Jacqui Toumbas, 29 is the Owner and Founder of Miss Bliss Whole Foods Kitchen / Miss Bliss Pantry / Miss Bliss Treats
What inspired you to create the Miss Bliss Wholefoods concept?
I come from a typical big Greek family where everything revolves around food! My passion for food lead me to study my degree at QUT in Health Science majoring in Nutrition. During my studies I noticed a gap in the market for whole foods (food that have been processed or refined as little as possible and is free from additives or other artificial substances). I wanted to create a concept where everyone felt welcome, and where you didn’t have to be a health food fanatic to enjoy our foods.
What do you believe sets Miss Bliss apart from the rest?
We cook and create with honesty, integrity, and nutrition in mind. We're all about good food and good vibes!
Tell us about your famous bliss balls. During my studies, I started a food blog sharing recipes I made for myself. I started making bliss balls for study snacks and got such a good response from them that I would share different flavor recipes. One year I made them as Christmas gifts and gifted a batch to my local café as a thank you for keeping me caffeinated during exams. One thing lead to another and they wanted to stock them to sell. I noticed a gap in the market, where general cafes wanted to stock healthy products to appeal to health-conscious customers. From there, the brand organically grew from one stockist to over 25 in 6 months and the rest is history.
As a business owner, many think it's a luxury when in fact it's early mornings and late nights almost 7 days a week. How do you find balance?
I’m not going to lie, I still struggle to find balance. I’ve learnt to listen to my body and understand when I am on the verge of exhaustion and need a break. I schedule time every Sunday evening to plan my week ahead, block out some ‘me time’, fitness and hobbies. Some weeks are easier than others, but trying to keep in routine really helps.
What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
COOK! I love being at home, with my music playing and experimenting in the kitchen (maybe not the clean up afterwards as much). Spending time with supportive friends and family is also very important to me.
What do you do to relax?
Getting some sun, reading a book or listening to a podcast is probably my go-to relaxation at the moment. Just being able to zone out!
What is your favourite recipe?
Currently I am addicted to baking healthy cookies! (I think it’s the cold weather). Nothing like a good hot cup of tea paired with a freshly baked cookie. I started using spelt flour which is a whole grain and high in protein (it also has an amazing flavour in baked goodies). I shared the recipe on the Miss Bliss Blog here www.missblisswholefoodskitchen.com.au/miss-bliss-blog/speltcookies
Best health tip?
Listen to your body, eat whole foods, drink lots of water and enjoy every meal!
Favourite quote or a motto that you live by?
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".
Sweet or savoury gal?
Contrary to my current cookie baking addiction – I love savoury!
You've recently opened your pop-up shop on James Street, how's it going and are you looking to franchise or expand your brand further?
Miss Bliss Pantry – James Street is going so well, it actually took me by surprise. New Farm is amazing, our customers are incredible and the area is perfect for the brand. I have promised myself no more this year and to focus on doing what we do to an exceptional level and focus a little bit more on me. As for next year, you never know what can happen!
What do you look for when creating your new season menu?
I work really closely with my team, we have a theme for each season and communicate with our produce suppliers on seasonal flavours. Forecasting trends and understanding our market all go into consideration for each menu change.
How do you stay motivated in winter? We are so lucky in Brisbane to not have a freezing cold winter. Most days are beautiful, sunny and crisp. I don’t feel I need any more ‘extra’ motivation in winter than I do any other season.
I was lucky and grateful to have you cater some delicious goodies for my daughters 1st Birthday last year, is event catering and styling something you enjoy?
YES! I absolutely love every aspect of catering and events. Working hand in hand with clients to create something special for them and their guests is such a rewarding experience.
Number 1 ingredient when cooking?
Salt! My chef has recently taught me the importance of seasoning when cooking – seriously even in sweet dishes, it makes the biggest difference!
Beauty product you can't live without?
Currently my Dr. Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peel! It has worked wonders on my skin since I had a massive breakout from stress.
Favourite holiday destination?
As much as I love travelling overseas – I hate flying! Currently my favourite destination is Byron Hinterland, finding a secluded Air BnB and just hibernating for a few days is pure bliss.
Where do you love to shop in Brisbane?
Since opening Miss Bliss Pantry I am in love with James Street, my current addiction is Aje!
Fav cocktail or mocktail?
The J.Lo (gin, elderflower and pomegranate liqueurs and lime juice) cocktail from Comuna Cantina Albert Lane.
Biggest challenge in life and in business?
I hate to say it but being in business as a female is hard. I never thought it would be an issue but I have dealt with a few situations where it was a challenge. As for life challenges, I would have to say routine. I am a very organised person and when my routine is ruined I find it hard to find my balance.
Best advice given to you?
Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks of you, put your head down, work hard and success will prevail.
Advice you'd give to anyone looking at starting their own business or brand?
Determination, persistence, and a shit load of coffee is all you need! You can never be over prepared!
How do you find social media? Have you ever dealt with any negativity or online trolling?
I have just started to get my personal social media back in routine (@therealmissbliss) so far I haven’t dealt with any negativity, but I have seen friends go through it which is hard to watch. In terms of the business social media accounts we have had other businesses copy menu items and use photos without credit. It’s heartbreaking because we put in so much love and attention into what we do, I just have to look at it as flattering, we must be doing something right!
How do you stay healthy and keep fit?
I schedule pilates, yoga and walks in my calendar weekly, if it’s in my calendar it will happen. I try to do multiple different things to keep me motivated and excited.
Plans for the future?
Redefine success for myself. This means having a balance between work, social outings, fitness and health. I still haven’t found that happy balance and it excites me knowing I am working towards it.
What brings you the most joy?
Is it weird that I find joy being in the kitchen? Hahaha, I really enjoy being around positive and motivating people, meeting and networking with new people brings me joy and happiness.
Your day on a plate?
Breakfast: Eggs, toast, avocado and a long black.
Lunch: Anything from work. If the kitchen is busy I will grab something from the cabinet (the chefs have been making some amazing salads lately).
Dinner: Homemade nourish bowl (currently obsessed with rocket, brown rice, salmon, greens, cucumber dill raita).
My work with Paradise 4 Kids. In 2012 I travelled to Freetown Sierra Leone to work with the Paradise 4 Kids mission. I developed a micro-nutrient rich gel stick with an American company to implement a nutritional program. On my return home, as cliché as it sounds, it changed my life. From that day on I vowed to make a difference. We now donate 20c from every coffee sold at any Miss Bliss store to Paradise 4 Kids, this has helped build an orphanage, feed the children of a blind school and help maintain schools, colleges and needs of the children. As a global community I believe it is our job to help others.
I’ve grown up watching my brother and cousins play soccer, it's probably the only sport I actually understand (I can’t believe I just admitted that haha).
Fave sports brand?
I’m such a Lululemon fan, the quality is amazing and the fit is so comfortable!
If money was no object what would you do all day - every day?
I would have a little home somewhere just outside of Byron and a tiny café where I can still enjoy cooking and my love of what I do but on a smaller scale. I would have a garden where I can grow produce and spend my days cooking, being by the ocean and just enjoying life.
What does your perfect day look like?
Wake up 5:30am – 6am, get ready and go into work. I'll spend the morning with my team at both locations. I like to find a quiet café to sit at and do 2-3 hours’ worth of work on my own or lunch with a friend. Then head back to the shop for a quick check up and prepare anything for the next day. Head to yoga in the afternoon to reset, then head home to cook dinner and relax.
WE DINED - Alfred and Constance
WE DEVOURED - Antipasto platter
WE DRANK - Rose
JACQUI WORE - Sass and Bide Knit, Jbrand Denim, Zara Boots
KAYLA WORE - Cecilie Copenhagen Dress, Viktoria Woods Denim Jacket, Mollini Boots