The Law of the Few


  • Keep Imagining

    Keep Imagining

    Geoff Jaeger


    Geoff Jaeger is the founder behind creative agency With a collaborative team around Australia and a busy schedule that sees him regularly commuting between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, Geoff has come to understand his own rhythm. An advocate for determining your own schedule, while producing high quality work, Geoff breaks the mould of what a creative individual should do. Instead, he chooses to live the life he imagines...

    What's the story behind your business? | I left a corporate communications role in 2011 to explore freelance writing and photography. I wanted the freedom to choose the content and nature of the work I was doing, while working at my own pace on projects that inspired and stimulated me.

    After several successful photographic exhibitions - which weren’t going to keep paying the bills - I hunkered down to earn a living from my writing, discovering my clients were also in need of graphic and web design work. I approached a graphic and web designer I knew, who were already working as sole traders. It then just seemed sensible to become a team, with a collective business name.

    As the founder behind and a regular commuter between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, how do you strike a balance between work and leisure? | That’s a really interesting question because when you love what you do, the line between work and leisure can blur. Each city offers different work and leisure opportunities, and I tend to plan down time activities around my immediate location.

    Right now, the majority of my clients are in Sydney, so it’s always more relaxing in Brisbane and Melbourne. By that, I mean less planned meetings and more flexibility during the day. I know if I don’t have enough time off, my efficiency and ability to think clearly reduces dramatically.


    Persistence. Just keep at it. You’re bound to make mistakes along the way, but learn from them or make those mistakes again until you do.

    One of the joys of running your own business is determining your own schedule and keeping track of your own time. What challenges have you encountered in being your own boss and how have you overcome these challenges? | After years of standard work hours, it’s amazing how ingrained they become; just how much you’re left with a sense of how you ‘should’ still be working during those hours. This was challenging in the early days before I recognised my own work rhythm.

    Left to right, the supporting cast of Zac Hardake- Film Editor, Helen Thomas - Web Designer; Graphic Designer & Elke Ploetz - Graphic Designer

    Having the freedom to choose my work hours, I frequently use the early afternoon for exercise or a walk, regardless of where I am, my brain seems to naturally shut down at that time of day. Early morning and late afternoon, I’m naturally at my computer working, and can easily lose track of the time. What I notice now is how I find it difficult to stop work as my mind is always thinking about a business idea or next step. That makes the challenge to plan down time, but that’s a great sign that I’m doing the right thing, so I don’t really mind.

    As a creative individual and founder of a creative agency, what do you feel is the most important element in your daily work? | The most important element is being able to solve a client’s problem or provide an opportunity. The best solution is usually a collaboration where we each appreciate and recognise the other’s expertise.

    Being available, particularly for time-poor small businesses, and helping them achieve their goals are the most important elements for me. I like to think our clients can contact us anytime - and they do - as if they were just walking into the next room to chat about a brief. Given the ongoing changes in communications platforms, it’s also important to be able to share current thinking and creative trends.

    What do you believe is the most important attribute in building a successful and thriving business? | Persistence. Just keep at it. You’re bound to make mistakes along the way, but learn from them or make those mistakes again until you do. As Henry David Thoreau said: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” The confidence thing takes time, but increases as you keep going and keep imagining…

  • The Fighter Inside

    The Fighter Inside

    Jack Bongers

    Founder, Bow Fighters.

    Drawing upon the fighter inside, Jack Bongers has established a world-first martial arts clothing brand that celebrates authenticity and the core values of the sport. Committing a strong sense of purpose and a pursuit of excellence, Jack Bongers' work remains true to the fighter mentality. He lives and breathes the brand behind Bow Fighters, takes the hits and returns to fight another day.

    What's the story behind your business? | I first got into martial arts after finishing high school and having just moved out of home. Life, at the time, seemed a little out of control with so many things going on. With the desire for wanting to find a sense direction and focus, I walked to the nearest MMA gym and started training in jujitsu. I felt it had an immediate impact on my character and self-development. This effect is something, I believe, today’s media doesn't truly understand about martial arts and fighting.

    After leaving my fly-in-fly-out job in 2013 as a Civil Engineer, I travelled to Thailand to train in martial arts. I lived close to a well-known MMA gym and trained with like-minded people. I soon realised it was a similar passion for martial arts and training that brought all of these people from different backgrounds together. It was this feeling, this mix of people and this energy that grew and developed; that inspired me to create Bow. This is why, from the very beginning, Bow has always been about the team Bow Fighters.

    I wanted to break the stereotypes. The bow in martial arts is a great tradition - a sign of humility, respect and honour shown towards your opponent. Without your opponent you never reach the full potential of your character.

    The name 'bow' seems to be representative of a deeper symbolism surrounding mixed martial arts and its origins. How did you come to choose this name and what does your brand represent? | Looking back, the name came really easy to me. I wanted something that would stand out from other MMA brands from the very beginning and that people would immediately understand. I wanted to break the stereotypes. The bow in martial arts is a great tradition - a sign of humility, respect and honour shown towards your opponent. Without your opponent you never reach the full potential of your character.

    Could you tell us more about the creative process behind developing each item in the range? | For me, the creative process has always been driven by my lessons learnt and the culture I have been exposed to through mixed martial arts. The act of training and fighting is such an internal pursuit for performance and self-development, that there are always so many lessons to be learnt and philosophies to be shared. I have been inspired to create a brand that has meaning behind it; a sense of authenticity which underpins the core values of martial arts. Every day, I aim to create a brand that fighters and fans are proud to represent. I want Bow to stand alone unlike any other brand and ring true to the original nature of MMA.

    When the going gets tough in starting a new business, what traits have you fallen back on to help you push through? | From the very moment I started the company, I was completely and 100% committed. I had just returned from my trip to Thailand where I had been beaten by fighters that were much more advanced in their training than I was. I had the passion for the sport pumping through my veins unlike ever before and I had acknowledged to myself, as a man, that I didn't want to let go of that feeling. As we all know, there are always going to be challenges with anything in life, so I just took each obstacle as it came. Any doubt that tries to make its way in, I push aside and keep working towards my goals. I knew from the start that I was going to have to take a few hits but, then again, I always knew I was getting into a fight.

    The vision is everything to me;

    it is what motivates me every single day. 

    As a new business owner developing a strong brand in the mixed martial arts industry, you've clearly identified a vision for your business. That is, creating the next generation of mixed martial arts fighters. Why is this vision important to you and how have you crafted it for your business? | The vision is everything to me; it is what motivates me every single day. I wake up in the morning thinking about it… I work all day until I physically can’t anymore and then fall asleep thinking about it. I live and breathe it daily. I feel like I have been able to shape my vision with genuine feeling and thought towards the sport. My vision is inspired by the fighter in me that wants to be world champion; the martial artist in me that wants to pursue personal excellence. I aim to strengthen and promote the team that wears Bow and the businessman in me which wants to make a difference in combat sport.

    What has been your greatest achievement at Bow since launching in 2013 that you'd like to share? | So many great and fun and exciting things have happened since I started this process. But I think my greatest achievement is the creation of the team who wears Bow - be it Australia’s best MMA fighters Hector Lombard and Kyle Noke, arguably the nicest guy in the UFC, Uriah Hall, Antonio Silva, Andrew Craig, New Zealand's first glory signed kick boxer, Israel Adysanya, or be it the local hungry fighters representing the team in America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, Thailand, China and New Zealand. Every time someone joins team Bow, it’s another step towards achieving a worldwide MMA brand that can be renowned for its authenticity and credibility.

    Looking to the future now, what are your plans for Bow? | I feel drawn to use a fighting analogy... I want to see Bow fight for the title. But I know Bow isn't the number one contender in the world just yet. More like a fighter who has just come to the UFC and had his first win. Not everyone knows about us, but those who do are impressed. I believe that people love the brand and the team because we do things differently, move in a different way, we talk in a different way, we simply are different to other stereotypical MMA brands. We're rough around the edges, but we have potential and people want to see if we can put it all together on the big show.

    So, with that in mind, I will leave you with this... Keep your ears open and your eyes peeled as we have many plans in store for the next few years. We will be training hard - mastering our movement - as we create our own opportunities to build a team of like-minded people and fighters. 

    Join the next generation. Bow Fighters.

  • Made with Love

    Made with Love

    Alejandra Jimenez & Miguel Mungarrieta

    Co-Founders, Apples On Ainsworth

    Alejandra Jimenez and Migel Mungarrieta of Apples On Ainsworth believe that a successful local business is the result of crafting a sense of community and delivering work with passion. Apples On Ainsworth, a small but bustling local cafe in Brisbane's south, has been praised as one of the city's very best. They agree that it starts with being a part of the local community. 

    How did you two first meet? | A: Miguel and I met eight years ago at a Christmas party that I was almost forced to attend as my flatmate needed a 'wing woman' - you know, just in case she needed an excuse to flee. Miguel was there with some friends and, because the world is really small, it happens that some of my friends knew his friends and they introduced us.

    How did you discover a passion for cooking? | A: To be honest I've always loved cooking. I had my beginnings in the kitchen at a very early age as my granny taught me how to cook when I was about eight years old. My parents have always been great cooks in their own right, so I could venture to say that I inherited their love for food and their passion for mixing things together to see the outcome. Running a cafe was originally meant to be Miguel's venture as he was the one who wanted to open his own business and in all fairness we both had great jobs. However, we used to think of being in our ‘comfort zones’ for fear of stepping into the unknown. Ultimately, escaping from our comfort zones was really what we both wanted, which has eventually helped us grow.

    Why did you decide to hold on to the name 'Apples On Ainsworth', and how have you kept the original feel of the shop and its history intact? | M: To be truthful, we like to think that 'Apples On Ainsworth' has history and that it sort of belongs to the suburb. The shop was a fruit shop for many years before being transformed into a cafe and many customers still relate to it. So, we said to ourselves, 'Why change something that is not broken?' The previous owners did a great job and we believe that we have kept its original identity simply because we fell in love with it in the first place. Every item in this shop holds its own little story to tell.

    Community tells you when something is working - and more importantly, when something is not.

    Starting and running a busy cafe as a husband and wife team must come with its challenges and rewards. What has been the greatest learning curve for you both in working together and still retaining your intimacy as a couple? | A: I would say that the biggest learning curve has been learning how not to bring work home with us, and learning how to appreciate and respect each other's strengths. I am not going to lie to you - it has been challenging, but even though it is a work-in-progress, I like to believe that we are getting better at it. You see, we have been together for a quite some time and, as a couple, we know what the other likes or dislikes but, work-wise, we are very different individuals, with different professional backgrounds and skills that have never worked together before, with the exception of a few small home projects (which don't count, by the way). 

    This new venture presented us with far more challenges than the average business owner with a regular business partner would have because, at the end of the day, they just go their separate ways and they resume the next morning and, with a new day, comes new energy, but when you have to drive home with your spouse, and you go out for dinner or sit at home, sometimes it is very difficult not to talk about work, so it takes a huge conscious effort on our behalf to not do it. We also believe in giving each other space to do separate leisure activities and try to respect each other's personal free time.

    You have crafted a real sense of community at Apples On Ainsworth, both in the cafe and online. Why is creating a community important to you and what advice would you give to other brick and mortar business owners who are looking to do the same? | M: It is very simple - we are part of a community that has embraced and accepted us as one of their own.  We are grateful for this, so we take our time to get to know our customers. If you allow people to interact with each other and share experiences, you will develop valued relationships. Salisbury is an amazing, growing suburb, filled with lovely people. Every time those doors open, we strive to give them our very best and sometimes you succeed, sometimes you don’t - we are only human. But, the important thing is that we keep doing it and we do it with love. In order for this place or any other neighbourhood to succeed, community must exist. There must be people willing to support the local business and you must be willing to get involved, give back and be supportive too. Why is this important for a business owner? Community tells you when something is working - and more importantly, when something is not.

    Many people praise Apples On Ainsworth for its honest food, delicious coffee and great service. What's the most important value behind Apples On Ainsworth, and why? | A: Honesty (and love, of course). We do cook honest food - simple, yet tasty and natural - we strive to source good quality and, where possible, organic or free range produce to provide our customers with quality food. Most of our products are produced by local artisans and that is where our secret lies. We are part of a circle of small artisan businesses that support each other - another small community within our community. We are just trying to perpetuate the cycle of good quality food; in some way going back to basics, where the more natural the food, the better.

    We like being humble, fresh and simple.

    Both of you work full-time in the cafe and manage its day-to-day running. Why is it important for both of you to have a presence each day and what do you each bring to Apples on Ainsworth? | M: We enjoy working at the shop and believe that interacting not only with our customers, but also with our staff is important simply because we work as a team and our customers are our business.

    A: Miguel and I are very different individuals and with different professional backgrounds, so I guess we just play to our strengths. Divide and conquer, so to speak. Miguel has a marketing background and is very creative. He has a very talented eye for photography and, as a result, he takes care of all the marketing and handling of our PR via social media. He also deals with our suppliers on a daily basis as a result of his barista experience. I, on the other hand, am an industrial engineer by profession. I minored in human resources and majored in business administration and contract administration so, as you could guess, I take care of the nitty gritty of the business, including staff and book-keeping.

    What do you think is the one defining factor that truly sets Apples on Ainsworth apart? | M: I think is a little bit of everything that we have mentioned here. We like being humble, fresh and simple. We really and truly believe in what we do and that work should be meaningful and enjoyable. 

    A: We enjoy what we do and we thrive by being a part of this community. We dedicate time to our customers and this is important to us - supporting  small, local artisan businesses is key to what we do. In general, we just love being a part of the food revolution that is finally making its way to the south of Brisbane.

  • Of Passion and Glass

    Of Passion and Glass

    Soozie Hilker

    Founder, A Passion for Glass

    Passion isn't something that can be made, but it is carved in glass in each of the bespoke pieces created by Soozie Hilker. An eternal optimist, Soozie has launched her own business at the age of 59 and the only road ahead is forwards. Crafting completely bespoke pieces for her clients, A Passion for Glass is more than just her business name, it is her heart etched in each piece she creates.

    What's the story behind your business? | Due to a family illness, I recently returned to Australia after living in Europe and the United Kingdom for nearly 22 years. When the unexpected opportunity arose to start my own business I had, initially, intended to draw on my corporate background and experience to commence my enterprise. However, one sunny morning, whilst meditating, I had what could only be described as an 'Aha'  moment and, in the calm space between breathing in and breathing out, the realisation occurred that I wanted to choose a different path - and that was to work with glass.

    I had what can only be described as an 'Aha moment and, in the calm space between breathing in and breathing out, the realisation occurred that I wanted to choose a different path [for my business] - and that was to work with glass.

    Why did you choose the name 'A Passion for Glass'? | I was having a phone conversation with my sister describing my vision of the business, it's future and the pieces I was creating, and she remarked on the passion she heard in my voice. I realised then that 'A Passion for Glass' was the perfect name, as it completely reflects how I feel when working with this medium.

    Why did you choose to work with glass over other materials? | My love for working with glass commenced in the late 1980's as a hobby working with stained glass. I have always loved the illuminating effects light and shadow casts on the different glasses, and I find this medium extremely emotive and rewarding when creating different designs. I was recently given the experience of working with 'warm' or fused glass and, from that moment, I was hooked. When kiln-heated glass is incredibly hot, it becomes this beautiful, living, fluid form and the 'natural' elements within the glass take over to create minute changes; creating a unique piece and leading to exciting discoveries each time the kiln is 'cracked'.

    How do you feel taking the risk of launching your own business? What advantages and challenges are the result of launching at 59 years of age? | Good question! I guess I am slightly older than the average age a person commences a new business endeavour, however, I have an extremely diverse business background - including flight attendant, area manager for a prestigious car brand, manager for an international company and international on-site conference coordinator - from which to draw experiences from. 

    On my personal journey,  I have travelled extensively since 18 years of age. I've lived in many foreign countries and studied a number of natural therapies, and these experiences combine and are drawn from on a daily basis, either consciously or sub-consciously. As a sole trader, with all the areas of business this entails, naturally there are the very rare nano-seconds when I question my decisions. However, in these moments, a quote comes to mind:

    Fear is past experiences and challenges,

    Strangling the present,

    And suffocating the future!

    And that is definitely not for me...

    What is your favourite piece that you've created, and why? | Definitely the 'Tree of Life'. The commissions for this piece are so personal and varied - a Mother wanting her children's initials 'carved' into the tree trunk, a newly married couple with a 'carved' heart containing their initials and a young woman who recently lost a sibling wanting his initials carved as a personal memorial - each one a touching commission and I feel honoured that I have been allowed to share in these moments.

    How do you represent the customer and yourself in all of your bespoke pieces? | Listening and hearing the client's 'story' surrounding the bespoke piece is the most important factor. This gives me the vision of how to best create the memories or events they wish to remember. It's their story told in glass.

    What are you working on now and what's next for A Passion for Glass? | At present, a commission of the Arthurian legend 'The Green Man', the Wierwood Tree from the popular Game of Thrones television series, and a set of glass 'etis' coasters, part of a series based on the story 'The Starfish Thrower'.

    What's next? Christmas is just around the corner! Creating delicate Christmas decorations, experimenting with 'lacing' glass, working towards my own studio and kiln and, on a personal level, preparing myself for the 870km Camino De Santiago trek across France and Spain next year to celebrate my 60th birthday.

  • For The Win

    For The Win

    Robyn Henderson

    Founder, Networking To Win

    Robyn Henderson is indeed one of a kind. She's a remarkable individual who just happens to cover all three characteristics of The Law of the Few concept described in Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point. She's an incredible connector, a wealth of knowledge and a natural motivator. I caught up with her recently and walked away thinking, this blog is all about her.

    Robyn, you've achieved incredible milestones in your career as a professional speaker. But take us back to the early days. What was it like setting up your own business? | In 1992 I took a leap of faith and left my sales manager’s job and launched my speaking business. At the time, my speaking skills were below average. A mentor suggested that I if I wanted to be a speaker, I needed to make sure that I was passionate about whatever I spoke about. At the time I was running a women’s business network in Sydney and realised that a lot of people attended and sat with their mates – without networking. So I wrote my first networking book, launched a speaking business and created lots of complimentary speaking engagements.

    When community groups are not paying the speaker, their expectation is lower. However, the more you speak professionally , the better you get and eventually you do get paid.

    I believe when you are genuinely interested in people, the communication skills take care of themselves. 

    So public speaking, persuasion and interpersonal skills - these were skills that you worked and developed on? | Precisely. In the beginning I did not have public speaking skills. I joined Toastmasters International in around 1990 to gain confidence in my sales role. From there I took an interest in professional speaking and as for the interpersonal skills, I believe when you are genuinely interested in people, the communication skills take care of themselves. 

    Has your business changed much from when it started? What's your business overview these days? | I have reinvented myself a number of times in the last 22 years to match the market needs. I expanded my topics to include generating referrals, building strategic alliances and networking your way to a job or career move. 12 years ago I also started running courses showing people how to write and self publish non fiction books. More recently I have also included project managing book production for first time authors as well as ghost writing books for busy people. Basically your clients and prospects tell you what you they want and these days I try to find a way to accommodate most requests. 

    There is a wonderful African proverb, “To go fast go alone, to go far go together”. 

    So Networking To Win has come a long way. Would you care to letting us in on your secret to success in small business? | Networking certainly helps any career or business. There is a wonderful African proverb, “To go fast go alone, to go far go together”. When you network with master networkers you are always connecting people who might be able to help each other and expanding your own networks.  

    What would you say sets you apart from your competition out there? | I co-author books with my competition and really don’t worry too much about who else does the work I do, as we all put our own slant on things. When it comes to networking, in the bigger picture, hopefully when the whole world networks with integrity we will all do ourselves out of a job – and that will be worth celebrating.

    I'm sure you've networked with hundreds and thousands. Has there been one encounter that stands out? | In the late ‘90s  I spoke to 900 Arabs in Bahrain at the Arabian Society of Human Resources Management conference. There were 885 men (most of them in their traditional robes and head gear and only 15 women. It was very daunting. there were only 2-3 women on the program and my presentation was very well received. I was invited back the next year and made some great connections. The opportunity was given to me after a presentation I gave in Wagga Wagga (population 60,000 on the NSW/Victorian border)

    What's the message you often find yourself driving home to your clients? | Be friendly to everyone, you never know who they know, who they can connect you with, what you can learn from them and vice versa.

    Is there anything exciting coming up for Networking To Win in the next few months? | Once I finish two current writing projects and some work in Karratha and Darwin, I have a great book on strategic alliances and another one on networking your way to your next job or promotion that are in my head and just need to be put in writing. As well as creating some online programs on networking and book writing. And hopefully do well progressing my Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Policy Making that I am completing externally with Charles Darwin University.

    Thanks for your time today Robyn. | It was a pleasure, Marvin. Thanks again for the opportunity.

  • Building the Yes

    Building the Yes

    Michelle Francis

    Founder, Sherlock Homes and Investments

    There are few out there who can go with the flow, take risks and keep battling despite what setbacks thwart their way. Michelle Francis is one of them. She’s just launched her own real estate agency called Sherlock Homes Investments, and she’s already scaffolding and building a solid path for a successful career in the industry.

    How did you start out? | I have a family friend who is a developer, when he heard I was in real estate, he asked if I would be interested in working with him. I know that new homes and units aren’t always the best investment for some, but this opportunity was too good to pass up, and I knew that this idea could grow into more than what was available right now. 

    What gave you the inspiration to name your agency after the great fictional detective? | I was looking for a name that would be memorable. A name that would stick. Something quirky and almost cheeky. Sherlock Holmes was a detective hero, solving people’s cases, with practices against the norm. I saw these characteristics as parallels of how I work. I search and detect the best homes for investors, solving portfolio ‘cases' in my own way. I’ve also referenced the home of Holmes, of 221b Baker Street in London, choosing my web address as

    So that’s my business: Sherlock Homes Investments - Investment homes without the mystery

    What do you love about the real estate industry? Is there anything about it you'd like to change? |This industry is totally what you make of it. You can do as much or as little and reap exactly what you sow. The only unfortunate thing about that is we, as a collective industry, can be very selfish with our intentions and we have created a ‘sleazy’ name for ourselves. The only way I believe this stigma can be changed is through individual integrity and reflection. If just one agent makes it a priority to uphold a high standard of business ethics and honest attitude, a ripple effect of trust and respect should follow. 

    Was entrepreneurship something you've always wanted to dive into? | I suppose I have always had a streak of going against the norm, and I’ve been lucky enough to try my hand at a few different avenues, but I’ve never considered myself an entrepreneur, more of an opportunist and proactive creator.  

    What have been your toughest challenges so far? | Ooh good question, there have been a few really great challenges that have tested my resolve. And I could say I’ve grown stronger from them. I suppose my greatest challenge was my previous role as manager of a local independent video shop. 6 months into my supervisor role, the owner tried to shut the place down. I felt it still had potential, but the management wasn’t on the same path as what the community needed, so I approached the owner and asked for a second chance. He said yes and gave me $5000 to move the shop, design and renovate it and be up and running in two weeks. It cost me and my amazing staff a lot of 3am finishes to get us there, but we did it!

    And so what’s been your biggest achievement so far in your career? | I’d have to say the moment I launched this business. I’ve worked hard bouncing back from the closing of the video shop I was running. It was incredibly daunting to leave the comfort and familiarity of a franchise where the work was steady and safe for something that's never a guarantee. But I did it, and it has been the most thrilling, rewarding and freeing choice I've ever made, and I haven't looked back yet, nor do I see myself doing so. This new endeavour is absolutely amazing and I'm enjoying every second, every new encounter and every step I take towards joining an investor to their investment.

    Who or what inspires you to keep doing what you're doing? | My favourite quote of all time: “You already have your no, you may as well try for the yes.”

    How would you like to set yourself apart from the rest of the sharks out there? | I would like to be the person that people refer to as the honest one, she’s got my back. How I can create that, is I don’t follow the traditional real estate sales procedure. Instead of pushing certain ‘stock’ that belongs to one developer, aka a Spruiker, I find out exactly what the investor wants and where they want it, and then go find it for them. I don’t want to push a certain location as investor friendly, because there are plenty out there that just don’t work for investors.

    You're definitely a winner no doubt about that. But if "Failure" just decides to rock up out of the blue and knock on the door, what would you say to “Failure"? | Hey, How you doin’? In all seriousness, though, if failure knocked on my door, it wouldn’t matter, mistakes are a great teacher. ☺ 

    So where to from here? | We keep trucking! I love what I do, and I think I do it well, and that’s half the battle. Now it’s offering people the same passion and confidence I hold in myself and look forward to creating and building portfolios for savvy investors!

  • Short and Sweet

    Short and Sweet

    Craig Thompson

    Co-Founder, Tall Short Espresso

    It's the little guys who you don't see coming that you need to look out for. Craig Thompson is one of those guys. Perhaps short in stature, but certainly punching above his weight with his unique and funky cafe concept behind the successful Tall Short Espresso brand.

    What's the story behind your business? | Tall Short Espresso is a cafe business that I started with an old friend from university, Anthony Perry. I'm 5'4" and he towers over me at 6'5", so it didn't take us long to come up with a name for our business that says something about us. 

    Anthony and I became good mates while we were both studying commerce. We graduated together, completed our CA programs together and both went on to work in large accounting firms. It wasn't until we were in the middle of our travels, while working in the United Kingdom and Europe, that we decided to make the big call and start our own cafe business together. And, here we are.

    How did you manage to start a successful cafe with no prior hospitality experience? | Having no prior experience in hospitality has actually given us the opportunity to approach this industry quite differently. We weren't weighed down by convention. Early on, we both put in a lot of hard work in getting our ideas off the ground and establishing some good cash flow. One of our first ideas, which has become our mascot for Tall Short Espresso, is our 1969 red VW Kombi Van that we bought. In nine months, we restored it, painted it and turned it into a mobile cafe that wasn't tied down to any one location in Brisbane. In business, you need to be one of three things - better, cheaper or different. If we wanted to compete with the large, established businesses already out there, then we needed to be different.

    " In business, you need to be one of three things - better, cheaper or different."

    We managed to set ourselves apart, but we also knew how important it was to simplify our business model. Anthony and I were both inspired by cafes we saw throughout London, Sweden and Melbourne. They were all very minimalist, fuss-free and boiled their offerings down to a handful of things. We have eight items on our menu at Tall Short Espresso, but we make those eight items exceptionally well. People come here to enjoy the consistency and simplicity of our service.

    If you knew back then what you know now, is there anything you would’ve done differently? | We would have done things faster and more aggressively, especially after seeing firsthand how well our business has been received in the market. People can come into Tall Short Espresso and please themselves - our menu is simple, our coffee is delicious, the seating is casual and moveable and the prices are fair and reasonable. 

    What’s next in the pipeline for Tall Short? | We'd really love to see the Tall Short banner around town. We've been settled in Paddington for 14 months now and we already have our sights set on a few new locations that we have penciled in. We'd also like to grow the bar side of our business and expand into the local social scene. Stay tuned.

    What is the one piece of advice you would like to pass on to other entrepreneurs? | That's simple - be confident in yourself and believe in your business.

  • Heart of Horses

    Heart of Horses

    Sophie Barrington

    Founder, Archer Creative

    A rider without a horse may be just a man, but that's a sentiment that certainly hasn't stopped Sophie Barrington. At the age of 23, Sophie has launched Archer Creative, a boutique media consultancy that works exclusively with equestrian and rural businesses - despite having never owned a horse of her own.

    What's the story behind your business? | At the tender age of 22, I became closely acquainted with the heart-rendering, humiliating shock of losing the job that I thought was the start of my impressive corporate career. In early 2013, I was feeling proud to be working in the dream role I had been aiming for. And then, the dream died. Reality gradually seeped in as I carried out the infamous task I'd only seen in sitcoms. I gingerly packed up my belongings and stepped out into a rainy day. What a cliché.

    "At the very moment that one opportunity closes, an entire world of new possibilities arise before you."

    You see, my friends at high school told me that I was destined for the United Nations. An academic achiever, I quickly became the journalism student who was more known for her passion for human rights, than by her own name. I hadn't set parameters for failure at the beginning. I didn't think it was even possible. I had finally got to the place where I wanted to be. Or, at least the place I thought I wanted to be. But, what if success doesn't look like what you first imagined? What if the one thing you'd been dreaming about, wasn't the thing that you wanted after all? 

    It is a bittersweet blessing to lose your grip on the job you thought you wanted. A busy weekly schedule is quickly replaced with days that don't have quite the same meaning between 9-5. A once almost hectic purpose is replaced with feelings of disappointment, embarrassment and loss. And your pair of neat black wedges, which were worn almost daily, are put back in their box and placed on the shelf.

    But there is also something profoundly unique in losing the job you thought you wanted. At the very moment that one opportunity closes, an entire world of new possibilities arise before you. It is exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time. In a single moment, a once-defined path becomes blurred. But, what is truly terrifying is that you have been given something rare. An opportunity to re-define, re-evaluate, re-adjust. To achieve dreams which may have otherwise been left behind for another version of yourself. Archer Creative was born out of my very own silver lining.

    How did you develop the brand Archer Creative? | For those who don't yet know me, the image of the archer closely resembles my approach to the world - both to my life and to my work. Drawn from ancient Roman mythology, the archer is embodied by the centaur, half person, half horse. She is renowned for her intellect, clarity of thought and boldness of approach. These are the characteristics that I hope lay the foundation for Archer Creative, both now and into the future. Put simply, the client is the arrow and Archer Creative is their bow. Archer Creative is the first of its kind in Australia. Dedicated to working exclusively with equestrian and rural businesses, Archer Creative exists to help them reach their full potential - to help them strive, expand and perform - through its creative marketing and PR solutions.

    What trait do you think is most important in starting your own business? | Tenacity. 

    An unshakeable belief in yourself that your idea might just work. An enduring sense of purpose that it has to work, because you simply know that it will. Because this is what you choose to do every day. 

    To this day, I have never had the pleasure of owning my own horse. It is still a dream that feels somewhat distant. There is always either too little time or too little money to get in the way. I think the very nature of that word, 'dream', ensures it remains in the realm of improbability, rather than certainty. And that can be applied to your own business. I think it is time to change that. It is time to turn my love affair with horses into my life with them. To chase my dream until it cannot run anymore and it is no longer just a dream. An old boss once told me that my tenacity, at times, works against me. I disagree. Have tenacity.

    What has been your biggest learning curve? | We all have the same 24 hours in a day, it is up to you to choose how you spend it. Managing every aspect of your own business can be difficult - sometimes, it can feel insurmountable. I find the more I look for work to do, the more I find it. But being dedicated to consistently building your business, your brand and your key strategies will serve you well over time. 

    My business is still in its early days, but I can look back and say that, in less than six months of operation, I have achieved more than I ever did in that same amount of time in previous jobs. Running your own business should not take over every moment of your time, but it should be engaged as not just a job that you do, but something you choose to do every day. My next move is working towards more collaborative projects, like this one, developing a network of like-minded creatives for larger projects that come across my desk, and eventually establishing a full service agency. You cannot do it all alone, but you can pick a point and just start.

    What's one thing about yourself that you'd like to share | I was the first and only equestrian captain at my high school who didn't have her own horse. I was perhaps also the only senior student who applied for the position with no competition that year. But what I did was create something unique with that gifted opportunity. I started the riding club. A club for girls, like me, who loved horses but didn't have the pleasure of owning one. My lunch times were often spent with notebooks in hand, at meetings with staff organising trail rides and other equestrian activities. Since those early days of managing a schedule in addition to my schoolwork, I haven't looked back. I enjoy diversity and working with different businesses on different projects. The riding club is still going strong, even today, seven years on... The smiling 17-year-old in me likes to think it's her very own legacy.

  • The Law of the Few

    The Law of the Few

    This is a new photography blog of mine where I intend to take portraits and write stories on a selection of people in our business community. They're the ones you never see coming and seem to make punching above their weight look so simple. They are the Few.

    Inspired by the book The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, the concept of The Law of the Few is based on the Pareto Principle, that 80 percent of the share is actually controlled by 20 percent of the group. The people in this blog are the few amongst us that make stuff happen. 

    They have a story to tell and a tid bit of advice or two to share about how and why they've done what they've done their way to get where they are today. I'll explore the battles and trials that have made them, the passions and dreams that drive them, and the plans and visions that guide them. Through this photo journal, I hope to really find out what separates these sheep from the goats and what we can learn from them.

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