Kristy Isaacson knew as a 13-year-old teenager living in Hawke's Bay that she wanted to be a chef. So after learning her trade at EIT and Wellington, she spent years travelling and working in kitchens around the world.
Eventually she returned home with a dream of combining her love of cooking with her aspirations of becoming a businesswoman, and with only one thing on her mind – success.
Failure was not an option and Kristy didn't waste energy worrying about what would happen if she didn't succeed. It turns out she need not have worried at all.
Kristy firstly "took a punt" on a little store on a side street in Hastings and opened MYLK (My Little Kitchen) Food Store.
Her main focus was supplying take-home meals for time-poor parents. The first week she and her sole worker sold "at most" 150 meals.
But demand soon took off and before long she had expanded her original site in Hastings to incorporate both a cafe and separate take-home meal store.
She then opened a new store and commercial kitchen on Ford Rd, Onekawa in Napier in 2017 and later that same year she started delivering her meals North Island-wide.
As she prepares to open her third premises at 7/87 Bridge St in Ahuriri on September 3, Kristy and her team now make 2,000 meals a day.
"Parents are busy these days," she says. "They want to feed their family good food but simply don't have the time every night to start from scratch."
Everything at MYLK is made from scratch using quality ingredients. Entrees, vegetables, mains and desserts arrive packaged and ready to pop in the oven or microwave.
"I use the best possible local ingredients and make everything by hand. The lasagne and macaroni cheese are probably the most popular. It's good, hearty, filling comfort food - it's not full of additives. It's just as you would make it yourself."
"All customers need to do is add a salad or some vegetables and their family gets a healthy, balanced meal. It's much cheaper than takeaways," she says
Kristy put the success and growth of her business down to high-quality food and flexible service, but also to good timing.
"I found a gap in the market at the right time. You do have to listen to what customers want and give them options. For instance, we have gluten-free and dairy-free options and, to a lesser degree, paleo."
Kristy and the team love being creative with food, and the proof is in the pudding.
Mylk Food Store
HASTINGS, 1/800 St Aubyn St, East, Parkvale
NAPIER, 7/87 Bridge St, Ahuriri (from the 3rd September)
Phone 06) 876 2003