As far as businesswomen go, Jacqui Toumbas is a baller. Literally. Halfway through studying a Bachelor of Health Science, Jacqui decided she wanted to take this a little further. How could she make healthy eating ‘cool’ and easy for people?
She made it cool and easy by launching the Miss Bliss Balls brand, offering healthy bliss balls to Brisbane cafés. They were so well-received that Jacqui’s humble little treats range grew to become Miss Bliss Whole Foods Kitchen, opening its doors in 2015.
We sat down with the savvy businesswoman to find out the story behind the bliss.
What inspired you to launch Miss Bliss Whole Foods Kitchen?
I've always had a passion for food and decided to study a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutrition. It was halfway through my degree I decided I wanted to take this a little differently. How could I make a change to the wider community? How could I make healthy eating 'cool' and easy for people? I first started with the Miss Bliss Treats brand by offering healthy bliss balls to local Brisbane cafés, from there it all happened so quickly, a shop front became available, fit out started and next thing you know Miss Bliss Whole Foods Kitchen was open! It was a crazy few months... but I can look back now and say I survived (and enjoyed every moment).
Why do you think it’s so important to lead a ‘blissful and nourishing' lifestyle?
When we talk about a blissful and nourishing life it isn't about grilled chicken and steam broccoli, it is about enjoying nourishing foods (no matter what dietary requirements you have) and nurturing your mind and soul as well. Food has been connected to mood, mental health, hormones and so much more. In the past century, we have seen a global shift in dietary intakes with an increase in consumption of fast food, sugars and high energy foods; and a decrease in nutrient-dense foods. Healthier, nourishing and better-quality diets have been linked to reduced depression, while increased depression has been linked to poorer diets and highly-processed foods.
You donate 20c from every coffee to Paradise4Kids, why is it so important to you to give back? Can you tell me a bit more about this charity?
Paradise4Kids was a charity my dad started over 12 years ago. Paradise4Kids supports the work of Father Themi in West Africa, who works to feed, educate and clothe children. Currently, Paradise4Kids looks after a school for the blind, a teacher college, the Syke St primary and secondary school and Waterloo primary school.
Every time an event was held I would help out and volunteer. It wasn't till 2011 when my dad came to me explaining how children were undernourished and had poor diets. I was then connecting with a company in the US and together worked with them on a micronutrient dense gel stick which we had shipped over to West Africa.
In 2012 I went over to implement the program and, as cliché as it sounds, it changed my life. What I saw on that trip was incredible, I came home with a mission, a mission to dedicate what I could to help the charity. Together with an awesome team of volunteers I held two Catwalk2Compassion events and raised over $50,000 to build a medical clinic at the Syke St School. Then when it came to opening the café I was struggling to work out how I would have the time to hold these events while running a business, so I made the promise to myself to dedicate 20c from every single coffee – no matter what – to the charity. At the moment, our monthly donation feeds the children of the blind school.
What inspires you as a businesswoman?
No one person inspires me – it is a community of women who inspire me to push the boundaries in business as a female. Brisbane has such a goal kicking community of businesswomen that it excites me to do more and push further.
What is your favourite thing on the menu?
Our menu has just changed! Summer 2018 is here! I'm a repeat avo offender. But if I had to choose something other than the avo it would be our grilled house flatbread with quinoa falafels, tahini paste, charred greens and nooch cheese.
Who is #TeamBliss made up of?
Some pretty epic people! First you have my sister #sisterbliss who does all the boring stuff, pays the bills, does wages etc. (couldn't survive without her), Head Chef Scarlett Nunns (yes, my first female chef!) she is incredible, innovative, inspiring and a hard a**, she runs the kitchen with her Sous Chef and Chef under her. Then in front of house, you have my main girl Maddie, who also does all our branding, and is the Head Barista (she makes a mean coffee), she works with me to lead my front of house girls.
What’s next for you? Do you have big plans for 2018?
I think I set myself some pretty big goals last year, then halfway through this year realised maybe I didn't want that anymore. For me, 2018 will be about redefining success for myself and doing some things for me. But for Miss Bliss, we have a wholesale range launching, possibly retail and delicious nourishing menus at the café. I have also recently launch Real Women Co. an online female based community with Katherine Beresford – I am pretty excited for some epic events for all women who hustle hard.