Mixed her­itage helps in­spire this milk and cookie maven

Central Leader - - NEWS -

The most sur­pris­ing thing about Mous­tache Milk and Cookie Bar isn’t the quirky menu but the age of its owner.

Deanna Yang was only 21 when she opened the Welles­ley St West busi­ness in Septem­ber 2012.

Even then it was a long time com­ing.

She’d been dream­ing about open­ing the shop since she was 8 years old.

She started de­vel­op­ing the busi­ness plan while study­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions at AUT.

People told her the idea was too niche but she was sure it would work. ‘‘Grow­ing up we didn’t have much money but mum’s home­made cook­ies and milk didn’t cost that much. It would pick up my whole day.’’

Yang says her con­fi­dence could be down to her Chi­nese and Sin­ga­porean her­itage. Liv­ing be­tween Asian and New Zealand cul­tures means she has a a broader un­der­stand­ing of how people live and in­ter­act in the world.

The Grey Lynn res­i­dent bought a juice stand at La Ci­gale French Mar­ket in Par­nell while in her sec­ond year at univer­sity so she could learn more about busi­ness and earn some cap­i­tal.

She was also work­ing part-time jobs as a com­mu­ni­ca­tions ad­viser, a re­tail sales as­sis­tant and an usher.

It wasn’t easy jug­gling all those com­mit­ments, Yang says. On Wed­nes­days she would be at the fruit mar­ket buy­ing sup­plies from 3am till 6am and then she’d head to univer­sity for an 8am class.

‘‘I’m a bit of a worka­holic. I knew I wanted to open the shop straight af­ter uni and for that to hap­pen there was no other way around it. I knew a bank wouldn’t lend me money be­cause of my age and be­cause I don’t have any as­sets.’’

Fam­ily has been an im­por­tant part of the ven­ture.

Her brother loaned her $10,000 to help her get started and her mother has al­ways been her in­spi­ra­tion.

‘‘She raised us three chil­dren as a solo mother. Be­cause we grew up poor she would al­ways tell us that we were like lo­tus flow­ers; they grow in swamps and dirty wa­ter but the flower comes out so beau­ti­ful.

‘‘No mat­ter what cir­cum­stances you are in you can make the most of it.’’

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