At the start of the pandemic, Ayla Cicekdag lost her job but she got to work launching a new snacking brand into Sydney’s IGA supermarkets, which has netted her $500,000 in just a year.
The Sydney resident had spotted a gap in the market – her girlfriend was passionate about baklava – but it wasn’t a treat that could easily be picked up at the supermarket.
The product was already developed by an Australian manufacturer and she decided to jump on it by putting a brand behind it and bringing it to market.
She called the business FOMO Snacks and had a woman’s face as the centrepiece for the branding – providing a modern feel for a traditional taste, she said.
“We wanted to create a really fun image and a really fun name that was relevant to our generation,” she told news.com.au.
“For me, I wanted to focus on something that was going to be memorable and quirky and my girlfriend at the time, we used her face and we wanted to make it look like she was screaming as she is missing out on something, so that’s how FOMO Snacks was founded.”
Cold calling and leveraging off contacts she had from working in the food industry nabbed her an IGA deal, where the snacks are sold for between $7.95 and $8.95.
“IGA and BPs and metro petrol stations they want to offer a point of difference and offer things that Coles and Woolies don’t have. We offer a niche,” she said.
There are 14 options in the range including baklava, which comes in pistachio, Nutella and biscoff flavours, along with a range of biscuits such as almond, mixed petit four, Nutella and jam daisy.
“We really focused on the grab and go market – that’s a $10 billion industry in Australia alone,” she said.
“From the research we did, we found a consumer will consume the product within the first five minutes of leaving the store … We knew during COVID any exposed products wouldn’t be purchased … that’s where really we honed in on the market. There were no trays of baklava sold in stores and people want them pre-packaged so that was our target market.”
FOMO Snacks also has a range of fairy floss buckets in flavours like sour apple, bubblegum, watermelon and blue raspberry.
The 38-year-old admits that she always struggled at school and is grateful for the success she has found as an entrepreneur, particularly after she became jobless.
But she has big plans for the brand, including creating different flavours of baklava, but also expanding into importing “some cool snacks from America”.
She has also inked a deal with one of Australia’s largest wholesalers, Metcash, which should take the brand national in six months.
“I’ve always had the persistence to try and even when I’ve failed I’ve learnt,” she added. “The difference between FOMO Snacks and anything else I’ve done is, I found the right opportunity at the right time. Everything before this point, has been preparation.”