'Everyone should be a waitress once' - Melissa Burton, Goody Good Stuff

The confectioner says she wanted to be a lawyer, but making candy is sweeter - and explains that however ethical your product, trying to sell it from a plain cardboard box is not easy...

by Amber De Smet
Last Updated: 05 Aug 2014

1. IF YOU HAD DONE SOMETHING ELSE WHAT WOULD IT HAVE BEEN?

I was actually studying to become a lawyer when I started my first business. Being a lawyer would be exciting, but I don’t think I’d have the satisfaction I have now. 

2. WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU NAME YOUR BUSINESS?

At first, we played around with ‘Moreish Moments’, but that doesn’t communicate ‘healthy’, whereas Goody Good Stuff does. Goody Good Stuff came to us in the middle of the night once, during a brainstorming session.

3. IF YOU COULD BE BASED IN ANOTHER CITY WHERE WOULD IT BE?

I would love to set up a business in the developing areas around New York City. I would like to play a positive part in the social, and economic developments of the communities there.

4. WHEN YOU STARTED, HOW DID YOU RAISE MONEY?

I started my first company when I was 23 with a very small amount of start up capital. When I sold that company in 2009, I invested the money from the sale in creating Goody Good Stuff.

5. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST IMPORTANT DECISION SO FAR?

Probably to market and create a product that was fit for everyone, despite the fact that a lot of people told me that there wasn’t a market for it at the time. People were worried that it was more expensive and that nobody would pay more for sweets. But that is not the case - people will always pay more for quality and specialty.

6. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST MISTAKE?

When I first started, I didn’t know that much about the retail market. So I created my first case pack, and it was a brown, cardboard box with 24 bags of sweets in it. But when you go into a supermarket you notice all how all the boxes are displayed. So it was a real achievements to get people to list our items without a display case, and I had to go back to the drawing board and start all over again on that. Basically nobody wanted it without a display.

7. WHAT IDEA DO YOU WISH YOU HAD COME UP WITH?

I wish I had invented solar panel roadways.

8. HOW DO YOU HANDLE STRESS?

I do cardiovascular exercise and run to work every day. If you don’t switch off, you’ll just burn out.

9. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB?

When I was young my mother had a bakery. We’d start at five in the morning and bake hot cross buns and all kinds of bread. The smell made me hungry all the time, though – I ate a lot of bread back then. I still love the smell of a bakery.

10. WHAT WAS YOUR WORST JOB?

There was one job that lasted less than 24 hours – I started in the morning and left at midday because it was so horrible. It was a call centre, where I had to do telesales for insurance. The combination of call centre and insurance was just dire.

11. WHAT WAS YOUR BEST JOB?

When I was in college I worked as a waitress and ended up running part of a restaurant in Colorado. It was everything from wine carrying to menus to the marketing of the business. It was wonderful, I learnt a lot about food and I even ended up paying for school with that.

I think everybody should do waitressing at least once in their life – you learn multitasking and it also teaches you about manners and being polite.

12. IF YOU WERE ON THE APPRENTICE WOULD YOUR TEAM BE NAMED?

The Goody Good Go Getters.

13. WHAT COMPANY WOULD YOU INVEST IN RIGHT NOW?

At the moment I’d invest in an industry that I understand: health and wellness. So it would probably be something in the realm of protein dietary enhancement and healthy snacking.

14. APART FROM PROPERTY, WHAT IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE THING YOU’VE BOUGHT?

When we exceeded our goal target at the end of last year, I went on holiday with my fiancé. It was a massive tour all over the United States. We’re always so busy, so the only time we can go away is at Christmas, when everybody else is off work and I don’t constantly have to check my email.

15. SUIT OR JEANS?

People will think I’m crazy, but I prefer wearing my business attire. My friends do always ask me ‘why don’t you have any casual clothes?’ but a suit just makes me feel more confident. I own a bunch of jeans, but they don’t get out very often.

16. FLEXIBLE WORKING OR OFFICE HOURS?

My average day is 4am to 10pm, so I probably should call it ‘flexible’. But when it comes to my team, they have normal office hours. I also try to be understanding when they want to incorporate extra training or family responsibilities.

17. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT THE OFFICE?

My favourite thing is our meetings on Friday – I am actually on my way to that right now. We sit down with a drink and all come up with as many ideas as we can, and write them on a big board. Out of them we pick ideas about how we want to progress and shake up the business to become more profitable, proficient and exciting.

18. WHAT APP CAN’T YOU LIVE WITHOUT?

Skyscanner, for all my worldwide travel.

19. WHO IS YOUR BUSINESS IDOL?

Karren Brady is a massive inspiration – the way she balances family life and her other roles. She has to make tough decisions, but she is still seen as having a very warm demeanour. I think a lot of women struggle to find to find that balance – as a businesswoman you tend to become quite hard. A lot of women think they have to lose their femininity.

20. IF YOU WERE PRIME MINSTER FOR THE DAY, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?

I would crack down on all the big companies owing VAT, and I would use that money to reduce the VAT rate, because it is a huge negative factor. If we reduce VAT, the whole economy would be stimulated. It’s 20% on top of the original price, so why can’t we get that out of the big companies?

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