Sri Lankan born Ash Hewawasam bought a Melbourne retail company in July 2019, shortly before Covid inflicted its challenges and used lockdowns to his advantage. His online hamper company portfolio has grown to achieve annual revenue of $20 million.

Hewawasam arrived in Australia from Colombo in 2000, studied business management at Central Queensland University and completed an MBA at La Trobe University before joining the workforce.

He moved up the ranks before he was appointed CFO of Kadac, an organic natural and health product supplier, and this led to him being appointed CFO of Moran Furniture which was part of the same parent company. He was then appointed CEO in six months after joining the company.

However, his dream career had its drawbacks, so he decided to scour businesses for sale online and came across a seven-year-old hamper company, Tastebuds.

“I felt a thrill. I have a passion for business and numbers. This was a new challenge and it had been placed at my feet. I was ready to take it,” he says.

Hewawasam had guided the success of other companies but always worked in a team, making this his first solo venture – and he had to adapt to a new retail landscape.

“The industry is constantly changing, so staying on top of trends and being on the lookout for new products is the norm,” he says.

“With Covid coming into effect not long after starting the business, there were many things that had to be changed, including the business strategy and vision. Being able to adapt to changing environments is a prerequisite for business owners and was life or death for mine,” he says.

Hewawasam relied on core business principles he developed from more than a decade of experience. “The ever-changing face of business means that you have to be on your game and ready to grab the next opportunity when it comes your way,” he says.

“Sometimes you have to create opportunity. Staying focused and having confidence to carry out your well-prepared plans is a must, along with having a passion for what you are doing and persevering during difficulties and obstacles.”