When you’re young, your dreams are boundless. You imagine being an astronaut, a super scientist, a lion tamer. Deanna Yang’s childhood dream was simpler but no less lofty. At the age of eight she decided she wanted to own a milk and cookie bar, so as to provide people with that incomparable comfort: a still-warm, gooey-in-the-middle cookie.
Fast-forward thirteen years to a brisk September morning, and Deanna is opening the doors to Moustache Milk & Cookie Bar for the very first time. It’s 2012, Deanna is twenty-one, and she’s passed in her journalism studies for a baker’s life. If there’s one thing you should know about Deanna, it’s this: she’s 110 percent team cookie. So much so that she’s been working three jobs just to raise the capital to open this place, and even then almost didn’t manage it. ‘Everybody was telling me I’d fail [and] the project took twice as long and cost three times as much as I had budgeted. We were so much in the red that I thought I’d have to close the shop before we even opened our doors! . . . When so many people are saying your idea is stupid you start to wonder, “Am I being stupid?” But I’ve learned that you have to believe in yourself, until one day everybody else has no choice but to believe in you too.’
It’s hard to imagine how, in the face of such conviction, anyone could have ever doubted Moustache’s potential, but then you remind yourself exactly what it was that Deanna was proposing: making a living out of milk and cookies. Banks wouldn’t touch her ‘with a ten-foot gherkin’, real estate agents refused to show her spaces, and one agent in particular laughed outright at the idea of a milk and cookie bar, telling Deanna she needed to sell sandwiches and pies as well ‘otherwise you won’t last the year’. Even her family encouraged her to take the jobs she was offered after uni.
The truth is, though, that the world would be a much better place if more people cared as much about cookies – and, specifically, the joy they bring to people’s lives – as Deanna does. ‘The businessman in the suit and tie [who tells] me that [his cookie] takes him back to his childhood, or the little kid who comes in every weekend exclaiming to his mum that this is his favourite place in the entire world – those everyday wins are what inspire us,’ she says.
When you chase a dream, there’s no set path to follow; you carve one as you go, and the bumps and traps aren’t always apparent till you trip on them. Last year, Deanna found out her rent was being hiked by forty percent – an amount that was impossible for her small business to absorb. So she went and found an old-school 1978 Bedford bus, and in four weeks had managed to crowdfund $90,000 towards creating the Moustache Milk & Cookie Bus.
The bus, which was unveiled a few months ago, is fully fitted out with a commercial kitchen, and will embark on a country-wide tour very soon. (Dates and locations will be on Moustache’s Facebook page.) ‘[It’ll be] just like the original Moustache store,’ Deanna explains. ‘The bus is an embodiment of me and the Moustache spirit – that when the going gets tough you just have to be creative and keep your wheels moving.’
It’s an understatement to say that Deanna’s tenacity is impressive. So just what is it that spurs her on? ‘Life is short,’ she says. ‘Everyday above ground is a blessing, not a right. Life is so precious that you can’t afford to waste time. It’s important that today, right now, you are working hard, playing hard and chasing those dreams.’
This content originally appeared in The Seasonal #02 SUMMER 2015.