Melbourne small-business owner Kirsten Tibballs is the founder of Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School in Brunswick, Melbourne. Renowned as one of the world's best pastry chefs and chocolatiers, Kirsten has judged the planet Chocolate Masters in Paris, the Patisserie Grand Prix in Japan and also the World Chocolate Masters selections in London, as well as representing Australia on the planet Pastry Team Championships in Las Vegas.
People would travel from around the world to understand from Kirsten in her state-of-the-art facilities at her school. Since the COVID-19 lockdown was imposed, however, Kirsten has been reaching out to her fans in their own individual homes through her Savour Online Classes. And alongside professionals looking to upskill, a new cohort of avid home cooks and bakers that the pandemic has spawned are attentiveness.
Established online presence makes pivoting easier
“We have been operating for 18 years, and originally all of our classes were hands-on and taught in person,” Kirsten says. “Over the last seven years, however, we began offering Savour Classes on the web in order to reach a wider audience both within Australia and globally to focus on students who were unable to travel to learn at the school itself.”
With hands-on classes not able to continue due to COVID-19 restrictions, Kirsten came to rely on those online classes. “I was also lucky enough to have been filming content pre-COVID-19, so those in your own home were able to access over 350 instructional videos in our library and continue to learn during this time,” she explains.
“Kirsten believes the pandemic will lead to a fundamental shift in the training and learning industry.”
Having been focusing on a new website in the Twelve months leading up to COVID-19 and launching it at the end of March, Kirsten was able to focus her resources on her online classes, catering to the spike in curiosity about cooking and baking at home.
A fundamental shift
Kirsten believes the
pandemic will lead to a fundamental shift in the training and learning
industry, with technology playing a key role in that new working environment.
“A lot of businesses during COVID-19 moved to an online platform and I believe many will still operate online into the future,” she explains. “At Savour we've always embraced new technology and have been one of the leaders within our field; however, we never imagined just how much we would rely on our online arm pre-COVID-19.”
Kirsten is adamant that they will continue to utilise technology irrespective of to the extent life returns to how it was before the pandemic. She's looking to introduce an app to complement the online class platform. “Individuals are embracing the benefits of online learning with reduced costs, you don't need to travel and ongoing support while they're subscribed,” she says.
Nevertheless, Kirsten anticipates a time when she can supplement her online offering with welcoming people back to her Brunswick premises.
This story first appeared in issue 31 of the Inside Small Business