really well for us because there’s so much space around, benches we’ve got out there. We have umbrellas and that’s all cool, but our production space is small and that’s what we pay for. So it depends but I do like the little vibes. The vibes are cool. I enjoy them and I also think you can do more, from a monetary perspective. I am fucking love high ceilings. Finance guys hate high ceilings. If you are paying like, $600 square meter, you just added a whole bunch of square meters. When you can grow in a ceiling, such a big misconception is that it’s cheaper to have an exposed ceiling. No fucking way is that cheaper. Absolutely never is. If you see an exposed ceiling out there, you appreciate it. Because if you throw a ceiling in, see you later. Everything up there can be ugly. Whereas if you want to make it sprayed out and pretty, that costs dollars. You and I will be tangenting a lot. That’s fine.
[00:11:47] Kalani Scarrott: That’s the beauty of it. I love it. With the business, especially early on, like you said, you were a bit surprised, demand driven. Was that through social media, Instagram or any other platform? Do you want to talk about that?
[00:11:55] Brittany Garbutt: We recently had our Instagram stolen. So it was like a contract killing is what they call it, which basically means that someone out there didn’t want us to have that. So when we got hacked, we ended up getting our hackers in. That doesn’t mean I have hackers on standby, but for these kinds of purposes. I was like, who’s in there? How do we get it back? They contacted them and then they were like, how much? What do you want? That’s usually what you expect that exchange to be, and they were like nothing. We’ve already been paid. So, I was like, what do you mean? Who paid you? They’re like, well, we’re not going to tell you who paid you. Moral of the story is that it was our job. We were there to get rid of it. In that day and age, Instagram was a quick tangent. There’s a thing called the Millennial tax. So, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Uber used to be super affordable, and now it is the same price as taxis. Airbnb used to be super affordable, and now it is as expensive, if not more expensive than a hotel. So those companies, as far as my understanding goes, had to report a growth model for the first ten years of their businesses life. So to their shareholders, they were saying, we are growing but making money was not necessarily the objective there because they had a growth strategy. All those $15 off your Uber eats, they could demonstrate that they were growing this community of users, at ten years or whatever. The assumption here is that then they switch to a profit model. So, now our shareholders want to see some returns. We want money, but they fucking got us. They got us all. How do we live without any of those services? We do not. So, this is perfect for them, but my assumption is that Instagram had a similar model and for a very long time they made it good for businesses to be on Instagram and easy for them to appear on Instagram and the only objective was to have really high quality good content. Reason being that we all then contributed to the value of Instagram’s app. We, businesses, and influencers added value. So it’s a genius business model from their end but then same thing. They wanted to switch from having a growth model and saying hey, we’ve got this many users on the platform to hey, we have this many businesses that are paying for views. So you could probably hear it every now and again. Everyone’s like oh, I’ve got 60,000 followers but only two people comment because Instagram is limiting. Yes, Instagram is limiting. How many people are going to see your content based on how much money you’ve given them? If you are not giving them money, you are not getting anything unless you’re an influencer. In which case their algorithm pulls for and the influencer is the ‘bread and butter’ of their industry. So, they promote the influencers in order to keep that business model viable and then they continue to charge businesses for views. However, as a business person in 2023, that’s a gamble and most business people do not like to gamble. We like short things or as close to a sure thing as you can get. So, we started off with Instagram and that’s how we took off and we were really ‘big’ from that perspective on Instagram. We weren’t but we did very well. We had a really high engagement rate, and they were all really genuine local customers to now having absolutely no Instagram whatsoever that reaches minimal to no people. So it’s what launched us but in the whole process of losing that Instagram, which is why I’m telling you is that we learnt that our In-store experience and it being shared on other people’s social media is more important than us having our own social media that gets referred to. It was a big contributor to launching our business. But we also have loads of interest from popular publications like Perth Now and magazines. It’s a cool thing. It’s a random, fat, big, pink shipping container in the middle of the city. It’s noteworthy. But going forward, we’re restrategizing how we approach all of that. We have a cool campaign coming up called ‘See You in the Real World.’ We’re moving all of our budget from online to real world experiences. We’d rather engage with our customer in the actual world and then have them posted up on their social media, do whatever the fuck they want with it, then spend so much time, money, effort and stress creating an Instagram that will only ever gain three and a half followers a minute.
[00:16:54] Kalani Scarrott: That’s the thing. It’s for no good reason. They’ve liked your page and they want to see.
[00:17:00] Brittany Garbutt: If there was some guarantee behind the spend, that would be worth it, but then would that be Instagram? No, because then the biggest player wins and that’s not fair, and that’s not organic and that’s not how that should work. So, it sucks. If you’re an individual, Instagram is impressive, but if you’re a business, it’s not the same as it was five years ago.
[00:17:26] Kalani Scarrott: Can you talk about the upcoming ‘See You in the Real World?’
[00:17:31] Brittany Garbutt: I can tell you some bits of info. We’ve put together a website and it says seeyouintherealworld.com.au and it’s in beta phase at the moment. So we have a team of people in Melbourne and in WA who are going around and doing all crazy things. So, we’ve got a bunch of ducks. I think it’s like 2000 pink ducks and they have little QR code on them and we are going to release them to the public. So I think there’s a tram, a Melbourne tram that’s going to get filled with them. A bunch of places in Perth have jumped on board and they all have our little duckies. The idea is that you get the duck, you bring the duck in, you get a free pretzel, but you bring the duck back in so that we can recycle the duck, so that we can take the duck back out again, so we can go and see new people. The whole idea is just like that’s what pretzel is about. It’s fun. It’s supposed to be an interruption of fun. So often people are like, what problem does it solve? I’m like, none of them. Absolutely not. No, it’s not for that. It’s carbs and sugar and a good time. That’s it. That’s what we’re trying to do. So when we started Instagram, we got to have more of that fun and we got to speak to our customers more often and engage and be funny. When COVID hit the toilet paper thing, we were like, oh, every pretzel comes with a napkin. We got to do fun stuff like that and really get engagement, which is the fun part. Now that’s not possible. We’re running around the city and randomly getting on your morning tram and there’s 2000 ducks in there. That’s so fun. We want to communicate how we are as a bunch of people. We do this for shits and giggles. We genuinely do and we just want to have a good time. We want our customers to have a good time. We want to make everything pink and do some things like that. So we also have a big billboard going up. That’s funny but I can’t tell you more about that one. We’ve got a whole bunch of very random but very cool things. We’re doing an Unhappy Meal as well which is like a four pretzel set in, a pink Unhappy Meal looking thing. Please don’t sue me McDonald’s.
[00:19:59] Kalani Scarrott: I was going to ask about the litigation side of it, but I don’t want to bring it up.
[00:20:00] Brittany Garbutt: I don’t know how that would go down but I’m willing to find out. Honestly, if someone from McDonald’s calls me, I’d be honored.
[00:20:15] Kalani Scarrott: How do you find Juggling in Melbourne and Perth and then why make the expansion from Perth to Melbourne?
[00:20:24] Brittany Garbutt: Juggling was super difficult over COVID, that was hard and it was tough. To be honest, our Victorian stores were a pile of shit. It did not work well. It was not going well because there’s such a high level of training involved at pretzel. We opened two weeks before COVID started. Just two weeks and we had five stores signed on. So five stores opened over two years into the world’s worst pandemic ever. When you’re dealing with that kind of stuff, like, I didn’t want to shut my stores for a singular day because I have responsibilities. My kids are my staff, by the way. They come to work every single day and that’s their job. My job is to provide them a place to go to work. So we copped a fuck a lot of monetary losses and took some real hard hits to make sure that everyone could continue to pay their bills. But the climate at the time wasn’t so communally favorable. I think everyone was freaking out about their own situation. Hiring became difficult. Staff started wondering where they could get the next Job Keeper. It was a floundering time for everyone where a few murals were thrown out the window and we physically couldn’t get over. I physically could not leave. So, you know how much, zoom training is really not how it is. My stuff was put in an awkward position and we had some terrible management steps in who was loki frauding us. But these old things happen when you can’t get to the freaking place that your stores are. Buildings became difficult. A build that would take four weeks has taken six months because of material issues. Shit show but it is what it is. You have to roll from there. We suffered some serious reputational damage. People come in and be like, that took 40 minutes and it was the world’s worst pretzel and that is a hot spot. It is business, you don’t always get it right. That was a very untraveled path. We didn’t know how to handle it and I had my time over; I would put myself in Victoria and we stayed. There wouldn’t have been but the headspace at that time was, if we’re going to have to keep all these kids employed casually, I’m going to have to do a lot of the work. So, instead of hiring on new things, I was copying those jobs, so I was working around the clock 24 hours a day, just about trying to pick up the slack. It’s not possible to do that away from the headquarters but it’s all within your hindsight. When the board was opened, we sent seven, eight or nine pretzel kids from WA over to Victoria. We put them up there in accommodation and they have the time of their lives doing pretzel things and exploring Melbourne. You get the best people in Melbourne and then we managed to, from there, start them all up again properly. That was five stores all at once, from not functioning to doing a really good job. So, we’re getting there. We chose Melbourne because that’s the most fun. I felt like they were like my people from a fun perspective. They really appreciate weird stuff, new stuff, interesting things and it’s a bigger market space for sure. From a business perspective, we can have more stores. Perth, you do cap out at a certain there’s only so many of us. We are looking to expand to Brisbane soon. So, I have my eyes on Adelaide as well. Singapore is very much in the works, especially being in the same time zone as pretzel. They are a little further behind in their covert recovery than us, so still waiting for the right moment to do that one. Canberra is in the works. Sydney, I have no interest in, I’ll be honest with you. They’re not a grateful audience. They have too much, and I think that sometimes you’ve got too much, and you have too much choice makes you a little entitled. I think it’s not sensible for me to open something up that they will love for a year. One day, Sydney, we’ll see.
[00:25:20] Kalani Scarrott: All your stores are owned and operated by you, there’s no franchise model, is there either?
[00:25:28] Brittany Garbutt: Yeah, so they’re all mine. Hence, the COVID stress but I’ve had to sit myself down because being your own boss, occasionally you have to have weird conversations with yourself. I sit on this side of the chair, and then I move together, and I don’t physically, but you know what I mean? I was like, this is not possible anymore. You’re being silly now. It’s not possible to continuously manage and run. I have three hundred staff. I have three other cafes. We’re getting stupid. So when moving to a type of franchise model I wouldn’t call it that, but apparently the Franchise Council of Australia would, so I have to but we want to supersede staff from the company into owning them. So it provides a little pathway for them and also some legitimacy to it, very often. I’m sure other hospitality people would agree with me, this in the meantime and that’s totally fine. That is 99.9% of our hiring base but I have a few gripes with the upcoming generation, and I think that if anyone’s paying you for something, you’ve got to do your best for you. Do you know what I mean? Have some loyalty, have some sense of pride. I think a lot of the time they complain. We’re in the same generation. We complain about all the bad things going on, but do not spend any time contributing to the good. I fucking bust my ass every day because I want to see good things and that’s what I want for my staff to be like, hey, fuck, I’m coming here and I’m paid to do this job, no one else has the unique opportunity to make so many people happy. When you’re in customer service, you just throw someone, hey, I like your glasses. They’re so much happier. They have the time of their life and they’re like, what a unique opportunity. But all of these kids are waiting for the next nine to five because that’s a ‘real job.’ That doesn’t have to be that way and not to be funny, but make a fuck ton more money than a doctor. So realistically speaking, if money was the goal, then hospitality is viable. I have two kids who are my assistants, Max and Harry. They bust their asses and they’re really good. Harry is 19 and Max is 23, very young. They could potentially, by the time they’re 24 and 25 odds, own their own store. Two or three or four. And yes, they are pretzel workers. That is what they will tell people. Will they be more successful than a doctor? Yeah, but it’s like trying to educate my little babies on my kids being open to other opportunities and doing things a different way. Just because you don’t want to do it the same as everyone else doesn’t mean it’s any less valuable. Being able to show them as the owner that I will trust you. If you can get through working in the store, you’ve got a strict set of requirements. You have to work in a store for a minimum of a year, supervise the store for a minimum of a year, then you can own them. Then that’s like you’re at 23, it’s possible. It’s possible to do that. It’s possible to be very successful. It’s possible to make a lot of money in hospitality. It does deserve the care and love and attention that people give. They’re architect jobs or whatever, it might be like every job is an important one. That’s my feeling. So that’s how we want to move forward into a ‘franchise model.’ We’ve also got some cool systems and stuff in place where the actual corporate company will be out of venture capital for them because obviously twenty-three, you don’t really just have small arrangements so that way they can work towards paying it off, owning it. Then they can use the funds from that one to purchase a second pretzel or a third pretzel, so we can ensure the quality is much higher for our customers and it works well for everyone.
[00:29:47] Kalani Scarrott: Hospitality is not my area of domain but I always looking at it because you just go, fuck it, have a crack and you could get stuck in, especially younger people too and they try something new, there’s a lot of failures but it’s like you get some fucking out of the park home runs.
[00:30:02] Brittany Garbutt: Yeah, that’s such an interesting concept that resilience is very low in our group of, what do you call us? Like a generation and often people will take words with positive meanings and twist them in order to get themselves out of feeling a certain way. So resilience has often at the moment been used as almost a gas lighting term. So it’s like, oh, we need someone who’s resilient in a workplace and they’ll be like, oh, they just want us to work 24/7. You’re like, no, I just need you to bounce back quickly from failure. Just a dictionary definition. I don’t know if that is, but you know what I mean. I’m not trying to gaslight, I just mean you cannot do this job if you cannot say, hi, how are you? And have someone not say shit back to you. Do you know what I mean? You got to be resilient if that’s going to make you cry, just let me know if you need anything. We’re talking bare basics, like till girls, they need to be resilient and that need for those redefining stuff that makes us feel better about not being our best, I think like go out the window so that we can make some room to the sentiment is right, we want to have a better workplace, we want to have better working conditions and things but earn them also and have them be reasonable so people stop calling us the snowflake generation.
[00:31:43] Kalani Scarrott: It’s true, you can’t appreciate the sunshine without a little rain.
[00:31:46] Brittany Garbutt: Honest to God, like I said in the beginning, my favorite times in my life, I remember, one shift me and my friend Callum was there because he’s my friend and my boyfriend as well. I love Callum, Shout out to Callum. He’s making coffee. There’s a line down to the freaking tree. It’s like two in the morning on a Saturday. We’re at Northbridge, there’s two kids next to me, they’re pumping out pretzels. I’m the only bitch rolling things and I’m like, rolling and it’s sweaty, it’s hot, I’m about to cry but I like that. The song ‘All Time Low,’ I will not sing it for you. You would have heard it. It’s a radio song and it was playing and it’s such a catchy beat but it’s like an all-time blow and I remember looking out at everything and I was having a shit time. It was two in the morning, it was busy and I remember being like, Fuck, this is awful to Fuck, this is great, because this is so good. I’m so proud of myself. I’m here, I’m doing it, I’m 23, I didn’t fucking know what I was doing at all. I learned and I grafted and I worked and I’m still grafted and I’m still working. It’s still two in the morning but the pressure, instead of being crippling, was so I was so proud. Look at you being in this position where you could actually feel this much pressure.
[00:33:16] Kalani Scarrott: Pressure is a blessing because it means people will care about you and your work.
[00:33:20] Brittany Garbutt: If I had anxiety, I was like, no, just nervous. I am depressed, no, no, maybe a bit sad but then honestly, you don’t want to be, it’s bad of me to say those things and devalue the actual meaning of those terms and words. So it’s complicated and I can sit here in my little chair and make all of the third worldly assumptions that I want but I’ve never been so proud of or appreciated any period of my life more than that fucking difficult one where I was having anxiety through the roof 24/7, barely slept, barely ate and was working all the time. It was insane. I was crying more often than anything else but I’m so incredibly proud when I look back on it and it’s like, wow, which was fun. It was fun but I don’t know how to describe it. It was so good.
[00:34:21] Kalani Scarrott: Would you do it again? Maybe not, but you are glad that you’ve done it. You got Pretzel but then also Chubby Boy Breakfast Bar and Voodoo. How do you manage different brands as well?
[00:34:34] Brittany Garbutt: I have another one as well, so Voodoo has two. So it’s Voodoo Cafe in the city and then Voodoo Priestess, which is in Canada. I am not well managing all, to be honest. At the moment, re gutting some of my stores and starting them up again from scratch. The stores do well. They’re great brands. They’re super beautiful and they’re super fun but recently I’ve had to learn that I take on a lot of people that I want to help and I want to support. I love a great attitude and I want to stack up to all of the fucking shit. I talk about where people should be better. It did lead to me often relying on people who don’t have the experience, and I want to help them, but there are only so many hours of my day. Then I would reduce my ability to be helpful because I’m trying to do everyone else’s job and I’m trying to train them, but then also it stuck. It is difficult for them because they can’t get in contact with me because I’m contacting so many people. Then they feel silly because they feel like they can’t do their job, but they’re relying on me to train them and it goes around and in circles. So I’ve learnt now, we actually have to find the people who can support themselves and others and reduce that time spent so that I can work because I want to be, like, where my staff are and I don’t visit stores. I never visit the stores, ever. A funny thing with the staff in them. I visit them a lot, but at two in the morning, so don’t see me because I freak them out. Everyone starts doing weird stuff, they’re doing wrong and I’m like, guys just relax. So, managing all of that and trying to put it all together, there’s 15 stores and four brands. It’s a fuck ton of work and I am a micromanager of note. I’m like the shittiest boss. Sometimes, I will send someone on an errand and I’m like, you go here and then you go do this and park in this car park. It’s stupid but everyone forgets that we’re also on our own journeys, especially when you’re my age. I get congratulated so often for being so young. I’m like, God, but also a bit of an idiot. I’m not the oracle of all information and I’m learning too. Just because you’re in a CEO role or whatever the fuck, doesn’t mean you’ve got everything all together. Like, policemen don’t always make the right decisions. Doctors don’t always diagnose the right way. We’re also people. So it’s a learning journey for me too. I think I’m finally getting on top of it where these are logical decisions and we’re making good choices. I always say to my staff, my job is to do what is good for the gander. I make the best decision for the most good for the most people. Will that please everyone? Absolutely not. But I will always pick the option that will do the best for the most people. So that’s what I’m trying to do now. Instead of focusing on helping one person to progress, let’s think about everyone in general and maybe hire someone who’s more experienced but doesn’t get this wonderful opportunity. It’s better to give more opportunities to those below them.
[00:38:14] Kalani Scarrott: I appreciate your honesty there. That’s cool because it’s not something you say often as well.
[00:38:17] Brittany Garbutt: It’s funny that you call it honesty because I have a theory that people in my position, CEOs. I’m not a CEO because there’s no board, we’re not publicly listed, but you get the idea. We’re always a particular type of person and you have to have a particular set of skills or traits in order to want to do this. It’s a full-on job. You do not get spare time, thoughts, moments, none of that. You’re always working but a big fat part of that personality is this inability to purport ‘weakness.’ So often we are asked by our staff for this, so many CEOs will tell you the same thing. They just don’t understand. I’ve made a mistake, or I’ve done this or I’ve done that, and no one understands. But then they’ll go out in public and speak about how great it is to be a CEO. I make my own hours and I do what I want and it’s awesome but then you’re asking your staff to relate to you because you are just a person. Then we act like we’re not just people. We’re like the elite but we are not that elite at all. We’re workforces and we love what we do generally. You will not be in this position if you do not but we also hate what we do, and we’re keeping it together. Then we go on social media and flash a Lamborghini and make ourselves so unrelatable and then on the other hand, why is no one relating to me? I’m a person too, so I really promote in my own little brain, people who speak about how difficult the job is, not how superior you get to be, but how difficult it is and how emotionally draining it is and not to say that it’s not great, but a lot of them also will rampage online and speak about how awesome it is and how anyone can do it. It’s a lot of misinformation. I would rather be enlisted. I have spoken to actual military people and their lives in the SAS seem more relaxed than mine. It’s about creating that awareness around such an uptake at the moment of everyone wanting to be their own boss and everyone’s always like, oh, what advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business? And I’m like, great question. I would advise you to double fucking triple check that you want to do this. I always say if the first thing you envisioned was your office and what that would look like, try again. Sign up for something else. Not because you’re an awful person or anything like that, or not because you’re not capable, but because you want to be near business. You don’t want to own it. You don’t have to own the fucking business. You don’t have to own it to experience being a part of a business. And maybe you want to be a CMO or a CFO or whatever. There are so many ways to be close to business. Maybe you’re more interested in PR, marketing and social. Why is it that you want to own the business? Because the first ten things you consider are how hard it’s going to be and the sacrifices you’re going to need to make. Then you’re in the right place. That’s where you got to be because if you’re not in that head space where you’re like, I believe in this thing so much that I’m willing to unalive myself over it, not realistically, then you might be successful. Should I be happy? And then the minute you’re not happy doing it, business goes under cooked.
[00:42:24] Kalani Scarrott: It’s such a big thing. Same thing with the podcast. Podcasts are great. Everyone should have one but if you’re not willing to do the work of the editing and all the crap that goes on the other side of it, that’s not for you.
[00:42:34] Brittany Garbutt: No one’s like, hey, I’m a successful podcast owner and this is the seven and a half hours it takes me to edit. Look at this on social media. They’re like, I’m out here doing this, speaking of this person and we all do that. It’s social media. We all spend a lot of time curating the good, omitting the bad but we have shared collective knowledge and it’s like Sears only has fun and has Lamborghinis. Podcasts are only for meeting famous people and a fun job.
[00:43:05] Kalani Scarrott: It’s fucking annoying. I was like, no, I do everything because it was like, oh, can you send this off to your editor? I was like, no, it’s me. I do everything.
[00:43:14] Brittany Garbutt: Then people also like I don’t want to be a nine to five. I never want to be in a nine to five. Why would I want to be a nine to five? You’re like fuck me, though. How good would a nine to five be? You mean I rock up at nine, I have lunch and then I leave at five. I don’t take work home with me. Amazing. But it’s a mythical place, honestly. But there’s no one online who’s like, hello and welcome to my fabulous nine to five. I got a cute breakfast. I have a nice desk. It’s got my name on it. I’m living my best life on the weekends. I sleep in, I do whatever I want but it’s not good content. So, then our shared collective knowledge becomes a little silly and when our generation only learns from TikTok and Instagram, their experience of those things is warped.
[00:44:04] Kalani Scarrott: One strange thing, asking people for money is fucking hard too. I thought it’d be a bit easier now, asking for sponsorships but it’s not.
[00:44:13] Brittany Garbutt: Never gets easier, honestly. Never does. Even when you’re in my position. What happened to me, though, is like, I got into a position where people were clearly taking advantage because they knew that I was the pretzel brand. Like, oh, she’s got money. But I’m like, I’m still a businessperson. I will be the tightest asshole you’ve seen. That’s my job. That’s physically in my job description, tied up. Otherwise how do you get through? If I wasn’t such a tie back, we wouldn’t be here. I don’t drive a Lamborghini, I can tell you that one, but all my money goes back into more Pretzel. So, then they would be like, Send me the invoice or whatever and they’d be like, okay, this is a quote. This is how much it is and I would like to attach my ego to it. I’d be like, oh, no. So now if I’m like, realistically speaking, $4,000 for something that I know is $400 is a little crazy. I would say, sorry, we’ve gone with someone else and then I’d go and use my personal email to go and find someone else because I didn’t want to say back that’s crazy that, I don’t want people to think that we were cheap or say shit online that we don’t want to pay or she doesn’t value our job because she didn’t want to pay $4,000, something that should be $400 and in circles like that. So, the whole money thing never gets easier. It never does. Take one for email, though, because it’s definitely not as good of a go. It isn’t like you will convert more asking for sponsorship over a phone, for sure, but it does really help that little buffer where you’re like, I don’t know if I can necessarily be learning my whole and I’m not coming to a meeting naked.
[00:46:03] Kalani Scarrott: That’s especially when you are new to it, you don’t know how much things are meant to charge or cost. If someone wants to be $50, I probably would have taken it. It’s a funny one. You live on your own?
[00:46:19] Brittany Garbutt: It’s tough to know if that’s valuable or devaluing you but then also, should you just be getting your foot in the door? Should you just be like that because there’s a lot of people out there who have already made it in a particular industry. Photography, for example, you should be charging this amount of money per shoot. If you don’t, you’re devaluing the industry because obviously they’re pissed because they’re charging 1000 bucks, skating in there, taking the work for 500. But you’re also like, if we both charge $1,000, you’re going to get it and not me. So supply and demand but then you’re also like, fuck, I don’t want to be signing up for an industry where now I’m charging 500 and then little Sally Lucy comes and she’s charging 250 and I’m investing all of my time and efforts and life into a saturated, it gets very complicated.
[00:47:06] Kalani Scarrott: I’m lucky that I’ve got a few creative friends, so I can ask them to pick their brains, just even ballpark figures help because ballpark figures are wildly different. For you and your work, do you have any mentors or people you look towards or stories?
[00:47:20] Brittany Garbutt: I would love that but I do not know. I pretty much do everything on my own because I’m a little bit wired that way but I’m working on it. I would like this to be more of a collaborative experience, but I just haven’t found anyone who’s like my vibe. Most people, like my friends, go home and take a nap after they spend too much time with me. So, it’s intense. When you’re young, you have wonderful arrogance that it’s stupid, but also its survival. Fun fact, your brain is not fully formed until you are 25. So having that little brief period of time where I’m like, fuck it, I know everything. It happens when kids are nineteen. I’ll tell you this. It’s called the ‘Terrible 19’. I coined that. I want kids who are fucking angels. They’ll be so good. They’re so wonderful, so perfect till 18, love it and then turns 19 and fucking knows everything. There’s your job, knows the job of the guy next door, the prime minister. He’s an underwater welder now. He can do anything. It’s just the worst but also, it’s such a valuable space of time. You’re like, I can do everything. Then when you’re trying to have a mentor or whatever, I’m like, nah, you’re too old to understand what I’m trying to do. You just don’t appreciate it, you don’t appreciate the mentorship. Then from my perspective, I’m like, let’s not waste people’s valuable time so that they can waste their day speaking to a jelly can. I think as I’m going forward, certainly something I’m looking for or open to but don’t find the right person, I suppose. So if you’re the right person and you’re out there, hello, reach out.
[00:49:20] Kalani Scarrott: Because you can’t force today, it just comes across naturally and then before you know it, you are a mentor.
[00:49:25] Brittany Garbutt: I don’t have social media. I’m not online because I’m fucking working all the time. I don’t have time for all of this Schmoozy Doozy. I’m not generally in a place where there are other people who do what I do. I went to the QSR Media Awards this year because I won one of the awards, which was typical. It was interesting because coming from Perth, it’s very rare that you were ever in a room of people who do what I do. Over there, it was so crazy and interesting. People are there and you freaking name Harry, Jacks, KFC and Zambo roughs and they have their teams. When you speak, they relate. That was super cool, and I had such a fun day and I didn’t realize how much I think as a sole owner, I miss out on a lot. I don’t have people who are even my friends, we go out and they’re like, my boss has been a dickhead. I’m like, oh mine’s awful. I don’t really have that, sort of confiding bit. So, you’re like, fuck, these kids are annoying the shit out of me. I love my children but they can be very annoying, it happens. No one relates because you’re like, whom do I call? Let’s have a little rant about how 19 year olds fucking know everything now. So, mentorship is less important to me but someone who would be a mentor who can relate to what happens and what goes on.
[00:51:10] Kalani Scarrott: So, last question, curious on your thoughts, Perth is a blessing or a curse? Because sometimes we’re so secluded and it’s great because I can switch off and do my own thing and not be peer pressured. Whereas sometimes when you go to the QSR Awards, there’s all these people and there’s so many ideas and energy around, how do you find it?
00:51:31] Brittany Garbutt: If I could wear a sandwich board for the rest of my life that says Perth is the greatest city that has ever existed on the back and front, I would do it. I love this place and no shade to Melbourne whatsoever. But moving the stores over there, the expectation was wonderful, beautiful land of free, amazing and thinking people. For sure, but it’s not to the extent to which it is promised. And that was not a bad thing. It was such a learning curve. It was like, you don’t know what you got till you got it. People constantly ask me, why don’t you live in Melbourne? Why on earth would you not be in Melbourne? I like Perth. It’s the best. I love it here. And yes, it can be boring, but it is also super exciting if you know where to look. The community is so beautiful and so small and we all know each other here. When something exciting does come here or happen, you get this, like, big fish in a little pond moment. So you’re like, Fuck, there is a big fish arriving and there is only two and a half other medium sized fishes. I am one of them. So, you get the benefit of being near the big fish, if that makes sense. Whereas, in Melbourne, you can be a big fish but trust me, there’s a bigger one and then there’s a shark to come. So, you’re always constantly fighting. You never get this stop and stand still experience what you’re experiencing at the moment and you get a whole lot less collaboration. They work very hard to find a niche over there. They’ve got groups of people who do this and groups who do that because it’s so necessary. If you want any community, you really do have to delve straight into almost a stereotype. I love this. This is who I spend time together with because I love this. But Perth is more open to letting you love things and like multiple things and be a part of lots of little communities and be very important in those communities and also important in other ones. It’s such a great incubator, I think it is the best word to describe it and then if I lived in New York City and was traveling to Melbourne, I’d be like, oh, cool. Whereas when you live in Perth and you travel to Iowa, I don’t know, anywhere else. The poor people who listen to this, they’re going to like, blair out. Sorry, don’t play this with kids in the car but it’s all right. It’s so much more fun. I think it’s great to be here, be based here and know what we do. Don’t be mad when we’re a bit boring and also what I find is that we are not worried, and I love that about us. There isn’t an existential need to be driving a Porsche or Lamborghini. Maybe you should reach out to them for sponsorship because I have dropped the word Lamborghini so many times. They should be paying. I’ll send him an email, just get on the blower. But yeah, there’s so many good things about being not worried all the time. I can focus on my job, Side tangent, but talking to a friend of mine the other day and I said, oh, one of my kids was talking to me about Steve Jobs and how he wore the same outfit everywhere? They were like, oh, yeah, because like, yours is like I wear every single day of my fucking life, a baggy T shirt and shorts. They were like, because yours is like a baggy T-shirt and Jeans. I was like, what? They’re like, yes, you wear the same outfit every day. I’m like, no, I wear a different shirt every day and they were like, no, but it’s the same type of shirt every day and the same type of jeans or shorts every day. And I was like, yeah, it’s fucking practical. Why? I don’t have time to think about it, exactly like Steve Jobs. In Melbourne, no way wouldn’t fly, I’d be rude for not coming to my meeting looking cute. I’d be less impressed or what it is because they’re worried, but perhaps not worried. I rock up to a meeting most of the time they’re like, is your boss coming? I’m like, that’s me. Sorry. I am the boss. I know that dressing like a homeless person is fine. Let’s get going. No stress and moving on with their lives. Perth is not worried and I think that it’s a great place to grow up, it’s a great place to incubate, it’s a great place to be and I’m so grateful that I never went to Melbourne or Sydney to go work over there. I think it wouldn’t have turned out as fun and exciting for me as it has and does in Perth. Plus, our beaches flap. Our beaches are much better than all the beaches. I went to Thousand Miles, The one where Jack Sparrow is running down in the movie. Perth beaches are better. That’s the New York effect. Where I’m like, every city just must be compelling in comparison. Whereas I cannot travel to a beach and appreciate it because I’m like, fuck, they’re just better where I come from. I think maybe the French Riviera with the they’ve got pebbles. This is so completely unrelated. They’re fucking rocks. So, I went in the water, but couldn’t get out of the water because the rocks are turning. What are these rocks? Woods with sand, literally but it was a cool experience. Everyone’s wearing little shoes and I should have clocked it, then be like, why is everyone wearing little shoes? Then you can’t because these stones are so polished because they’ve been rolling around in the tide gray. You’re just running up a little rolling hill that never ends. They watch you because they know they’re tourists. She forgot her little shoes. Why didn’t someone put that in the pamphlet when I came here? Honestly, next time you will catch me wherever I was, Monte Carlo or whatever. Everyone’s looking fancy not me, got my little shoes on.
[00:58:03] Kalani Scarrott: I love it. Thank you so much for coming on tonight.
[00:58:09] Brittany Garbutt: Thanks for having me. It’s been fun.