Celebrating the “limitless potential of people living with disability”
Brett Duncan’s journey into business ownership is a tale of perseverance and talent.
Brett was born profoundly deaf.
In 1989, at the age of two, Brett was the 100th patient and the youngest person to ever receive the cochlear implant.
At age five, he started primary school with only two words in his vocabulary – “no” and “Mum”.
To say that life hasn’t been easy for Brett would be an understatement.
At age 16, he began work experience at Bakers Delight, which quickly turned into paid work.
Over the years he gained the skills and accreditation as a qualified baker, but the toll of early mornings and a poor work-life balance was too great.
“I lost my passion,” he said. “But luckily, I was able to find work at Crown Melbourne as a steward in the kitchens.”
“While I was there, I was working in the pastry kitchen. I watched the chefs creating these desserts and pastries. From then onwards, I decided that is what I want to become.”
In 2021, Brett became a qualified pastry chef setting him on the trajectory to launch GingerSnap in partnership with co-founder, social enterprise CEO and sister, Jess Colgan.
Based out of West Melbourne’s West End, GingerSnap is a social enterprise celebrating the limitless potential of people with disability, by providing employment pathways, economic empowerment, and a safe and inclusive workplace through the creation of plant-based desserts and pastries.
“It was started as a side business working out of Mum’s kitchen,” Jess said. “Then this west end opportunity was sent to me, and I put in an expression of interest. The team were super keen on us and what we do, and here we are.”
We are using food and the joy of desserts to break down the stigma of people living with disability and what they can achieve. We want to elevate people with disabilities into leadership positions and creating employment for people with disability.
“Our products speak for themselves. You can buy from us just if you think our product is excellent, or you can buy from us if you are interested in supporting the mission we want to fulfill.”
GingerSnap operates predominantly direct to consumers and wholesalers like cafes and catering businesses through their website.
You can find three ranges of desserts on offer, from their bespoke high-tea range that includes a salted caramel and chocolate mousse tart, a mousse swirl gained by using the spin from the top of their dad’s record player, to their tart and bakery ranges.
“It’s very exciting to start cooking and working in this space,” Brett said. “I was a bit apprehensive at first because I don’t know much about the whole business side of things, but Jess said I can focus on the products and she will focus on the business aspects like accounting, and I thought, why not.”
“I always think that I can’t do things because of my deafness, but I have started to feel more confident in this business.” •
For more information: gingersnap.com.au
Caption: GingerSnap co-founders, Jess Colgan and Brett Duncan.