Monday, June 29, 2015

I love doing lots of stuff like eating

This post isn't reaaaallly about SBP.  If I do recall, the purpose of this blog is to document what happens when someone tries to open a cafe from day of idea inception to today, approx 1.5 years in to trading.  So it's a mix of a blog for the shop, and a blog for my learnings along the way.

I wanted to touch a little on the particular lifestyle of this business owner.  There are many different types of businesses so this one is specific to people who own a 7 day a week business with a shop front and a bunch of lovely staff.  These days I only work 6 days a week but lately I've been managing to work in 2 days a week for the most part.  Paired with training 5-6 times a week in weightlifting and keeping an eye on my bodyweight (weight class specific sport and well, because I'm a girl who bakes cakes for a living).

I thought I would talk a little bit about my weight actually.  I should mention that I also have another blog specifically for weightlifting and diet (2whitelights - shameless link drop) where I talk about this stuff.  But many customers over the last year have mentioned my ever decreasing weight and have been asking me lots of questions!  Such as how? you're so busy?  how do you handle being around all this yummy food?  How are you not too tired?  Well, I'm here to tell you it isn't without its struggles and it has been a tough road.

When I opened SBP I was a little 65kg girl.  I had already dopped 5kg before starting the shop previously.  Not long into the business, I was stressed and yes, around lots of food....soo... I hit 70kg..again.  At my heaviest I had been 72kg.  On that link I posted earlier I have some before and after photos.  It seems weird to post them on this page. I also managed to cause myself hormonal issues (PCOS) which tend to result in a lot of weight gain.  I still have this issue but am managing to work through it.  This makes me proud! To do it I have specific food targets for my activity levels that day that I aim to reach.  Once in the swing of it it's easy to do without even thinking.  Thats why I can drink so many flat whites and eat so much delicious sourdough.  I even work in some of my mums delicious cakes when I feel like it and its how I discovered kangaroo mince and put it on the menu! Haha!  I also had someone I could be accountable too who would help me when I hit road blocks or was feeling stressed.  This also allowed me to train in weightlifting after work every day without burning out because I was eating the right amount of protein, carbs, fat and fibre.

The point of this post is that for those who are interested, you CAN have a busy life with a lot of stressors, ups and downs and failures and successors.  You just need an achievable plan, customised to your lifestyle.  There is no one size fits all.  Your body, lifestyle demands and stressors are different to the next persons.  There are ways to work around it.  I know a few good diet coaches and program builders so give me a bell at and I'll send you in the right direction!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Resigning a lease is as scary as the first time.

I wish I could tell you specifically what is next for SBP and its coffee and culinary crew.  I've got a problem you see.  The world is my oyster (within reason) and I can't pick a road to go down.  I've never been stuck at a fork in the road like this.  The path has always been clear for me until now.  I want to keep growing and developing professionally along with my business.  I am so passionate about having a great cafe.  I've poured my heart and soul into this.

The time is approaching to re-sign the lease for my little 48sqm shop in Mortdale.  Resigning will be a longer commitment than the first time I signed it.  I cannot believe how quickly the 2 years have gone.  The good news is that SBP survived it!  It thrived in fact even with lots of ups and downs.  Business is behaving differently every quarter which is normal for any industry.  Though, staying mentally tough, being patient in quiet times, keeping cool in busy times and remaining focused when faced with not so great results some days/weeks/months/quarters is very........challenging.  Not to mention trying to maintain traces of a social life and keep up with your hobbies all at the same time.  Life is absolute madness.  I wouldn't change it for the world.

Or would I?  would I...move the shop to somewhere with more passing traffic?  A more central location?  SBPs biggest downfall is that it is based in a quiet street with little passing traffic or convenience in location.  That is also part of its charm though.

Would a second shop?  Something smaller somewhere that I could easily maintain.  It certainly would let me have a go at some of those others ideas I have that wouldn't work at SBP right now.

Maybe I would update SBPs trading strategy.  Maybe we need to be open at night time?  That could be fun.  Someone else would have to work the night time shift though.  I ain't doin that.

Maybe I want to get some of the best chefs I know on board and create pop up degustation brunches across Sydney.

Maybe I need a break.  Maybe I need to see more of the world.  It's been two years straight of 6-7 working days a week.  I really miss Paris and I'd like to go back.  I'm finally old enough to drink in the states too, so that would be good.  I've even found passion in other industries that I would like to try a hand at eventually.

Maybe SBP is fine as it is.  Maybe I'll run it until it is time for me to step away in a few more years. Perhaps at that point some other person with a lot of love to give comes along and wants to care for the place.

It is a hard thing.  You don't know anything about the future in business.  I feel like there is more to give in SBP.  I can always re-energise the place whenever I start to feel flat.  There are still so many locals yet to find the cafe and experience it.

I'm really keen to hear some feedback on how we can improve the shop.  Little suggestions and even big crazy ideas!  Maybe you think we need an SBP in every suburb?  Maybe we need puppychinos?  Maybe I need to change the colour of the shop from green to red!  Shoot me an email or comment below. 


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Throwing lattes at the wall, SBP online shop and new menu.

Since I re-opened the doors of this café after Christmas, the fact that the 1 year mark had ticked over was entirely apparent.  SBP is officially an established business.  Now the only thing that can happen is it can become more established.  Yay!  The need to keep the momentum going is a fun yet challenging project.  Any feedback and ideas are very welcome.

Days that were once upon a time considered busy in the café are now considered the quiet days.  My motivation to expand and work on new ideas is peaking because the café has gotten past the hard part of establishing a name for itself.  Now I truly feel I can dedicate myself to new projects.  New projects ARE hard though.  Maybe the fact that I slept through my alarm this morning and that I threw two take away lattes at the wall on the weekend says I'm not there mentally just yet.  I personally don't think it's a problem but those around me might have another opinion.  You've got to be slightly crazy to do this shit on your own though so I know I'm there.

I launched my new online shop a week ago.  I launched it quietly because I'm really excited to get the ball rolling but the whole website isn't quiet ready.  The online shop is open now and ready to sell!  To recap, basically it is an online avenue for people to order cakes small and large at reasonable pricing ($35-$50) for their events.  Birthdays, visiting grandma, big and small parties, gifts for people, the list goes on!  Check it out and keep it in mind next time the cake you made falls on the floor and you need an emergency fix or something.

Now the preparations for the new menu have begun!  Since opening we have changed the menu seasonally and it's time to add some new fun items in time for the weather warming up.  I'm not going to give away the new dishes just yet but some sneaky hints are kangaroo, chocolate, Turkish bread, soup, tasting plates and of course never fear, your favourite dishes will remain!


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Online shop, website and branding!

After a year of trading, SBP has certainly built a name for itself.  Not only in having great coffee, but having great food, cakes, condiments and a bit of event catering thrown in the mix too.  I am so proud of what my team and I have managed to achieve over the 12 month period.  I've spent so much time thinking of ideas and concepts to evolve the business and build it into what I dream of one day.  It is not enough these days to just open a coffee shop, build a name and stand still.  You see it all the time, small businesses growing and expanding.  Opening second shops and then another and another.  It's great and also so encouraging for me to watch others do it!

Now is the time to bring my next ideas to life.  In coming weeks (like, really really soon) our new website will launch.  It will be a basic website, beautifully designed by Vanessa Parade, the designer behind my amazing business cards and new branding which will be launched along side the new website. On it will be the basic info about the shop, our short story, a link to the menu, location, this blog, pretty pictures of the cafe and....drumroll....our online shop!  I am really crazy over the top can't sleep excited about the online shop.  Its a basic idea that is going to be a lot of fun for me.

The SBP online shop will be an outlet for my amazing customers to easily pre-order and pick up OR have personally delivered, our made-with-love products!  An online cake shop for small to large orders is an idea I have had for a while.  All of our cake range will be available for pre-order with only 1 days notice required at a minimum.  Your orders can be collected on site from the cafe, or for a flat rate of $10 to anywhere in Sydney I'll deliver it to you.  This is a really exciting concept for the business and I can't wait to launch.

Apart from made to order delicious cakes, our homemade jams, chutneys and relishes will be available in a range of sizes too!  We will be offering custom made hampers that can include cakes, our special cake mixes in jars, our condiments, packets of our coffee beans and milkshake flavours!

Did I mention reasonable pricing?

Your ideas and feedback on the concept will be greatly appreciated guys so please get in touch.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Whole Year In Review!

[Writers note: This post was originally written on December 24th and only published on January 4th]

I’m always trying to get myself to sit down and write lately.  However forcing myself to write things about unfinished projects and stories can be quiet mundane.  When I start writing I just go off on tangents and then suddenly I’m changing and deleting everything in the editing phase and then I just give up all together because there was no real conclusion.

My usual routine of making coffee, eating, weightlifting and sleeping however has been somewhat ‘welcomely’ (I made this word up for context) and unwelcomely interrupted by Christmas and new year celebrations.  Welcomed because I’m really tired and grumpy lately.  Unwelcomed because I’m a creature of habit and sometimes get uneasy when I have to relax and do nothing.  The staff want a holiday and all the customers are going away.  The gym is closed.  My family want to go away.  Banana Jon*’s family are living in rural NSW and we’ve been meaning to visit.  All of this results in me being out of my usual nest and being surrounded by temporary change.  Today is day one and to no surprise I’m already completely inspired and sort of lost for things to do simultaneously.
Yes, everywhere I go, even when away from work, requires coffee.
The shop closed on the 23rd of December and will reopen on the 6th of January.  SBP first opened its doors on January 6th 2014.  That means we are 1 year old.  How amazing is that? So with that, I present to you a honest straight from the heart year in review!

The 12 months flew by and I’m very thankful for that.  It doesn’t matter how many contracts you sign for various things when starting up your first business, you never stop feeling a little tinsy bit nervous that you might…maybe…just possibly…be about to throw your life savings into a small pool with a large shark in it and then put a lot of effort in to the best double back flip you could in to the water after your money and just end up belly flopping instead.  Now that I’ve made it to 12 months I feel a bit more at ease.  ‘They’ say that most business start ups don’t make it past their first year.  It seems insane to a lot of people that I’m still standing because I failed math, science, visual art and then just dropped out after year 10.  Funnily enough I nailed accounting to trial balance (on the day of the exam I finally worked it out. Before everyone else in the class.  And was the first to get it correct as well.  What the hell right?) and the PRINCIPAL of my business college actually told me she was shocked I had passed because there is “no way I could have cheated”.  She was a cow.  If you really believe in something and you’re genuinely interested in something [i.e scrumdidlyumptious coffee and good eats] and you have at least one bone in your body that can commit to the cause, then everything is going to work out just fine.  I promise.  Screw that stats!

Ok ok so I made it through the first year.  I know, ‘they’ ALSO say that the second year is where it counts.  There is room for error in the first year.  You don’t have to make profit in the first year. In fact you can get away with running at a loss.  A large percentage of businesses do actually run at a loss for some time.  Well, if I had had the money to run at a loss for a while I would have.  However I opened SBP on day one with something ridiculous like a few thousand bucks in the bank.  Running at a loss wasn’t going to cut it.  So somehow (baby Jesus, was that you?) I made a PROFIT!  Its not enough to buy me a beautiful house.  Actually it’s not enough to buy me any house at all.  Or even a caravan.  That doesn’t matter.  It means every one of my staff members was paid on time.  And every one of my suppliers too.  Even that gas bill I was over charged by $2k was covered.  My landlord was happy…hell, even my Mum has mostly been able to sleep at night. How wonderful!  So to all of my lovely customers who check in on the reg and ask how everything is going, rest assured, everything is ok. I think the second year is going to be a piece of pie.

So many of my wonderful customers have become great friends to me.  I get asked a lot about how business is going and so many people wish me well.  Its actually overwhelming sometimes the amount of support people give.  No idea how I earned that but I’ll take it.

This year I have a brand spanking new cake cabinet with new favourites coming in.  We will be selling our jam, chutney, muesli etc etc in pretty packages on the reg now. We will be doing more catering and we will be selling whole cakes made to order.  We will be updating our menu seasonally as always and we will continue to serve Five Senses coffee and Single Origin Roasters coffee.  Our produce and meat will continue to be from local businesses to show support and to keep it all fresh daily!  Because coffee and breakfast should be just that!

Thank you everyone for your support and I can’t wait to get back behind my shiny silver Synesso and start serving ya’ll the coffee you’ve been missing for the past 2 weeks.



Saturday, November 29, 2014

Preparing for the New Year!

December is about to start.  In January SBP will have been pumping out the coffees and incredible amounts of avocado for a year now.  How crazy is that?  I was so scared of what I was getting myself into.  The amount of work involved in owning your own 7 day a week business as a solo project is hard to comprehend.  Perhaps that is why people do it in the first place?  Luckily it was sooooo busy that I barely had time to watch the calendar and its already a year in.  I didn't close down! Yiew!

This is my year in review post.  As the months ticked on, very little patterns actually showed themselves.  What I do know is that cafes are very busy on mothers and fathers days.  Cafes are very quiet during music festivals.  Cafes are full of teachers during school holidays.  People don't eat or drink coffee much between 11am and 12.30pm.  People arrive at the same time and leave all at once.  People will go nuts for carrot cake one day, people won't touch it the next.  People will only eat gluten free food one week of the month and go nuts the rest.  People will only pay with $50 notes one week of the month (pay day) and then people will only pay in 20c coins 3 weeks later. Wow.

Most of the above are interesting facts that I don't have control over.  However a couple of patterns have emerged that have caused me to review the workings of the business, and update appropriately.  To kick start the new year, the new changes will be brought into place as of December 1. This will provide a smooth transition into 2015.  The changes allow me some time off without having to close the shop or hire management (I'm just not ready to leave my baby in the hands of others full time).  I'm very excited about this because the changes will allow my café to be more profitable in the long term due to a decrease in overheads paired with a steady income.  Basically, the changes will not affect the majority of customers but they will positively affect SBP. Oh, and I will get some time off.  This7 days a week thing is crazy stuff.

I wish to announce the new opening hours of Short Black Panther as of December 1 2014.
Monday - Friday
6.30am - 3pm
7am - 3pm
7am - 12pm

Wooh Sunday afternoon off!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The live music, the catering and the new menu!

I have lots of exciting topics to talk about, 41 minutes left on my laptop and no idea where the charger is.  Lets go.

Last week we had our first live music performance during service.  The shop was packed out, but everything went smoothly (except for the burrito that landed on my chest as a result of slipping on the wet floor thanks to the rain).  Vanessa was great and provided a fantastic atmosphere for the shop.  I'm really excited to do it again.  For anyone else interested in performing in our space, send me an email at and we can tee up an opportunity.

I've had a few enquiries now about pre-ordering whole cakes and cake slabs for functions and events.  People seem keen to take them into their office morning teas, bridal showers, baby showers or just afternoon tea with the extended family.  Its so great to be an option and we really appreciate that you guys think of us when you think of what you would like to serve to your friends and family.  We are accepting orders for cakes that you have seen in shop before.  24 to 48 hours notice is fine, and the price is depending on size.  If you have any enquiries about this, contact me by email or phone on 0466870890.  We are more than happy to whip something up for your guests so don't be shy!

With this is mind I have begun to develop a catering catalog as well that includes a full menu. Let me know what you would like to see.  Any feedback to help the menu be perfect is ideal!

Aaaaand I'm out of bat....