Tanya-Lee Holmes created IPSC as a coping mechanism when she acquired a disability at 39. But it’s more than just cookies. Tanya-Lee & IPSC advocates for Disability, Mental Health & ADF, & even though her cookies may not look like they come off a manufacturing line, to Tanya-Lee & her followers, they’re imperfectly perfect.
Tell us about Imperfectly Perfect Sugar Cookies.
IPSC is a unique collaboration of Delicious sugar cookies and Disability, Mental Health and ADF advocacy. What started as a simple cookie business to fill a voice whilst coming to terms with my disability has become a safe space for discussing Disability and Mental Health. IPSC is a business built on purpose, not profit.
What inspired you to start Ipsc?
IPSC was created as a coping mechanism whilst I came to terms with acquiring a disability at 39 and all that it entailed. I couldn’t find employment as employers viewed me as a risk due to paralysis and the need to use mobility aides. I was lost and processing what the future held for me. I live with anxiety and PTSD and have always used baking as a tool to calm the noise in my head and to help avoid panic attacks, so I just started baking! I figured doing this would allow me to work out what was next. What I didn’t count on was people loving my cookies, and the business grew from there to what it is today.
What is unique about Ipsc?
Have you tried them? They are delicious, lol, but on the serious side, I cater for all dietary needs: gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, vegan, you name it! I deal with allergies, so making a product everyone could enjoy was essential. Our cookies don’t come “look” like they have come off a manufacturing line. They have imperfections just like us. Have you tried rolling dough with a hand that’s paralysed? It is not easy! But those imperfections in our cookies are one of the things our customers love most. They’re imperfectly perfect.
I know all too well the rejections of being unable to find employment and getting knocked back jobs because of my disability. IPSC has provided me with a platform to show other businesses the advantages of having someone in the workplace with a disability. I advocate for inclusion by working with other people with disabilities and disabled-owned and run businesses.
I have been able to help others in ways I never would have thought possible in the mental health and suicide space and have experienced things I would never have imagined. I am grateful for every single opportunity.
What challenges did you overcome in your journey?
My biggest challenge was me! The self-doubt, self-talk, anxiety and second-guessing myself! I had no idea what I was doing, and I still don’t feel I do. Like everyone, I’m always learning and making mistakes along the way. For me, there is the constant worry of ‘what if’. What if my body decides to give out? What if my health gets worse? What if my customers don’t like what I am doing in 6 months? What if I fail? I imagine many small business owners would ask themselves these very same questions.
How do you build a thriving customer base?
For me, building a successful customer base has been about honesty and transparency. Sharing my story, not just the good days but the bad ones. I’ve been very transparent about everything that comes with my health, allowing me to show people I am a person, just like them, but with a few challenges. This has meant if I’ve been sick and had to cancel orders, my customers aren’t blindsided; honestly, they are super supportive and return over and over again.
For small businesses, especially in a regional setting, it’s a beautiful feeling to have that unwavering support. Customers have offered to do deliveries and help with baking, but that doesn’t happen everywhere. Being transparent can draw customers in and make you more relatable. A big thing to remember, something my gran told me, is not everyone will like you, and that’s ok. Make your business about quality over quantity.
What’s on the horizon for IPSC?
The future for me means stepping out of our comfort zone! We are in the process of setting up our website and currently branching out into retail spaces and cafes. We have a new project called the ‘ImperfectlyPerfect Project’, which will provide customer-funded RAOK packages to members of our community needing a pick me up or rewarding them for a selfless act in their community.
This year's most significant thing for us is pushing our boundaries and advocating for disability, mental health and ADF communities. I am also working on a book culminating in baking and stories.
Location: BATHURST, NSW
Facebook: Imperfectly Perfect Sugar Cookies