If you’ve been lucky enough to spend any time in the Byron Shire and love an exceptional eating experience you’ve no doubt had the pleasure of visiting Harvest Cafe. Nestled in the quaint little town of Newrybar in the Byron Bay Hinterland the iconic Harvest Cafe sprawls across three lovingly restored buildings. It’s a relaxed yet indulgent experience, where the attention to detail is considered at every turn. The setting is divine, the produce is fresh, local, sustainable and organic. Each and every time I visit I leaving feeling refreshed and rejuvenated beyond measure, it is a special place where hours can pass with friends. What the team have Harvest have created is a truly unique experience. We were thrilled to be able to catch up with Brooke Hudson, one of the three Owners of Harvest, to hear the journey of what it took to get Harvest where it is today.
OC: WHERE ARE YOU + WHAT’S THE TIME?
BH: In Byron Bay, post yoga, pre -work sitting at the roadhouse with a chai in front of the fire – its 9.26am
OC: TELL US A BIT ABOUT WHAT YOU DO
BH: I’m one of 3 owners at Harvest Café, Deli and Sparrow Coffee. Although coming from a hospitality background – I’m the Operations & Numbers girl of the trio – the crew ‘lovingly” (?)( haha) refer to me as miss money penny J
OC: WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?
BH: Hospitality is a game of passion. When you start out, you don’t think you will do it forever, be it your first job, or to get you through uni while you are studying something else – it either gets into your blood or it doesn’t. I was a lifer from the beginning; from the day I started I knew this is what I wanted to do – even if the Law degree was what was expected and what I had planned – I quickly deferred, changed schools and I ran at my passion.
I thrived on creating experiences for people – knowing I had the ability to turn someone’s day around with a smile and a joke while serving them food serving drinks behind a bar. Now, as an owner and manager of several hospitality businesses that passion is still there but its grown and changed as I have and become about providing a space for creative and passionate professionals to grow and thrive.
This as well as getting the fresh is best message across to our guests, bringing people back to real food – paddock to plate, they way it used to be. Now as owners we get a chance to channel our personal passion to others – It’s a pretty neat feeling having a go at re-educating people that sustainable and local is the best way to live for your health and happiness. Supporting local businesses and your local community. That, and of course – still making people smile and feel good. That is the key to what we do daily. Be it our staff or guests – its all about enhancing someones day, with food or the experience. Just having a hand in making their day the best it can be.
OC: WHAT SACRIFICES HAVE YOU HAD TO MAKE TO BE A SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR?
BH: This one is bit confronting for me, but as a single 35 year old woman, I’ve had to sacrifice relationships to a certain extent. I have worked several jobs at anyone time up until to only 2 years ago in order to achieve my dream of working for myself – and have been busy with different jobs as well as the business that I have missed a lot of time with my loved ones and friends a lot over the years. Special occasions, birthdays, and Christmases (I’ve only had 2 with my family in 14 years!!) Work has always come first. Thankfully I have amazing friends and family who are super understanding, supportive and love me even when I have cancelled plans!
OC: WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
BH: On a work front – I love training and developing staff. To see them grow and to give them skills to be the best they can be. That’s the stuff that really excites me. When I was working at Virgin Airlines it’s something that I really loved, and it made me realise that’s where my love of leadership comes from. Not from being in charge – but grooming others and giving them the confidence to step up and lead. Its tough – teaching financial things to hospitality crew at times (ultimately we got into the industry to avoid that stuff!!) but with those extra financial and operational tools – it gives the guys a competitive edge that sets them in an amazing place to go on an open their own businesses in time, as well as exceeding our expectations.
As they say knowledge is power and I love the moment I see the penny drop, its almost like a cloak of confidence that they put on – It makes me smile from the inside…” ahhhh, boom, they’ve got it.”
Personally – Its experiences and connecting with people. I love adventures, and travel and laughing until I cant stand anymore. I cherish being present enough to be aware of a moment where you wish time would stand still. Those moments where your soul smiles. They make me truly happy. And they happen everyday if you slow down enough to recognise them.
OC: TELL US ABOUT A HIGH POINT IN YOUR CAREER
BH: For me, the high point in my career was being awarded our First Chefs hat Last September. We had been through by far the most difficult year and a half we have had in the business and also for me personally. My health was not good and stress levels at an all time high. To be awarded a HAT when we really didn’t see it coming was an amazing feeling. You dream of being in that category your whole working life in this industry – and honestly maybe we never truly believed we were good enough to get there no mater how hard we were working. So to be recognised in the most difficult year we had had, that was magic for me and for the team. The best reward for everyone’s tireless work.
OC: NOW TELL US ABOUT A LOW POINT
BH: As I mentioned above – nearly losing everything a few years ago. We were young kids when we started out, in our mid 20’s, and didn’t have the nouse we do now – perhaps we were pleasers, not ‘no people’ and we made some decisions with our hearts not our heads that ultimately caught up with us. It was a terrifying time – to think you could loose it all. But the three of us sat there one day – in our garden looking at what we had created, all feeling defeated and not knowing how to get out of it – we looked at each other, and decided collectively – NO WAY, LETS FIGHT – Lets do the impossible. Lets prove them all wrong.
OC: WHAT DID YOU NEED TO KNOW TO GET OUT OF THERE?
BH: A big one for us was that we were united. The three of us with our backs against the wall looking in the same direction and fighting the good fight as a unit. WE are a brilliant team – the three of us work so well together – but like with any relationship and partnership in life there are times you don’t connect. Having this situation happen to us galvanised us as a team, and forced us to become business people and make decisions with our hearts AND our heads.
By looking after ourselves – everyone else would actually be better off. We are a much better, stronger unit because of that – and even when tough times come and go – we look back at that moment and know we can do anything, if we do it together and a single unit.
OC: WHAT’S YOUR COFFEE ORDER?
BH: Haha, this one embarrasses me!!! DECAF Coconut latte (eeeeek! Read recovering ‘stresshead’ anxious Wreck!). Yep, I’m one of those decaf drinkers – its for the greater good of those in my office…. Haha
OC: WHAT KICK ASS DAILY HABITS DO YOU HAVE IN PLACE?
BH: Yoga, EVERY DAY. Its become vital in my life. I try and get to the ocean everyday too, and make it a rule to see at least 4 sunrises or sunsets a week. To MAKE time to actually sit there and watch and BE. Im a much better calmer person for it – but the most important thing about this is after dedicating so much time to everyone else which is what my work is– that hour and a half giving back to me means I give a more authentic version of myself to others. You’ve Gotta fill the tank!!
OC: HOW DO YOU GENERATE NEW IDEA’S?
BH: For me, its Travel. I travel as often as I can, several times a year – I like to get uncomfortable. I think seeing new places and cultures helps you tap into the creative side of yourself. Especially when it is experiences you are looking to create in your business. You are your truest self on the road – raw and real – with our eyes wide open – and that’s when the creative stuff happens.
OC: IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO START YOUR CAREER OVER AGAIN, WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY?
BH: For me, from a career perspective, nothing. Everything that has happened in my life, good or bad has led me to where I am today. Personally, I would tell my former self to not sacrifice ‘me time’ for work. But I guess that’s a catch 22 – when you love what you do – and your work drives you and makes you happy then why stop? I guess suffering burn out at 33 from too much work forced me to get work smarter not harder and ‘let go’ to some extent. But once again, no regrets, I wouldn’t be where I am now if that hadn’t been the case. Its all relative.
OC: IF YOU COULD SHARE ONE PIECE OF BUSINESS ADVICE WITH OTHERS WHAT WOULD IT BE?
BH: Be open in your communication. Under promise and over deliver in all of your business dealings. I’ve learnt if you promise the world to people and it doesn’t happen – things go pear shaped in relationships pretty quickly, especially in a work environment. Not getting carried away in a vision and sharing it with people when you haven’t got a clue on how you are going to get there! People are impatient – business is not!
OC: WHAT DO THE NEXT FEW MONTHS HOLD?
BH: We are opening another Sparrow in a few weeks in North QLD, our first remote store which is an exciting ad challenging change of pace. Looking forward from there we are looking for a few more remote locations before head Offshore with the concept. Its all early days but its got us fired up and excited with the possibilities. As for Harvest – it’s a super exciting time, after 8 years of growth and literally building it from the ground up -the physical vision is almost complete and the team we have in place – is the best we’ve ever had. There is some seriously exciting things coming out of that space right now – and some game changing ideas a foot. The passion in the team at Harvest is next level and we know the next few months everyone will know and see it.
OC: GIVE US THE 3 WORDS OTHER PEOLE WOULD USE TO DESCRIBE YOU
BH: Strong, Loyal, Giving
To find out more about Harvest Cafe, Deli + Sparrow Coffee, and visit their gorgeous cafe , head over to their website >> harvestcafe.com.au