Mixed heritage helps inspire this milk and cookie maven
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.’’