Erin and Loren started Lady Hester six years ago. The sisters decided to create a business in the food industry when Loren returned from working overseas. Erin and Loren were living on the East Coast of Tasmania when they first started Lady Hester as a market stall in Bicheno. The sisters named their business after a female explorer, Lady Hester. Hester was a British adventurer in the 1800s who travelled the Middle East. The sisters were inspired by the brave woman and resonated with her love for the Middle East. Erin and Loren’s cooking has always been inspired by Middle Eastern flavours. The Bicheno market stall sold a range of cake and sweet treats, but it was an endeavor to make sourdough donuts that paved the way for the business’ expansion.
Pictured: Lady Hester’s sourdough donuts
Following the sourdough donuts initial popularity, Loren applied for a stall at MONA’s Dark Mofo Winter Feast Festival. At this time, Lady Hester was still growing, and Erin and Loren were faced with the challenge of changing from baking 50 doughnuts to 5,000 doughnuts. The sisters slept on yoga mats in the Battery Point Community Hall and overcame all the obstacles that came their way. Their hard work paid off and their Winter Feast stall was a success.
Pictured: Loren Clarke
The success of their stall at the Winter Feast lead to a regular spot at the Farmgate Market. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Tasmania, the sisters lost 40% of their sales from the market. They were faced with a choice. If they downsized their business to just the two of them, they probably would have been survived. Instead of doing this, the sisters chose to thrive and increase their business despite the adversities being faced. The sisters had been considering opening a shop for years, so when the pandemic forced them to make a big change, a shop was the logical choice. A shopfront and kitchen in Battery Point became available and the sisters jumped at the chance to lease it.
‘We didn’t want to go backwards so we decided to take a chance and do something different.’
Three weeks ago, the Lady Hester shop on Sandy Bay Rd opened. It has already been a huge success with fans of Lady Hester were quick to support the new shop. Most importantly, the Clarke sisters have been enjoying the new challenge.
‘After six years, it is nice to do something new’
The new shop sells a range of sweet and savoury treats. The menu is constantly changing as they try out new ideas. People can expect a slice of cake, something gluten free and, of course, donuts to be available consistently, but flavours will change regularly.
Pictured: Lady Hester’s food cabinet
The Clarke sisters have loved starting and owning a business together. Loren believes that being sisters makes business easier, because even when they argue they always forgive each other easily. Their relationship is also made easier because they are very close and have similar taste in everything from food to aesthetic. Their similar taste means that they rarely have completely conflicting opinions on business decisions.
Pictured: Erin (left) and Loren (right).
Loren’s advice for people who run a business together is to do things that are not business related. The sisters regularly catch up and agree to not talk about business. They believe it is important to have time together when they are not working.
Loren’s second piece of advice is to allocate each person specific jobs. Initially, the sisters just did the work as it became available. This led to conflict because they each thought they were working harder than the other. Allocating jobs means they both know how busy each other are and neither thinks they work harder than the other.
The sisters have always felt very lucky that they have had the opportunity to work together doing what they love. They have reduced some of the stress of owning a business by being appreciative and taking things one day at a time. Before every market stall, they would say to each other ‘if it ends tomorrow it doesn’t matter, we’ve had a great run.’ They have continued this attitude to this day.
‘If it ends tomorrow, it doesn’t matter we have had a great run.’
You can find Loren and Erina at 52 Sandy Bay Rd Battery Point from 9:30-3:30, Wednesday to Saturday. They are continuing their stall at the Farm Gate Market on Sundays.
Pictured: Lady Hester’s shop
To keep up to date with Lady Hester’s news and what sweet treats are available in the cabinet each day, connect with them online at https://www.facebook.com/ladyhestereats/