The popular Auckland cookie store announced last month it would close its physical store on Wellesley St West, following an apparently-unsuccessful petition at the end of last year to prevent the landlord from increasing Moustache’s rent by 36 percent.
Instead of winding down the business or relocating elsewhere, owner Deanna Yang plans to reinvent Moustache as a travelling cookie bus. Having already bought a 10-metre-long bus in 2014, Yang took to crowdfunding platform PledgeMe last month seeking to raise $80,000 to strip, restore and covert it into a rolling shop complete with commercial kitchen.
“Last year, when confronted with a big problem, I thought the best logical way to solve my life problem was to spend every single cent I had to buy a friggen 10-metre-long bus,” Yang wrote in her blog. “Because, that’s just logical, right?”
Yang says the Moustache store currently remains open, but its tenancy is uncertain. It could be allowed to stay at the Wellesley St West site for up to 11 months or just two, so getting the Moustache bus on the road means Yang can provide job security for her 13 staff.
“If we did close in two months [before funding for the bus restoration was secured], everyone would lose their jobs.”
Moustache had a close shave with the month-long fundraising drive, which yesterday met its target with just 48 hours to go before deadline. Under PledgeMe’s rules, campaigns which do not meet their funding targets before their deadline receive no pledged funds. As of noon today, members of the public had promised $85,797 to Moustache.
Moustache’s PledgeMe broke PledgeMe’s record for the most amount of pledgers to a single campaign. With one day to go, 1178 people have pledged to it.
Yang describes the campaign as a “nailbiter.”
“I think it was a lot more stressful than I had anticipated,” she says. “There was a lot of background work because the campaign needs a lot of content to keep up momentum, but that’s all part of the process, part of the fun.”
After suffering through a month when, at times, she was so stressed she couldn’t sleep, Yang is now relieved and humbled by the positive result. She plans to keep the pressure on until the PledgeMe campaign ends tomorrow to achieve a “strong finish” and then recuperate this weekend before leaping into restoring the bus.
Yang’s brother, an electrical engineer, will be in charge of the Moustache bus’s restoration. The pair hope to have the ‘Mo Bus’ rolling by August, enabling Yang and her staff to embark on a national Moustache tour during the summer.
How she did it
Like Auckland food retailers Little Bird, Yang offered her pledgers “rewards” in the form of presales. Pledgers offered up to $10,000 in exchange for sponsorship deals, branded merchandise, visits from the Moustache bus, party invitations and, of course, cookies.
Yang also founded an “Official Moustache Fan Club” offering a membership card, special merchandise and discounts. Donating $150 or more bought customers entry into the bronze, silver or gold membership tier.
On Monday, Yang and Wellington boutique brewers Garage Project launched a phenomenally successful branded collaboration called “Moustache x Garage Project.” The project had been a long time coming, Yang says, and was released near the end of the PledgeMe campaign as the limited-run “Cookie & Cream Ale” and beer cookies each took a lot of product testing and development to produce.
Sold as packages, with the beer bottles numbered one to 150, the collaborative products all sold out within hours.
“It was like, ‘Whoa, I didn’t anticipate that,” Yang says. “It’s been really crazy and I’ve got so many emails from people wanting more.”