Women are taking the Brisbane restaurant industry by storm! April Shen, owner of Espresso Garage, is no exception. A true extrovert, April explains the importance of being hands-on in business, living a balanced life and loving what you do.
Did you always plan to start your own business?
I was always in business. It’s always been my ambition. Before Espresso Garage, I worked in the wholesale and retail industry. I used to import housewares and fashion from China.
What is the most rewarding part about owning your own business?
Seeing my customers every day and getting to know people! Once you’re familiar with customers, they talk to you about their life, families, friends and work. Mostly we talk about work. I love my customers and I love my staff.
Do you think it is an advantage to be a woman in your industry?
Yes! Women are more chatty than men. I’ve learned a lot and I had children to raise. These experiences have given me a broad knowledge of daily life. It’s a great advantage to be a woman! We are better at initiating conversation than men.
What advice do you have for aspiring businesswomen?
Remain up to date with trends and social media. Also, you need to know your business from A to Z. These days, everyone’s opening coffee shops! But not everyone is successful. Why? Not everyone understands what is involved from A to Z. You have to know how to make coffee.
So you know how to make coffee?
I’ve learned, yes. I wasn’t from the coffee industry but when I purchased this business, I learned for six months. I can actually train my baristas! You have to be hands-on with your business… You don’t have to do everything by yourself, but you have to be able to do everything.
What’s the most challenging aspect of managing your own business?
Luckily, I don’t have kids to look after. They’ve all grown up so they look after themselves! When they are young, you need to have either grandparents to take care of them or send them to daycare. I have no family in Brisbane besides my daughter so there’s no family help. I have to face every problem myself. That’s the hardest challenge for me.
How do you balance your working life and your life outside of work?
Luckily, I don’t have to work all day. My business is mainly a morning business so I finish around midday. In the afternoon I exercise, paint and socialise with friends.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Do what you are passionate about. Successful people enjoy what they do. If you think of your job as just a job, it’s hard work.
What would you like most to change for women worldwide in 2017?
More women in male-dominated industries, like IT.