Why we started:
Once upon a time in a different life, BC (before children), my husband Michael and I went on a trip to the UK to visit friends. It was back in 2004 and, fortunately for our marriage, GPS was now a common place option in hire cars. We travelled around and as we did we came across a franchise in a few locations named “Pret A Manger”. From that moment Mike wanted to open a Sandwich Bar in Bundaberg. Why we started.
At the time I was 3 years into a position in Retail Banking. Happily working 9 to 5, Monday to Friday with no week-ends or public holidays. My previous jobs in Health and Fitness saw me working early mornings late nights, week-ends, public holidays and all other times in between. I was in no rush to leave my job. Mike would mention the sandwich bar every couple of years and I would smile and nod in the right places, all the while thinking what a nightmare that would be.
One day early in 2011 …..
I was having my nails done. Shelly and I were chatting about the lack of places to get a coffee after 2pm in Bundy. Having been born in Bundaberg we both remembered the café scene from 20 years earlier and were reminiscing about all the options there used to be. I started getting quite excited about all the ideas that were rushing through my head:
- Opening late nights & week-ends
- Child friendly (I had since had a bub who was 3 at the time)
- A venue that could raise money and awareness for charities
- A cost point that was affordable
- Customer Service Excellence (something I am very passionate about)
Anyhow, I was very excited about the concept and thought this would be a great idea for SOMEONE. I never wanted that SOMEONE to be me, not in a million years! That same afternoon around 5.30, Mike came home and we were chatting about our day. He casually mentioned he’d found a shop for our Sandwich Bar. Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather, I think I heard my jaw hit the ground. I shared my conversation from earlier in the day and for the first time in our lives we felt a sense of obligation. Previously we had completed many projects together. Everything from buying, renovating, building and selling homes to business’ and property development.
These previous ‘projects’ we just did,
preparing for our future I guess. We had the resources and talent required, so why not. This time though we felt like it wasn’t even a choice for us to make but rather a commissioning we had to undertake. There wasn’t a decision to be made about whether or not we do this, we just got started. This was in February 2011.
During the following month in March I travelled to Sydney to attend a Women’s Conference. The conference went for 3 nights and 2 days. On each of these days was a special session, a sort of a round the table set up, where women were discussing the issues that were affecting us globally. At the end of the session I felt so incredibly overwhelmed by the atrocities that were happening. I already knew about many of them and now felt powerless to do anything. ( why we started )
The next day I attended the same session again ….
and this time it focused on “Being the Change” you want to see in the world. We were blessed with video clips and stories of all the amazing things that everyday people like me were doing in their part of the vineyard. It featured a little old lady knitting bears for sick kids, a mum hosting new mums in her home each week for morning tea and the stories went on. I realised then, I didn’t need to be out on the frontline fighting these battles myself but rather I could support the people who were. I could do small things from my spot in Bundy to make a big impact on our community both locally and globally.
That afternoon I heard a woman called Christine Caine speak. She explained how just a couple of years earlier she had been in an airport in Greece and saw pictures of hundreds of people who were thought to have been trafficked and were missing. She shared a video from a women whom her organisation A21 had rescued, and I wept like a child. What this women had gone through was horrific and she was one of 27 million people living in bondage today. I had found my passion, I had found what I wanted our business to support.
So for the next 9 months we went about busily preparing to open our Sandwich Bar (it still didn’t have a name).
In July I had scheduled to take my long service as we thought we would be ready to open around then. The end of September was approaching and my long service was finishing so I took a 12 month unpaid career break. All the time thinking once we got this little café up and running I would be able to return to my job at Suncorp Bank. (why we started)
Finally came opening day, the 28th December 2011.
We thought we’d be in for an easy couple of weeks, you know, take it slow settle in, set up some systems. We were thinking this because during this time of the year the Council and quite a few of the professionals around our area take some of their annual leave. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The International Jazz Festival was being held the same week – right next door!!! We got smashed every day from when we opened until we closed. It was crazy and amazing all at the same time. I’ve heard it said that the sweetest sound to a person’s ears is the sound of their own name. Well by the end of that week I was so sick of hearing my own name that it wouldn’t have bothered me if it was never used again.
Somehow we made it through that first week and backed up again on the Monday. Since then we have grown from strength to strength. We have laughed, cried, won, lost and learned a million things along the way, but that’s another story for another time. Thanks for reading.
UPDATE: Tracey has continued sharing the Alowishus journey in a recent post, where she shares how the name ‘Alowishus Delicious‘ came about and what’s behind the logo. Continue reading here.