Walking through a shopping centre in 2015, Kaisser Khater, now 30, noticed a trend. “Everywhere I turned, I saw coconuts – I had a gut feeling this trend might have longevity.” Seizing on the trend, Kaisser and his sisters, Rose, 32 and Samantha, 28 - all three Western Sydney University Business and Commerce graduates - promptly set up a coconut water stall at a market in Parramatta.
On a whim, the trio tried decorating their coconuts with fruit and dessert toppings.
“It blew up,” Kaisser says. “We went from selling 13 coconuts the first week to selling 300.” Kayter Co now sells more than 3,000 lavishly adorned coconuts weekly at various events, and have provided custom branded coconuts and dessert bars for high profile clients including the Kardashians, Disney, Seafolly, Topshop and Sephora.
A spin-off venture – Dessert Boxes – offers Nutella, cronut and macaron-laden gift boxes to rival traditional gift deliveries. Hundreds of orders are received each week and in 2017 the trio launched venture Sweet Fry, selling fried chocolate bars at markets and festivals.
Kaisser says the aim is to create something unique and shareable.
Without spending a cent on marketing, the trio’s drool worthy works of art consistently spark social media frenzies. “We post pictures of our desserts on Instagram and they’re regrammed by almost every food blogger in the country,” Kaisser says. “We have more than 80,000 followers and have been picked up by over 50 media outlets globally.”
Kaisser credits their Business and Commerce degrees for much of their success. “Western opened our minds and helped us secure our first jobs, which gave us the confidence to try something on our own,” he says. Usefully, each sibling studied a different major: “Sam’s focus is marketing and she’s a born creative,” Kaisser says. “Rose is very black-and-white and controls the finances. I piece together new ideas and operations. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”
Their success prompted Rose, Kaisser and Samantha to establish a team of employees and drivers, a commercial kitchen and office just a few months after beginning in their family kitchen.
“It was crazy,” Kaisser says of their early days in business. “We were waking up at 4am, arranging the coconuts, cronuts and donuts and doing deliveries. We learnt quickly that we needed to step back and employ people to work in the business, so that we could work on it.”
Growing the business also meant quitting their successful corporate jobs – something their parents, both Lebanese migrants, struggled to accept. “Initially they couldn’t grasp why we’d leave our jobs to sell coconuts and sit at home doing things on the computer.” Any doubts dissipated quickly as plans to expand Kayter Co to nationally materialised. Ticking away in the background is the trio’s first business – Ougies – an online shop for gratitude journals which has been an international hit, with close to 100 sold every week to mostly international buyers.
“It’s a 24/7 job,” Kaisser says. “We’re always playing with new ideas.”