From not knowing how to make coffee to almost losing all her money, cafe owner Rutika talks about the challenges she faced when she started her business
Running a cafe can be tough. Even harder though if you’ve got it up and running without a name. But that’s what Indian Australian cafepreneur Rutika has managed, with a flourish.
Baked fresh every day with more than 20 flavours, Rutika’s as yet unnamed cupcake bakery at Werribee Plaza is the perfect dessert oasis, running smooth on word of mouth.
“It was actually my husband’s dream that I start a business,” says Rutika, who had previously worked in a travel agency. “He said he knew that once I started something I had the determination to see it through,” adds Rutika, who handles the business on her own and works seven days a week.
Rutika worked six months as a volunteer at the cup cake shop, before she took it over.
Getting into a shopping mall and setting up a cafe was definitely no piece of cake, says Rutika. “On the one side there is a lot of competition with plenty of cafes selling coffee and cakes like we do, but that just spurs us on to make our food stand out,” says Rutika, who migrated to Australia from Gujarat a little over five years ago.
“I don’t compromise on customer service. I know how important my morning tea is, if it’s great, well, it makes my day great. If it isn’t then I’m off to a bad start,” she says, who makes sure she hires only those who love coffee. “I believe I have the power to make a positive difference in someone’s day with just a sip of my coffee. That’s why I make sure it’s perfect and brings a smile to my customer’s face,” she adds.
And to think Rutika comes from a family of tea drinkers, not coffee lovers. “Before coming to Australia, I never had knowledge of coffee or how to make coffee,” she says.
But learning how to make the perfect cuppa was just one of the challenges Rutika had to face. Another was to learn how to run a perfect business. “Within 14 days of opening the business as a franchise, we were told the company is bankrupt and all the 15-20 stores around Melbourne were being closed. We are the only one still running,” she says, and adds that she had to scramble to find suppliers for coffee, cups, and cup cakes.
“We had invested all our savings in this business, and we were about to lose it all in a fortnight,” says Rutika who had to balance saving her business with caring for her two year old daughter.
But now that the business is flourishing, Rutika has plans to open another cafe in Werribee Plaza.