Ken Mahlab purchased Uncle Charlie’s, a cookie business, in 2004. It had gone under administration in 2003, 10 years after it was established.
In 2007, his wife Jacky Magid joined him at the business, which had now been renamed Charlie’s Cookies, leaving behind a high-flying eight year career as a lawyer in Melbourne.
“I’d come from a manufacturing family, so business development was always in my blood. Working in corporate litigation, I found myself counselling family businesses all the time,” Jacky shared with Anthill about her decision to leave the corporate world for entrepreneurship. “I thought it was time I practised what I was preaching.”
Jacky and Ken own and run the gourmet cookie company together as a family business.
And speaking of family business, Anthill has come to learn that the spirit of business spirit runs strong in this family – Jacky’s mother-in-law, Eve Mahlab was the first woman elected to the board of Westpac, won the Australian Businesswoman Of The Year award in 1982 and was awarded the Order of Australia in 1988.
The phoenix that rose out of the ashes of administration
Charlie’s Cookies has come an incredibly long way since 1994. As earlier mentioned, Jacky’s husband Ken bought the business in 2004 out of administration so their first major achievement was managing to bring it back to life.
Now, ten years later, they have transformed it into a successful boutique food service and retail brand renowned across Australia, securing strong partnerships along the way with some of Australia’s most prestigious hotels, convention centres and fine food retailers as well as big brands like Qantas Airlines and Virgin Lounges.
“Charlie’s Cookies makes happiness. We bake it in the oven with sugar, flour, butter (sometimes chocolate) and pack it in cute funky irresistible packaging,” Jacky told Anthill.
They recently launched a new product, Mini Melting Moments, which has won awards at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show and the RASV Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards.
“That was one of my proudest moments. Introducing something totally new to a cluttered and competitive market place demonstrates to the marketplace the sort of innovation and excitement that we experience every day at Charlie’s Cookies,” Jacky remarked.
Of course, as with all things entrepreneurial, there have been some challenges on the way.
“The gourmet cookie industry is very fragmented. It’s a real challenge to get your product in front of all your potential buyers. Developing a multi-faceted sales model has been critical to Charlie’s Cookies,” Jacky revealed.
On how her previous career has helped with running Charlie’s Cookies, Jacky commented, “Every business has daily challenges and when you’re in a sales role, you tend to be at the coal-face of those little challenges. My skills around problem-solving and conflict resolution always help you keep a mutually beneficial outcome as the end goal.”
Social responsibility remains dear to Charlie’s Cookies
Jacky has also ensured that social responsibility remains core to the business’ true values. Charlie’s Cookies has strong social and community commitment and supports a number of philanthropic and educational groups.
With a strong emphasis on feeding the hungry and supporting local community, Charlie’s Cookies donates at least $50,000 worth of cookies each year to FareShare, local community groups and other sponsorship programs. Charlie’s Cookies was also a recent sponsor of The Feed Melbourne Appeal.
Jacky is now also a current board member of The Royal Women’s Hospital Foundation.