I’ve been following Diem Fuggersberger, (co-founder of Berger ingredients and Coco & Lucas Kitchen) on LinkedIn for the last two years.
When I launched The Newcomer, I knew I had to interview her.
I contacted her recently and she graciously gave me half an hour of her time. She’s not only an inspiring businesswoman having built a successful business from scratch but also a lovely woman.
You might have read her heart-wrenching story in various media.
Diem and her family escaped from Vietnam at the end of the Vietnam War and came to Australia on a boat with 500 other refugees. They almost starved due to lack of food and were robbed by pirates on the way.
They eventually made it to safety and lived on an Indonesian island for 18 months.
They arrived in Australia wearing the clothes they had, plus a few other pieces of clothing and not knowing a word of English.
Today Diem runs a multi-million dollar business with her husband Werner Fuggersberger.
She spoke to The Newcomer about her business, Coco & Lucas Kitchen, her goals and dreams.
Q. Did you ever think that Coco & Lucas would do so well?
To be honest, I didn’t think that it was going to be that big, never having worked in marketing or in an FMCG company.
I had to learn how to market my personal and company brand through social media.
But if you’d asked me this question two years ago, I would have said no. I never thought it would do so well.
Q. What do you think are one or two of the biggest things you’ve learned since you started Coco & Lucas?
The main learning for me was how to use and engage with social media. I didn’t understand that social media can impact a brand so much.
If you can build it really well in terms of a personal brand, which is myself, then people will trust it. Then comes the logo brand identity and product brands as a whole.
I’ve learned so much about social media and also about packaging shelf ready trays to freight to costing. It really made me grow.
The next time I launch a new product; I’ve made all the mistakes and can do much better second time around.
I’ve learned how to put myself in a client’s position, and be in a good relationship with my client which is my first C. The second C for me is the consumer. Although the consumer buys my products and they don’t pay me directly – I still have to engage with them all times.
So if they’re writing on my Facebook page to give me feedback, whether it’s constructive or bad, I still have to take it in my stride, be professional, reply and engage with them.
My third C is the community because they are the people who are supporting my brand. I’m always engaged with the community to get their feedback, loyalty and their interactions.
It was like giving birth to a child. I just think you can never stop learning.
Q. Tell me any three things about you no one knows apart from family
I’m traditionally very spiritual. I pray a lot and value my faith. It’s something very close to my heart. I have strong values and integrity.
I do a lot of charity work sometimes anonymously that people don’t know about. I mentor, young girls through Global Sisters. I also took part in a fundraiser to help Parramatta Council feed 500 homeless people for Christmas in the last 10 years. This year, I went to Vietnam to my hometown Bac Lieu to donate to 70 orphanages.
The third thing is, it sounds weird, but if I wasn’t working in food, then I’d love to work as a private investigator
Q. What else do you want to achieve?
Coco & Lucas is actually quite new and so it’s known in Australia only. It’s currently stocked in Woolworths and my goal is to be in all major supermarkets.
I need to gain mums’ and dads’ trust and my big goal is feed children healthy meals in schools one day. I’m working towards championing children’s health and wellbeing in food, for Junior Foodies.
Q. Your main tip for other migrants in Australia
Even if you hit rock bottom, you should never give up.
If you have faith in yourself, you can achieve your dreams. I’m not saying at all it’s easy. It’s very hard. I think people are afraid when they fail to ask for help.
I think it’s okay to ask for help to save yourself, but don’t forget to give back when you are standing on your two feet.
I’m very proud of my immigrant heritage, and I’m very traditional at home, we live in Australia so we have to also respect the land and its laws we live in.
I want to inspire others to do well and to give back to the country they live in. For me, Australia is my chosen home.
It’s given me a second chance in life. I want to be a good citizen and I want to give back to the community.
I think immigrants are just too afraid to ask for help or share their failures. We should just be brave, because when you ask for help, it doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means you’re strong.
You need to help yourself in order to stand up, and then when you can stand up you can help others as well. For example, I openly share my wealth of knowledge.
Coco & Lucas Kitchen meals are stocked in Woolworths.
Images credit: Coco & Lucas Facebook