Daisy and Nolen Oayda, Snowy Mountains Cookies

Daisy and Nolen met at Perisher and fell in love with the Snowy Mountains and each other,  they decided to make a life living where they love, making babies and cookies and putting back into the local economy.

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Daisy’s endless winters started when she finished school in Narrabeen, and didn’t know what to do.  “A friend said, ‘why don’t you go and work for a winter at the snow’, and I never really left.”

Nolen was introduced to skiing when he was 12, and that’s all he ever thought about from that point on.  Competing from the age of 14 until he was 26.  That whole period was always back to back winters.  Living in Verbier, Switzerland for seven years with his coach and travelling around the circuits from junior world cup through to Europa cup, to World Cup.  After blowing out his knee a little bit earlier than planned, he took a break and lived in Sydney for a couple of years, selling real estate in Double Bay.

With real estate in Sydney not really working for him, Nolen decided to take a holiday.  He went to Verbier to hang out with his old friends.  “After spending a few weeks there I went back to Sydney, quit my job, moved back to Perisher and regained my life”.  That’s when he started coaching freestyle and then started photographing.  He first started writing and the journo’s were always asking for photos.  Every now and again he’d try to hook up with a photographer but it didn’t always work out, so he started taking photos himself and writing.  He did that for another seven years along with coaching local teams, the Australian Development Team and he was also a personal coach on World Cup.

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After Daisy and Nolen met, they did a bunch of seasons in Canada together, they then started spending more and more time in Jindabyne in summer, doing work trips lasting a month or a few weeks.

When Nolen trashed his other knee, he had to give up photography.  He couldn’t ski for two years and since his work was mostly mountain bike and skiing photography he could no longer make money out of that profession.

Getting into event management, they started the All Terrain Mountain Bike Challenge which was the first event of its kind in the world.  Red Bull was a sponsor in the first year, along with three other big sponsors.  Red Bull ended up buying the rights to that event and ran it for another two years with Nolen and Daisy as the event managers.  They also ran then the Red Bull Rails for two years, a skiing and snowboarding event using the ramp right in the middle of the Nuggets Crossing car park in Jindabyne.  “We’d truck snow in and we had 2,000 people in that car park, in the middle of winter school holidays , it was nuts, insane” Nolen tells me.

After that they opened up a hair salon.  They employed a hair dresser and ran the business for four years.  Nolen also started working for Lake Crackenback as a consultant doing projects.  He started the Kosi alpine guided walks and other projects with Bruce which he really enjoyed over a span of five years.  During the last two, they started the cookie factory which they’ve been doing now for nine years.

After having their first child, they wanted to do something in the area that they love, a business that didn’t rely on winter tourism or local trade, but still uses the Snowy Mountains brand, Daisy came up with the idea of cookies.

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It’s never easy having a small business and they’ve had their fair share of ups and downs.  “The big thing is that we get to live where we love.  We love living here, we want to bring up our kids here, we’re really proud calling the cookies Snowy Mountains Cookies.  We wanted to live here and we figured out a way to do that, not relying on the local economy, and being able to put back into the local economy employing 25 people” Nolan tells me.

Specialising in cookies for airlines, whose menu’s change every three to six months, the work is contract based, so it’s casual work for some of their staff, but it’s not seasonal.  Contracts come and go every three to six months.  “There’s no way, you can’t tell what the future is going to be, you just roll with the punches basically,” says Nolen.  Qantas is their biggest client, but they are on six other airlines as well.

Airlines are not who they thought they’d be supplying to when they stared, but in the first six months they got on Brindabella airlines, quickly followed by Rex.  “It kept going that way and we just kept chasing it.  It actually works well for us.  Once you can send big things out it definitely works in your favour.”  They can make anywhere between 15 to 30,000 cookies a day, depending on the type of cookie.

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Daisy does the accounts, and drawing from his real estate day’s Nolen does the sales.  “It is tricky though, we used to both be in the same office, then you go home, and you live together and your work together and you do everything together.  Even though we’re in the business together it’s very separate, we see each other for a cup of tea or something.  We have always had very separate rolls” Daisy tells me.

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It’s totally a team effort and they have a really good team of key staff who have been here for a long time and do an awesome job.

Recently they have teamed up with local aboriginal dot artist based in Berridale, Pauline Syron-Coxon.  Her artwork depicting the Snowy Mountains has been used on their new packaging, being distributed on Qantas from March this year.

Next time you’re in Jindabyne be sure to check out the Snowy Mountains Cookie factory outlet in Leesville Estate, for tasty samples and seconds.

www.snowycookies.com.au

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