Growth & Customers

Start a thriving business from your kitchen table

Discover how Kiana Gomes created a thriving business from her kitchen table, generated 2.5 million TikTok views, and received 30,000 customer emails.

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After losing her job during the pandemic, Kiana Gomes was on the hunt to find a way to make money, but her custom cake business didn’t quite take off, so she soon switched to create hot chocolate bombs.

Although she made a whopping $60,000 in just 4 months, the interest in her products started to die, meaning it was time to pivot again.

With a fizzing idea to adapt the hot chocolate bombs into cocktail recipes, Kiana posted a TikTok video of her cocktail bombs in action, and it generated a staggering 2.5 million views, along with 30,000 emails from eager customers waiting for it’s product launch.

In this episode, Kiana delves into the importance of leveraging social media and email marketing, as well as her experience on Dragons’ Den, and how you can take action to start your business journey.

Here’s her unfiltered advice below:

How a $60 bag of chocolate turned into $60,000

Bex Burn-Callander:

I can’t wait to hear this story. Do you want to just start off by telling us why cocktails? Why was that the idea that sparked this great invention?

What’s so great about cocktails?

Kiana Gomes:

So, to be honest with you, I never really had a plan to start a cocktail business, it just evolved into the cocktail bomb.

So, I’ll start by telling my story. So, pretty much, when the pandemic hit, I was in university studying journalism, and I was also working at a soap store at my local mall which surprisingly used to sell bath bombs.

And then after I lost my job, I had no more revenues and I needed to make some money. I always had a passion for baking and cooking so I decided I would start making custom cakes from my house.

So, I started cake decorating and there were just cakes everywhere and then I started to sell them on, believe it or not, Facebook Marketplace.

And people were actually buying these cakes, I was getting a ton of orders but, to be honest with you, I really wasn’t making any money, it was more of a passion project than anything else.

So, I knew I needed to find something else, and a friend of mine sent me a viral video for hot chocolate bombs.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with those, they’re basically these balls of chocolate and there’s marshmallows and hot chocolate powder inside them, you put them into warm milk, and they melt to make you a hot chocolate.

So, my friend said, “Try making those, they are so popular,” I’m like, “Okay, let me try.”

So, I went to the store with my boyfriend, I bought this huge bag, $60 worth of chocolate and he was like, “Why are you buying all this chocolate? No one is going to buy these things,” and I was like, “Let me try, let’s just see what happens.”

I go home, make some hot chocolate bombs and I put them on Facebook Marketplace, I made a website too on Shopify, I even put them on Etsy as well, and overnight we started selling like crazy.

Long story short, from November up until Valentine’s Day, we sold 12,000 hot chocolate bombs, so about $60,000 worth of product from my kitchen.

And at that time, I had my mum helping me, my boyfriend, my boyfriend’s mum, my friends, just everybody was making hot chocolate bombs. It was crazy. It was full of chocolate everywhere.

And then after that Valentine’s Day, the business just, it completely died, it was over.

So, I was a little bit sad because at that point I thought I had a business and I needed to find something else again.

And I was like, “I don’t want to go back to cake decorating.”

So I started to look online, and I saw a bartender that had made an edible bath bomb for a Patron special event, as a one-time thing, and I was like, “That’s cool but you don’t know how to make these things. How do you even do this?”

So, from my own kitchen once again, I started prototyping, I started trying different recipes for about a month. They weren’t all good, a lot of them were fails but I just kept trying and trying and finally I found the idea for the cocktail bomb and I had my final prototype.

So, the evolution of how I got to cocktails was just a bunch of things that happened and me never giving up. So, yeah, that’s pretty much how I got into the cocktail space.

Set parameters when looking at ideas for your business

Bex Burn-Callander:

And were there parameters you set when you were looking for a business idea that would work? Did it have to be long shelf life, easy to post so it has to fit through the mailbox? Were there things that you had on your tick list that you had to meet for it to be the right product?

Kiana Gomes:

Yeah, so one thing that I really wanted was something that didn’t break during transit because what I learned from the hot chocolate bombs is that it’s a real disaster to ship chocolate, it breaks and then you get a high amount of refunds, and you have no choice but to give them if the product breaks.

So, I really wanted to find something that wasn’t breakable.

And also, as probably many of you know, when you’re shipping a product, you want to make sure that it doesn’t weigh too much or else all of your margins are going to get eaten up by shipping costs, so the cocktail bombs were perfect in that sense.

Reinvest your profits back into the business

Bex Burn-Callander:

That’s amazing. So, how did you fund the early days of the business? Were you just basically reinvesting all the profit from the hot chocolate bombs into the cocktail bomb business? Was that your seed capital?

Kiana Gomes:

Yeah, so I think I was pretty lucky, honestly, with the way that things evolved.

So, as I was saying, I got that $60 bag of chocolate that I see as my initial investment into everything. Then, from that, we made $60,000, that wasn’t all profit, I’d have to check what my profits were on that, but it was pretty high, it wasn’t super low.

And then after that, for the prototypes and everything, I just took that money to start prototyping, but it wasn’t much. Well, there was a lot of time involved, obviously, but maybe not more than $500 to $1000 of ingredients to experiment.

And then the first day when we launched Cocktail Bomb Shop, here is where I think there was a blessing, we were able to sell for $20,000 and at that point my expenses were pretty low because basically everyone in my family was working for free.

So, I was able to really take the capital from the first day and reinvest it into the business.

Try to avoid Facebook Marketplace as a platform to start your business

Bex Burn-Callander:

And so you sold the hot chocolate bombs on Facebook Marketplace, but did you do the same route to market with the cocktail bombs to test the water to see if people were interested, or did you go straight through a different marketing channel?

Kiana Gomes:

So, selling on Facebook Marketplace is really a disaster for everybody that wants to sell on Facebook Marketplace.

If you’re selling your old couch, it’s a great place to sell but, to start a business, it’s not serious.

You have people texting you at all hours of the day, “Meet me here”, “Bring me this now”, calling you, texting you, “Okay, meet me in this parking lot”.

And I feel like you just can’t grow.

So, I didn’t want the cocktail bombs to be a Facebook Marketplace product, I really wanted it to be an online store.

And I thought in my head, if my online store doesn’t work, I will sell them on Facebook Marketplace, it was my backup, but it wasn’t an avenue that I wanted to take initially just because I feel like it’s not serious.

2.5 million TikTok views and 30,000 emails

Bex Burn-Callander:

And how did you win your first customers then? Because at least if you’re on Facebook, as you say, it’s a disaster but there’s a captive audience already there.

Whereas, when you start a website, no one knows you exist yet. So, how did you get those eyeballs?

Kiana Gomes:

So, I didn’t know how I was going to get them initially but a friend of mine, the same one that told me about the hot chocolate bombs, told me about a great platform called TikTok, where you can get a bunch of people to see your videos for free and I was like, “Okay, let me try.”

I posted the worst video. I watch that video back today and I’m like, “I don’t even understand why this had any views on it”, and it got 2.5 million views.

And I also posted the video before I launched the website, so I put a link in my bio for people to leave their email for when we launched, and we got 30,000 emails.

So, I started with a huge email marketing list and so I was able to really leverage the power of social media to start my business.

Bex Burn-Callander:

That’s really interesting that you had the email marketing approach because, too often, we hear from small business owners that have tried TikTok and had loads of views, but they haven’t been able to convert any of that into actual sales.

So, people enjoy the video, but they don’t go and buy.

But it seems like, because you are able to reach out to them separately, that’s how you do the conversion.

Kiana Gomes:

I would say, the fact that we used the email page to start the business was really smart because I think, if we hadn’t done that, and if we hadn’t gotten people excited about the product launch, then we would’ve have got tons of views, and we wouldn’t have made any sales from it.

But now, today, actually talking with you, I’m realising I should maybe find a way to incorporate email back into my videos. But yeah, it’s hard to see how your views actually convert into sales.

You don’t have to be great at math to start a business—get a bookkeeper

Bex Burn-Callander:

And then, obviously, you are a really gifted inventor, you came up with these cool recipes on your kitchen table, you made them work but that’s a very different skill set to the skill set that’s involved when you’re building a business.

So, understanding things like cash flow and doing your accounts and submitting and worrying about various taxes and so forth.

So, how did you learn that stuff and do you feel like you’re naturally good with numbers or that you’ve been able to create that muscle over time?

Kiana Gomes:

To be honest with you, I really suck at math.

It’s definitely not my strength at all and numbers cause me an insane amount of anxiety.

But as a business owner, I can’t just completely ignore numbers, we need to make sure that our cash flow is positive and we’re not overspending.

So, I’m able to look into our accounts, see what’s going on and have a general picture and make decisions based on what I see generally, but we have a bookkeeper, she’s really great and she’s able to do profit and loss reports for us every month.

So, she’s able to give me the big picture and then, from there, I analyse and make the decisions based on the numbers she does.

Make sure you have the correct paperwork to ship your products

Bex Burn-Callander:

Okay, amazing. And how big is the business now?

So, are we talking international sales? Are we talking month-on-month, year-on-year growth? Tell me where you are at in of the success so far.

Kiana Gomes:

So, to be honest, because it’s a food product, it’s actually a lot harder than you would think to expand.

At the beginning, I wanted to do worldwide shipping and that was a mistake because, a lot of countries, if you don’t have the proper paperwork to ship food, they’re just going to ship it back or dispose of the parcel.

So we actually lost quite a bit of money because of that. That was me not doing my research and just jumping right into it like a lot of business owners do.

So, right now, most of our sales are in Canada and we’re getting into the US. We’re fully certified for the US, we have all of our paperwork, we’re able to ship things, everything is able to clear customs properly but, right now, it’s really just Canada and US.

Bex Burn-Callander:

But that’s a really big market. If you become a household name in the US and Canada, that’s an enormously successful business right there.

Kiana Gomes:

So, eventually, I would like to ship our stuff to Europe because, especially the UK, we have a lot of people asking for our products over there, but right now it’s just Canada and US.

And we haven’t really penetrated the US market the way I would’ve liked to right now so we’re still expanding into the US.

Building your own manufacturing facilities

Bex Burn-Callander:

Well, on that subject, it costs quite a lot of money to expand because you’ve got to do marketing, you’ve got to have salespeople.

So, how have you, this is a leading question because I know you were on Dragons’ Den, how did you finance the growth of your startup and how was that experience for you?

Kiana Gomes:

So, we actually never put any money into the company, and we didn’t end up taking the deal from the dragons. So, they offered to us, and we didn’t take it.

Yeah, so a little bit of a plot twist.

It’s been good because we’ve been able to reinvest all of our profits back into the business and still remain profitable, but we pretty much just go with the flow in terms of spending.

But now, since we’re trying to enter the US, we are spending a bit more than we have in previous years on marketing and sales and stuff like that, so this is the year where it’s going to either boom or not work, but I am pretty sure it’s going to expand.

And also, on another note, before, in terms of production, because we still produce everything in house, we didn’t really have the production capabilities or the facility to actually even be able to sell for the numbers we would’ve wanted to and now, just this year, we have everything in place to support a huge growth.

Bex Burn-Callander:

Does that mean you’ve got your own manufacturing facilities now or do you mean that you found a good contract manufacturer that you can rely on to create the products?

Kiana Gomes:

So, we have all of our own manufacturing facilities. I try to reach out to a lot of manufacturers because it’s not a simple product to manufacture.

Like let’s say somebody’s making cookies, all of these manufacturers are set up to make cookies, but this is such a new product, and they don’t know. No one really wants to get into it, so I had to learn about food manufacturing and set up our own facility here.

Actually, we were able to purchase a building with the profits from the company and that’s where we do everything. So, we have our offices upstairs and downstairs is the production.

Bex Burn-Callander:

That’s amazing and you’re so humble about all this.

You’re like, “Oh, yeah, we just managed to get our own manufacturing facility,” but that’s enormous that you own this building and you’re making everything yourself and you’re not reliant on anyone else in the supply chain to create the bombs for you, that means you are in control of your own destiny.

Kiana Gomes:

Yeah, exactly and that’s actually really, really good. I am really grateful that we’re able to produce everything here.

If you’re thinking about applying for Dragons’ Den, just do it

Bex Burn-Callander:

So, back to the dragons.

So, that was interesting because I know that something like a third of the entrepreneurs who accept funding on Dragons’ Den, they don’t end up actually doing the deal.

It cuts to the term sheet stage and things get complicated and it doesn’t happen.

But do you still think that it was a really positive experience just for the publicity and what else did you get out of it?

Kiana Gomes:

Well, first of all, the publicity that you get after being on Dragons’ Den is absolutely incredible.

So, to anyone that’s thinking of doing it and is like, “Oh, I don’t know if I want to give up a share of my company,” literally just do it.

Go on the show and then, after, decide if you want to give up a share of your company, it’s okay not to, people can change their mind or whatever.

And also, being on the show as an entrepreneur, it was a really good learning experience to be able to go in front of leading experts in business, present my ideas, present my product and actually have them like it and give me positive feedback about everything, it was very, very valorising.

I felt really good about it, good about myself, it was a real confidence boost experience you could say.

Bex Burn-Callander:

And when you say the publicity was great, can you tell me a bit about how that manifested? Was it just loads of hits to the website or did you see a big uplift in sales? What was the impact, the material impact?

Kiana Gomes:

So, definitely, the day that it airs and a bit after, I would say for a good two weeks after, because they also play previews of it on TV, there’s a huge boost in sales.

Also, we do a lot of wholesale so there was a huge boost in wholesale accounts, just people that saw us on Dragons’ Den.

And I feel like it also really helps build trust with an audience, especially with us, where we’re not selling something basic, I don’t know, like a cookie or whatever.

People have to be like, “Okay, why would I want to buy a cocktail bomb? What’s the point?”

So, to have the dragons who people trust say, “I love this product, this is great,” people want to buy it because of that, it really gives us a good boost in trust.

And I also feel like the whole Dragons’ Den thing really puts me as a leader in my industry.

So, even if somebody decides to start their own business or copy the product, whatever, I’m considered the first to market because we were on Dragons’ Den and people saw it there first.

Bex Burn-Callander:

It’s like the alternative patent, basically.

If you can’t afford a patent, go on Dragons’ Den and show everyone that you are the inventor of this thing because then the millions will know.

Kiana Gomes:

Yeah exactly! So it was great, definitely. And also, people love to watch that too. Even to just repost the videos, people love a good Dragons’ Den or Shark Tank episode.

Confidence is all about faking it ‘til you make it

Bex Burn-Callander:

But tell me a bit about confidence because it takes a lot of confidence as an entrepreneur to pitch just in a room with one other person, let alone when you know that your pitch is going to be aired on national television.

So, are you a very confident person? Has that been something that has evolved over time? How did you pep yourself up for that recording? Tell me about your confidence and where it comes from.

Kiana Gomes:

So, when I signed up for the show, I didn’t think that they were going to take me, I was like, “I’m just going to sign up for fun and we’ll see what happens,” I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

And finally they ended up taking me and I was so nervous, you have no idea.

So, I rehearsed that pitch for a month before. I rehearsed all my answers, I learned everything that they could ask in and out, I watched all the episodes, I was like, “Okay,” I was writing down the questions like, “Okay, they might ask this, they might ask that.”

And you’re in there for an hour too, so you don’t know what they could ask you, they’re going to ask you everything and anything about your business.

But to be honest, right before I was about to enter, when you do the walk, I was crying backstage because I was so nervous and all of the production team were like, “Go, go, you can do it. You’re going to be so good,” and I was like, “No, I can’t do it.”

But finally, I went in, and I don’t know where my confidence came from, but it just overtook me, and I just did my pitch, and it went super well.

But my biggest fear going on the show was that we have a food-based product.

So, even though a lot of people like it, sometimes you see food-based products on Dragons’ Den and they’re like, “Ugh, this is not good,” and then it’s like, “Huh, what do I do?”

Even though your numbers are good, your feedback is good, if the dragons don’t like it, what can you say?

But finally they were all like, “It tastes great, this is amazing,” so I was really lucky for that.

But other than the fact that I look super confident on the show and everything, I would say, in general, I’m not really a confident person.

I am often very stressed and anxious about my ideas and whether or not they’re good and what people are going to think.

So, I’m a lot in my head even though, on the outside, it shows that I’m confident and all.

Bex Burn-Callander:

That is so interesting because I’ve watched you, I’ve watched that episode of Dragons’ Den and my takeaway was that you were super confident, super calm, very poised, eloquent, butter wouldn’t melt and it was like, “Wow, that’s so impressive because she’s a young woman and this is a really terrifying thing.”

And even me in my dotage, I would find that very frightening.

So, that’s interesting that you feel like you’re masking a lot of what’s going on behind.

Kiana Gomes:

Yeah, I don’t like to show as much how stressed I am about everything even though I think it’s good to show it now because people actually like to see the real you.

But yeah, I feel like I go through a lot of emotional cycles where I’m stressed and everything and then, when it’s time to do the show and time to get into it, then I’ll get a boost of confidence in myself.

So, it’s weird how things work but, yeah.

Learn to reflect on your successes

Bex Burn-Callander:

Do you reflect on successes though? Do you celebrate when you have a record month or record quarter?

Do you take the time to almost pat yourself on the back a bit and say, “Hey, I did this,” or is that just not part of your routine?

Kiana Gomes:

So, it should be because I think it’s good to reward yourself and think about your successes, but I think I’m the type of person that I always want to push further.

So I don’t really take time to reflect on what I’ve done good, I’m more focused on how can I do better.

And I think that that’s not necessarily a good thing because it just causes more stress and more pressure on myself and I always feel like I’m not really good enough, or wondering why we aren’t we growing faster, or thinking today was not a good day etc.

I am the type of person too, let’s say we have a bad day in sales, I’ll be like, “Oh, my God, today was the worst day ever. This business is done, this is the end of my life.”

That’s how I am.

I’m like, “Okay, it’s finished, we’re done. Cocktail Bomb Shop is over today.”

And then I’ll look at the month and I’ll be like, “Oh, well actually we had a crazy wholesale month, oh, we’re actually doing good, we’re positive.”

Most businesses are not even positive cash flow and then I think maybe I shouldn’t focus on the little things and look at the bigger picture.

Bex Burn-Callander:

I think that’s great advice for anyone listening because I think, sometimes, it’s a double-edged sword, isn’t it? That single-minded focus, determination, focus on the negative, that actually can help you go really far because you do keep trying to excel, trying to push beyond the original goal or try and push yourself.

But then, yeah, then you have the flip side which is that it’s a stressful and anxiety ridden way to live so it’s the two sides that you’ve got to live in balance with.

But it’s great advice that you should try not to focus too much on the negative and try and look at the bigger picture sometimes rather than getting swallowed by something bad that’s happened in that day or that week.

Don’t underestimate the power of your role models

Bex Burn-Callander:

And talking to you and looking at all you’ve achieved in your career, it’s really clear that you are super driven and the fact that you were just like, “Yeah, cool. I’m going to give this a go.”

Tell me about how you became this kind of person, where your drive came from.

So, what’s your background like? Do you have entrepreneurs in your family? Do you feel like you’ve had role models that have pushed you in this way?

Tell me how you’ve become this very, very driven person.

Kiana Gomes:

So, almost everybody in my family is an entrepreneur.

So, it started with my grandfather, he started selling cookware sets, like pots and pans, from door to door in Ottawa in the 1940s or ’50s, something like that.

And finally he ended up opening a kitchen store in Ottawa and it was super successful, and he passed it on to my mum.

So, my mum took over when he was older, and I grew up in my mum’s store. So, I would help her sell stuff, I would help her place merchandise, she would show me the new products.

So, I always was really interested in business and all that. And my stepfather, who is like my dad, he is a sales rep, so he represents a bunch of different companies for wholesalers, and he has his own sales agency.

So, I would go with him on the road to go visit his customers and he would show me what he was doing, he would show me the catalogue.

So, I was always looking at new products, new things, he would receive samples, I would think it was the coolest thing and I would always, in the back of my mind, think like, “Oh, it would be really cool if I could have a business, sell something,” but I never really knew what.

So, it just came naturally after that, but I think being around entrepreneurs, especially in my early childhood, was really beneficial to me being an entrepreneur today because I think I didn’t really know any different.

Bex Burn-Callander:

That makes total sense. Because once you see someone doing it, you’re like, “Well, of course I could do that.” I think sometimes we underestimate the power of role models.

And so, I imagine, is your family super proud of all you’ve achieved because it must be just amazing watching you build this huge and successful business.

Kiana Gomes:

Yeah, they’re definitely really, really proud. My mum and my dad actually sell the bombs today at different events.

So, they’ll do shows, and stuff and they’ll set up a booth and everything and they just have a lot of fun. They love talking about the story and selling the products.

Are consumers ready for sustainability?

Bex Burn-Callander:

And talk to me about sustainability because I read that you have, I think it’s biodegradable, recyclable wraps and packaging.

Tell me about that journey. Was it tricky to do, number 1, and 2, why was that important to you?

Kiana Gomes:

So, when I first started the company, I said I want to try and make it as eco-friendly as possible because I felt like why would you start a business and not make it eco-friendly, it didn’t make sense in my head.

So, I knew I needed to wrap the products for hygiene reasons, so I had to find a wrap that was biodegradable or recyclable and I was able to source a biodegradable shrink wrap, so I was super happy about that.

And I was also like, “Well, I’m just going to put them in a cardboard box and plus the cardboard that I’m going to use is going to be good for shipping, so they’ll be safe during transport.”

It was pretty easy for me to get all of these sustainable things.

But, if you want to know something that’s really sad, the second I started doing shows and stuff in the US, the main thing that people said to me was, “Why are they in a cardboard box, you should be able to see the product.”

Bex Burn-Callander:


Kiana Gomes:

Yeah. So, I have this theory that, as much as businesses are ready for sustainability, because let’s say my cardboard box, it’s actually cheaper than a plastic box in terms of cost.

So, I think businesses are ready for a sustainable change, but I think a lot of the consumers are just not there yet.

Bex Burn-Callander:

They want to be wowed by what’s inside.

Kiana Gomes:

Yeah. I think a consumer thinks that it takes away from their experience to have it in a cardboard box, they’re like, “Well, the box looks cheap.”

But even though it’s printed on, it is as nice as it can be, its still, “Why is it not plastic, you should be able to see through, these things should be transparent.”

So, yeah, that’s my theory on sustainability.

Bex Burn-Callander:

So, what was your reaction when customers were saying we want to see the product?

Were you tempted to get a box with a window or were you like, “No, I’m going to stick to my guns, the market will catch up eventually”?

Kiana Gomes:

So, what happened is, I was able to source a recyclable box.

So, I have a box with a window, it’s only for wholesale because I ordered a small quantity because I wanted to see if that was really the issue.

So, basically, it’s really funny, but my stores in Canada, they want nothing to do with the box with the window and, our stores in the US, they prefer the box with the window.

So, I don’t know if it’s the markets but, yeah.

At least it’s recyclable but eventually I’m hoping that we can be 100% percent cardboard.

Finding biodegradable and recyclable packaging

Bex Burn-Callander:

And that was interesting that you just found a biodegradable shrink wrap really easily.

Did you just go on Google or something? What do people do when you’re trying to find packaging? Do you have to go to a supplier and ask what they have or what’s the route to finding the right thing?

Kiana Gomes:

So, it’s not really that easy to find a biodegradable shrink wrap, honestly, I had to do a lot of research because most of the shrink wraps are actually not even recyclable.

If you put them in the recycling, it scraps the whole recycling bin.

So, I just did a big Google search, I started contacting people, emailing, calling.

And also at that point too, no one knew who I was, so I was like, “Hi, I want to buy some shrink wrap,” and they’re like, “Okay, no.”

So, I got turned down a lot, but finally I was able to find a company and they sold to me and actually we still use their shrink wrap today, so it’s good for them to have sold to me in the beginning.

Sometimes hearing no is the best thing that could happen for your business

Bex Burn-Callander:

And when you talk about coming back from hearing the word no, that’s what we’ve heard, we hear a lot from entrepreneurs that you have to get used to being turned down flat.

You have to get used to people saying that idea is not going to work, no we’re not going to sell your product, no we’re not going to supply you, that takes a lot of resilience.

So, talk to me about resilience. How have you become such a resilient person?

Kiana Gomes:

So, before, when people would tell me no, I would get really upset and I would just cry, because that’s how I am.

But now, when someone tells me no, I have it in my head, I’m like, “Oh, well, you’re going to see one day.”

So, I feel like now I turn my sadness into motivation when hearing the word no and I’m like, “Well, they’re going to want the product eventually or they’re going to want to sell to me eventually,” because I’ve actually seen it.

There were suppliers when I started that didn’t want to sell to me, they were like, “Well, we don’t do that type of volume.” Actually … I don’t know if we have time but maybe this is a really funny story.

Bex Burn-Callander:

Yeah, we’ve got time. Tell me,

Kiana Gomes:

Do you know Staples?

Bex Burn-Callander:


Kiana Gomes:

Okay. So, at Staples, they have a printing centre and basically, I didn’t know where to print my stickers and my cards for my boxes when I first started.

So, I go to Staples, and they were charging me a fortune, something like 50 cents for a sticker, ridiculous prices.

And I was like, “Oh, I see that you guys have a business account, I would really love to open a business account,” and the girl she looks at me and she’s like, “You don’t have the type of volume for a business account, this is not serious. We’re not opening you a business account.”

And I was like, “Okay,” and I was hurt.

And then my boyfriend, he was like, “Screw this. We’re going to call a bunch of printing companies.”

And I was sad too, I was like, “No, we have no choice, we have to buy like regular people, no one cares about us.”

And then he calls a bunch of printers and we managed to find one and it dropped our costs like crazy to maybe, at that time, like 20 cents a sticker.

So, now, I don’t even want to go back to Staples because we actually have better suppliers than Staples, it was actually good that they told me no.

But yeah, at that time I was sad but now, I’m like, “Staples, I could have been a really good customer, but you guys refused me.”

Bex Burn-Callander:

Yeah, it’s your loss, Staples.

You heard it here, you’ve almost had Cocktail Bomb Shops business, but you lost out.

Expanding your product range and developing new brands

Bex Burn-Callander:

And then finally, Kiana, I want to hear what’s next. So, have you got new flavours coming through? You’ve got any different products coming through? What is in your plan for the next year, the next 5 years?

Give me a sneak peek at your goals for the future.

Kiana Gomes:

So, right now, the name of the company is Cocktail Bomb Shop, and I really grew the brand with Dragons’ Den and everything.

But one of the problems is the fact that the name of the company is Cocktail Bomb Shop, so people think we just sell cocktail bombs.

So, a mistake that I made in the beginning, I think, was calling the company something that’s maybe too product specific.

So, eventually, well, actually in the near future, I want to start another brand which sells all of the other cocktail products we have.

We have rimmers, we have edible glitter, I want to do cocktail syrups eventually, cocktail glasses, a bunch of different cocktail related things and I’ve already started working on it, it’s going to be called Sucre.

So, that’s my project but we’re going to keep Cocktail Bomb Shop as it is because it’s a brand that people know, they come back to, and we have a lot of repeats.

So, that’s my project for now and, in terms of the bombs themselves, we’re constantly coming up with new flavours, different cocktail ideas, cocktails that don’t exist.

So, that’s pretty much my plan.

I want to stay in the cocktail space, but I want to be able to get a larger market of cocktail related products and not just the bombs.

Share the load with your team and learn how to spot problematic employees early

Bex Burn-Callander:

And are you still the innovator? Are you still the one that’s designing these cocktail bombs?

Are you still the Willy Wonka character in your kitchen throwing these things together or do you have a team that does research and development for you?

Kiana Gomes:

Yeah, so now we have a team that actually produces them and finds the ideas but, of course, if I have an idea, I’ll definitely get involved.

If I wanted to create a litchi cocktail bomb for example, I’ll help out and give ideas like, “Okay, we could do this, we could do that, we could do this, maybe let’s do with that flavour.”

But they do a lot more of the research and the actual testing of the products than I do now.

Bex Burn-Callander:

Okay. And I know I said that was my last question but I actually have a couple more, which is how big is your team and how have you found progressing from a solo founder to being a manager and a leader of people?

Kiana Gomes:

So, let me count.

So, we are 5 in production at all times. When it gets super busy, we hire more people to help out.

And upstairs, this is new this year, we actually have professional employees and we’re 5 upstairs, creating content, doing email marketing, paid ads, different things like that.

So, we’re about 10 now.

Bex Burn-Callander:

And the leadership side, how do you find that, managing people?

Kiana Gomes:

Well, right now, all of the people that we have are really, really good, and really, really nice, so there’s definitely no issues managing them.

But we have had employees or people that we brought into our team that were a bit more problematic, and we had to let go of them because it just wasn’t working, and they were bringing everyone down in the team.

So, I think, if somebody comes into our team that doesn’t fit with our vibe or our culture or isn’t working and is making everyone unable to do their job, we’re not going to hesitate to let them go.

Bex Burn-Callander:

That’s really interesting because it can take a long time before leaders realise that there’s an individual that’s poisoning the well slightly.

So, you seem to be very quick to spot those individuals which is really good, which is really healthy for an organisation.

Take action and build your brand

Bex Burn-Callander:

And finally, Kiana, what would be your top tip for anyone who is thinking about starting a business or maybe in the very early stages? What one thing do you wish you’d known when you were getting started that you could share?

Kiana Gomes:

So, I think maybe it would be to just get into it.

I see a lot of people, they’re writing a business plan, they’re trying to plan things, they’re like, “Okay, first I need to get money, whatever, to start my business.”

But I feel like they’re too invested in the plan and not on the action.

So, because they just never take any action, nothing ends up ever happening and I literally see this all the time.

People tell me like, “Oh, I’m going to start a business, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that” they don’t do anything. I don’t think they’re ever going to do anything because they’re too involved in their plan.

But let’s say, even you have this crazy idea that you need a $100,000,000 to start it up, literally just post a video of you talking about the idea, like, “Hey, does anyone want to invest?”.

You never know, you might generate some interest and get someone involved.

But by doing nothing and just planning it in your head, you’re not going to get anywhere.

And also, I mentioned it before, but, when naming your business, maybe try and name it something that is not product specific so you can easily expand.

That’s definitely my mistake.

And I didn’t do any research because I didn’t think my business was going to grow, and I didn’t really do any branding.

Our brand colours, we don’t really have any. Our stuff is not consistent in terms of branding, so I’m trying to do all of that now.

So just come up with a name that’s generic and do your brand colours and your typographies, that’s it. But you can do all of that on Canva for free.

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Want to know more about Kiana Gomes or Cocktail Bomb Shop?

You can find out more about Kiana on her Instagram or LinkedIn.

For more on Cocktail Bomb Shop, check out their website or TikTok.

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