Brooki Bakehouse in Brisbane, Queensland, has been making waves across the internet and around the world with its sensational products and engaging videos. Baking Business sat down with Brooke Saward, owner of the business and brains behind its success, to learn more about how she got her start in the industry, what goes into the viral success of Brooki Bakehouse, and what visions she has for her future in the industry.
Brooke Saward’s first baking-related inspirations came from learning how to make chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen with her mum.
“I was probably more interested in licking the beaters clean,” Brooke laughs.
“As I got older, I realised how great my mum was at baking. Her chocolate chip cookies were very good, so good that all of my friends would put in requests for them to continue making their way into my lunchbox.”
Learning by her mother’s side inspired Brooke’s love of all things baked, although baking wasn’t the initial path that Brooke went down when she began her career. She spent ten years touring the world as a travel writer before landing in Brisbane with her fiancé.
“[We] had our hearts set on a move to the Sunshine State, having both grown up in Tasmania. With all the growth and buzz around Brisbane, we thought this would be the perfect place for us to move to for ample opportunities,” Brooke says.
And so Brisbane was the place where the idea of Brooki Bakehouse was born.
“The idea behind Brooki was to create a bakery that specialised in celebrations beyond cake. We love cake at Brooki, but we also think there are so many other ways to give the gift of sweetness—like a thank-you box of macarons or arriving with a box of cookies to your friend’s dinner party,” says Brooke.
“I really wanted the products to centre around celebrations and gift giving, which is why I place so much emphasis on packaging and brand design as I believe it is such an important part of gift giving.”
When Brooki Bakehouse first opened in 2022, the bakery remained quiet and unknown for the first eight months, Brooke says. Not having a strong network in Brisbane hindered the process of getting the word out.
However, Brooke says, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
“It forced me to get the word out there myself. I started sharing day-in-my-life videos on TikTok as a way to keep myself occupied and entertained, because I was in the bakery by myself a lot of the time, working 12 to 15-hour days just to get everything done,” she says.
Not long after starting these videos, Brooki Bakehouse became a viral internet sensation, something that, according to Brooke, didn’t happen instantly or without a lot of hard work on her part.
“It’s funny how much work goes into creating an overnight success!” Brooke says.
“At that time I had no idea what the bakery would become or even that our cookies would become the star of the show—I really was just putting my products out there for market feedback and listening to what customers said.
“Sharing my days on social media increased that feedback a hundred times over, which in turn led me to start shipping our most popular product— our cookies— in the mail.”
Having this new online audience meant that Brooke was able to grow the business and start reaching many more people, both online and IRL (in real life, for those not in the know!).
Despite the heavily increased foot traffic to the Brooki Bakehouse store in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, and the legions on Brooki stans on social media, Brooke still maintains an online presence, which she acknowledges is not an easy task by any means.
“It’s definitely a lot of work, first and foremost!” she laughs.
“But the truth is that consistency is key when creating a community based around your content. I genuinely love sharing the ins and outs of owning a business and if I inspire one person a day to follow their own dream of owning a business, I would say that’s a successful day.
“I like to share the behind the scenes of owning a business in the hopes of inspiring others and on a personal level, I think it will be such a rewarding experience to look back in two years, five years or ten years and see what I have built in real time.”
Although, for some, there might be a worry about becoming over-saturated in the internet market, Brooke says that this isn’t something she worries about.
“It never crosses my mind,” she says.
“I think the more you think about things, you give yourself more reasons not to do something. I’m just out here doing what I love every day, and as long as people keep enjoying the videos and the things we bake, I’m going to keep doing it!”
With her focus firmly on the now of her business, Brooke is working on the overseas expansion of the business, but this isn’t without its difficulties.
“Shipping perishable products domestically is one thing but shipping internationally definitely poses its own set of unique complications and considerations. We’re moving slowly with the decisions we make and listening carefully to customer feedback, as ultimately the only reason we decided to start shipping overseas was because so many followers online asked for it,” she says.
“I’m in the trial-and-error phase of business, where being such a young company we can try things and take risks without answering to investors— so it’s a process of learning on the go and each day there are new challenges to face, new hurdles to overcome.
“But life doesn’t happen to you without taking risks, and I think business should be approached in the same way – you’re not going to create any waves of excitement without doing things differently, so it’s about being creative, innovative, and more important than anything, being brave to take risks.”
As for the future, Brooke says there are quite a few different things in the works, both in and out of the bakery.
“For quite a while now I’ve been working on a longer shelf-life product to be on supermarket shelves and be able to break into new markets worldwide. That’s quite a time-consuming process but I’m learning along the way. I’d love to open a second store and already know which city that will be in, so watch this space to find out where the next Brooki will be!
“Outside of the bakery I’m also working on a very exciting project which I can’t announce just yet – but this will launch in the new year and has been taking up quite a lot of my time outside of the bakehouse. It’s a huge career achievement so I’m very excited to share what I’m working on as soon I am able to,” she says.
Images courtesy Sophie Andressand