Search Store 0 
  • No products in the cart.

Sisters Doing It For Themselves; Stories Of Women Smashing It In The Café Bizz

Five Senses CoffeeBella Kranjec 7 March 2022

James Brown famously sang that ‘It’s a Man’s World’ and despite the leaps and bounds that society has made by way of women’s rights and equality, there’s still a long way to go. The coffee and hospitality industries are no different. Like many things in life, fronting up as a woman can almost always put you in a position that separates yourself from your male colleagues.

Stop and give up? Absolutely not. It’s the ones who push through, pioneer and pave the way for future generations who are the ones today, on International Women’s Day, that we want to celebrate. This particular group of people are just a handful of those saying ‘stuff it’ to the patriarchy and you can bet that we’re here to support it.

Because in the end, the song does go on to say “..it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl (or anyone gender non-confirming, we’d add.)” Got that right, James.

MERRIN, DOWN THE STREET FRANKSTON

  1. What made you decide to start your own business/café?
    I’ve always loved hospitality. My kids were both starting school and I knew it was time to head back to full time work. I always knew I wanted to have my own little café and everything fell in to place at the right time. Right location. right time in my personal life and I had a solid plan of what I wanted.
  2. What did your journey look like? Did you have a strong support network or go it your own?
    Once I made the decision to go for it, I had all the support I could ask for. Rob supported my ideas and helped turn it all in to a reality but also my girlfriends encouraged me to take the leap. One girlfriend gave me the courage to look at the site/ lease for the location I wanted, Em (who works at the shop still) always gave me the confidence to take the leap in to going out on my own and Jess (who works at the shop) has been my biggest cheerleader through the whole process.
  3. In your experience is it more challenging to start a business as a woman? What obstacles have you come across?
    I can’t tell you if it is more challenging as a woman than as a man. I know there have been some great benefits of being a female and opening a business in a small community. I already had so many connections and a big support system from friends as I had been a mum in a small community. What I do know is that some people have treated me differently than when dealing with Rob. I know I often don’t feel listened to by or respected by people eg real estate agents, reps for suppliers, angry customers etc but that is very minor in comparison to the people I come across in day to day business life.
  4. Have you found some advantages of being a female café owner? Discovered personal strengths?

    Yes. Having the support of women in the community, female friends has been a huge benefit. Also connecting with people/ customers/ employees on an emotional level has helped me build strong and successful relationships that have made DTS a success.

  5. What would you say to someone in a similar position wanting to start their own business? Any tips?
    Go for it. DTS has brought us more joy than we ever thought possible and the connections we have made with the people in our community is a bigger reward than you know, It’s hard work every day but the reward is tenfold.

TANYA, TOKEN TOASTIES FITZROY

  1. What made you decide to start your own business/café?
    Lifelong dream, have always been a big foodie and really enjoyed working in hospitality. Never really felt at home in a corporate job.
  2. What did your journey look like? Did you have a strong support network or go it on your own?
    My partner has and still is a huge support. Together we designed and built the café fit out. Now he provides huge emotional support but is focused on running his own business.
  3. In your experience is it more challenging to start a business as a woman? What obstacles have you come across?
    Not any more challenging, being successful in business is a mindset. Covid is and has been a major setback. Juggling financial priorities. The strain on physical and mental health when working long hours.
  4. Have you found some advantages of being a female café owner? Discovered personal strengths?
    No advantages specifically. Really built on personal strengths, yes – patience, resilience, leadership, maintaining a positive attitude, being able to generate a burning ambition and drive when days are particularly dark and overwhelming.
  5. What would you say to someone in a similar position wanting to start their own business? Any tips?

    Stay focused on your goals and communicate these goals to your team. Create systems for everything. Create or utilize platforms to track sales statistics. Hire a robust team of staff. Be prepared to fail, do not be scared to make mistakes. Be optimistic and find ways to solve problems, no problem is ever too big.

LOUBNA, DRIP ESPRESSO/THE DAILY POUR KITCHEN PERTH

  1. What made you decide to start your own business/café?

    I’m a chef by trade. Working as a chef for other people is nice, but I like a challenge and I like to challenge myself a bit. Being my own boss I guess is more free…always something going on.

  2. What did your journey look like? Did you have a strong support network or go it your own?
    No, I did it all on my own. I didn’t have any support. I guess it’s easier because of the experience I had. It’s hard before you’re in it, but once you’re in it, it all happens. Being in business, you just do it. I’m still doing it on my own. All the people I know, none of them are in hospitality, but I’ve got good staff that stand by my side.
  3. In your experience is it more challenging to start a business as a woman? What obstacles have you overcome?
    Business is hard. That is the obstacle, its really hard. Yes, you’re starting the business, but setting up is easy. When you open the doors, what happens after that? You never know what’s going to happen; you don’t know if it will be busy or not, how long it will take to make money. Opening the business? It’s not hard, it’s very easy, but when you open the doors I have to do the job to make sure the money comes through the door. Running the business is the hardest, not starting. It depends on experience in life, my background in hospitality helps me, as a chef. You build that confidence over time.
  4. What advantages have you found being a female café owner? What personal strengths have you discovered?
    Advantages, I wouldn’t say as a female. Cashflow, manage your time, better than working for other people, as a woman you are multitasking.
    Opening a business is a personal strength. Makes you face reality, business is all over the place, somehow you get immune to it, oh well it doesn’t matter. You manage, you juggle, you learn how to juggle, as long as the bills are paid, the business is running, I am living from it, staff have a job.
  5. What would you say to someone in a similar position wanting to start their own business? Any tips?
    If you don’t have hospitality industry experience, don’t do it. Its 247 operation. You can’t, if you have no idea, reach that stage, if you’re not hands-on or in the hospitality industry, I can jump in if someone is sick, you need to know every aspect of hospitality. You need to be able to jump in anywhere. Don’t think that business is an investment, because it’s not. Business is like a gamble. You see people want to open a business, as an investment, you see them shutting the doors in 6 months, maximum 12 months. You see them manage a business, but they cannot have their own business. they don’t last. Managers think they can manage, but they have no idea. It’s managing the money, managing staff, when you cannot get staff, it’s the paperwork, managing stock; it’s a challenge. I can work for others, I don’t have a problem with that but it’s boring.

HYERAN, FLO ESPRESSO PERTH

  1. What made you decide to start your own business/café?
    After several years of working in this industry I discovered that I enjoyed it most when interacting with people, providing great customer service and making the best coffee. I have enjoyed it even more so since starting my own business.
  2. What did your journey look like? Did you have a strong support network or go it on your own?
    It’s been tough recently but I wouldn’t trade my experiences over the last six years since starting FLO espresso. My strongest supporter has been my partner Brendan. After encouraging me to have a go, we worked hard to make it happen, including a lot of DIY shop fit out together. My family is not in Australia so my friends and staff are like my family, including Nicole Novak (Five Senses accounts team) who has been a constant source of encouragement.
  3. In your experience is it more challenging to start a business as a woman? What obstacles have you come across?
    People definitely underestimate me and my determination.
  4. Have you found some advantages being a female café owner? Discovered personal strengths?

    I have realised that I am a great communicator, especially as English is not my first language. Not sure about the advantages of being female but I will say running a really busy and successful coffee shop requires good leadership and multi tasking skills. Being a good team leader with flexible thinking makes it easier to deal with the many problems, both big and small, as they occur.

  5. What would you say to someone in a similar position wanting to start their own business? Any tips?
    Just do it but be ready for hard work! It can be stressful and tiring but you will learn how to deal with it and become a better person for the experience. FLO espresso’s inner city business location operates best on weekdays only. This means I get the luxury of extra sleep on the weekends. Running a busy coffee shop is a demanding role that requires you to be sharp on your feet all day long. If you succeed my tip would be not to forget to reward yourself and this includes eating well and getting enough sleep.

LEANNE, BINDOON BAKEHAUS PERTH

  1. What made you decide to start your own business/café?
    I was always interested in business, because my parents always had businesses and I liked it. As I grew up it was always family businesses and so on. From my side when the opportunity arose when Anne Maree’s parents purchased the old bakery in Bindoon, I have always loved customer service, I love it. I know the importance of it. It’s what I love, and obviously a quality product. Just being able to have that, and the challenges.
  2. What did your journey look like? Did you have a strong support network or go it on your own?
    Looking back; no. There was not a strong support network there at all, from all different areas. We were two young females from New Zealand who were also gay, and the bakery didn’t have a very good name for itself so there was sort of this cliquey small town thing. Back then, everyone wanted to know your business and what was going on, a lot of gossip so no support on that side; it was hard. We did have support from Anne Maree’s parents, but we didn’t have any friends here as everyone else in NZ. And support from suppliers? No way. Baking back then was just a man’s world (we are talking 2000s). All the way from not wanting to deliver to us, not wanting to take us seriously, not looking at Anne Maree as a baker on the same level in field who knows what she’s talking about. Looking back, it was an absolute joke. They didn’t take us seriously, no respect. So, no initially we had no support.
  3. In your experience is it more challenging to start a business as a woman? What obstacles have you come across?
    It was sort of like we have a reputation to get over and we better prove it. We had a guy ring us once at home to tell us this; who rings someone at home, and kind of stuff? In a way it made us more determined and focused. Anne Maree is a very good baker and really knows her stuff, but we did have to prove ourselves. So we put our heads down and butts up and just did what we both do and enjoy and do well.
    Obviously things can change over the years but still I can go into a room at a bakers comp or whatever and be talked over, be not taken seriously or even receive the comment ‘you wouldn’t believe these two girls have one of the best bakeries in WA’. It’s across every industry, unfortunately.
  4. Have you found some advantages being a female café owner? Discovered personal strengths?
    Females network differently, and this probably reflects in our different approach when we manage staff and work with customers. I think Anne Maree and I are more empathetic, more sensitive and more aware. We also know how important community is for us as women and we love it. But as a business we also recognise we are important for them as well. We buy local produce, we employ local staff and assist in helping build that sense of community. Being in hospitality, what’s the one thing you need to be? A multitasker. We’re constantly putting out spot fires and hitting the ping pong balls flying all over the place. And also seeing outside the square a little bit, we’re solution based, we can recognise a break in a system, and identify its cause and then find a solution for it. I don’t know if that’s female or male or as a business owner.
  5. What would you say to someone in a similar position wanting to start their own business? Any tips?
    You have got to look at your basics, simple rules of business like how many coffees are you going to sell to make money? Like anything, if you want to be good at something you have to live and breathe it. If you want to start a café from and work Monday to Friday, and as you do, it’s got to be every. You’ve got the passion and you’re willing to work hard yards. I probably recommend don’t do it. You will come across staffing issues, supply and demand, and cost of everything; we can’t get product in, and when we do it’s so expensive, you can’t sell it. You have to have a very amazing business model to make it work these days. That’s why you see so many cafes closing down. If you’re not up the top in line with what you do it’s not going to survive.

Be the first to know

Sign up to our newsletter to hear about the latest coffee and offers from Five Senses.

Simply fill out your details to get the latest coffee news direct from us.