“Being a small business owner certainly is like having a child - you put yourself last pretty much all the time.”
In a few words, describe yourself and your practice.
I’m a foolish 27 year old that opened up a café four years ago with no idea about what I was getting myself into. That said, I’ve learnt lots along the way.
How do you start your process?
We’re open 7 days a week, 365 days a year unless we feel like shutting up shop for a public holiday every now and then. So it starts at 7am every morning when myself and the barista open up. We spend around half an hour pulling down chairs and setting up, and then dialing in the coffee machine. Tasting, adjusting the grind until you reach the ‘sweet spot’. Then the doors open and it just all goes from there.
WHAT MAKES YOUR WORK UNIQUE?
It’s hard to have a unique selling point as coffee is the main reason the customers come in. So we try to make sure our coffee is consistently bang on. If you burn it or over-extract it one time, it can cost you a regular customer.
Is your practice how you support yourself? If not, what else are you working on to do so?
Yes, it’s how I support myself, and it’s all-consuming. I have little social life. Being a small business owner certainly is like having a child - you put yourself last all the time.
What are some challenges you're facing in your practice?
Owning your own business, especially one in the hospitality industry, means you face different challenges everyday. Most you can take care of and control yourself – it just takes up a lot of time.
Staffing, that would have to be the hardest. Finding people with a good work ethic, who rock up when they need to, with a good attitude and who get the job done. Of course being in hospitality they come and go all the time, so it’s sad when you have to say goodbye to a good one.
HOW DOES WHERE YOU LIVE AFFECT YOUR WORK?
Melbourne is the heart of coffee scene at the moment. Nowhere else is coffee being produced so well on this scale. Every corner has a cafe on it, & most are churning out great coffee so it keeps us all on our toes.
WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING IF YOU WEREN'T DOING THIS?
Oh God, who knows?! Most likely working in a kitchen somewhere. It’s a vicious cycle, I exhaust it to the point of hatred but always come crawling back.
If you were to share one piece of advice with those who aspire to do what you do, what would it be?
Just to be prepared, make sure you have worked in a management role in hospitality before. It must be your passion because like any job there are some days you just want to call in sick or take a holiday, but when it’s your own business, it’s not that simple. If you’re not there, it just doesn’t run.
Are you comfortable sharing all aspects of your process? if not, why?
Yeah, absolutely. There have been highs and severe lows. I have wanted to throw in the towel on more than one occasion. Depression and anxiety would take over me quite often and then the next day we could be written up in some prestigious magazine and it would all seem worthwhile. That in itself is exhausting. Being a small business owner isn't easy.
HOW WOULD YOUR AUDIENCE DESCRIBE YOU?
A random customer would most likely think I’m not very engaging.
It takes me a while to warm up and form relationships with our “regulars”, but when they crack me,
it will most likely become a forever friendship.
What is the most useful tip or advice you’ve ever been given?
“You’ll be fine when the pain is gone”
What are you currently working on?
Actually since you came by and snapped those photos of me, Tomboy has sold!!! It had been on the cards for nearly a year. 3 years was enough for me, I needed something new and the place needed someone with a fresh perspective.
I’m working in marketing for high-end audiovisual distributor, Interdyn. I’m also working as a chef in my friend’s catering business Pot & Pan, which is lots of fun. I'm still waiting to get slapped across the face with my next business idea. To be honest, it’s been nice just working for someone else. Going in, doing the work, clocking off and going home and not having to worry about all the little extra things.