As part of our celebration of International Women’s Day 2020 we’ve complied the list of our Sydney trailblazers, who are making a cultural impact on Sydney’s social and lifestyle scene.

We also want to give a huge shout out to those that are carving their path and navigating their way towards a future they imagined.

Melinda Janiszewski: MD – Cork and Canvas 

How did you come up with the idea?
I used to live in the US before I moved to Australia in 2012 and the concept was already well established. I would attend paint and sip sessions with my friends and family all the time. When researching in 2011 before I moved to Australia, I noticed the concept didn’t exist and I saw this as my opportunity to establish the concept in Australia and share my love of art and being creative.

How difficult has it been to scale your business
When I originally started in 2012, I opened a small studio in Moonee Ponds, Melbourne. As with any new start-up, it wasn’t an easy feat. I would attend every and any networking event to get the word out about who we are and what we do. From there we scaled up the studios a few times before permanently moving to Clarendon Street in South Melbourne. The new, more central location allowed the business to grow more rapidly and we quickly went to 7 days a week with public sessions, private parties and offsites too. In 2018 we moved to Sydney and opened our first NSW studio on Oxford St. From here Cork and Canvas exploded as we quickly opened a second location in Crows Nest in the same year. I have an amazing team who work tirelessly behind the scenes to grow the business with me, so in saying that, If you have the right team, anything is possible.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
I love what I do, sharing my passion for art and being creative with other people brings me so much joy so I will still be doing this. As for the business, we’ll continue to be the industry leader in the paint and sip market. We’ll continue to innovate and provide unique experiences like Champainting in luxury, fully immersive spaces like WILDLIFE Sydney Zoo, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium and Madame Tussauds. There’s a lot of big things planned so stay tuned!

What is essential to ensure you stand out against your competitors?
I would have to say originality! We work tirelessly to come up with new exciting concepts, paintings and experiences for our guests. We like to keep it fresh and new so our guests want to come back and try something new.

What’s your fave piece of artwork and why?
I have two favourites, Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Memory & Picasso’s Three Musicians. Since I was a child, I’ve always loved the mystery behind these incredible masterpieces and they taught me that there are stories behind the artwork and hidden meanings.

Where’s your fave place for a glass of wine in Sydney and why?
The Grounds of Alexandria and The potting shed for sure. I love it when they transform the space into a magical getaway!

What is the one takeaway you’d like your customers to walk away with after experiencing Cork and Canvas?
I want everyone to walk away having forgotten all their problems and worries. To have had a moment to turn off their brain and feel like a kid again while creating memories with the special people in their lives.

Anything else you’d like to add?
If you are reading this and haven’t yet tried a Cork and Canvas paint and sip session, we’d love to see you! 🙂

We also want to give a huge shout out to those that are carving their path and navigating their way towards a future they imagined.

Rebecca Gibbs: MD –  We Are Example

Leading brand, marketing and PR agency, founded three years ago. Clients include Merivale, Diageo, Accor Hotels and Lost Paradise, to name a few.

What was your motivation to start your own agency? To have the flexibility and freedom to create something on my own terms, with people I respect and admire.

How difficult has it been to scale your business?We grew organically from 2-17 in three years. This was initially in response to client demands – as the work came in, we hire appropriately to service it. And whilst this worked well at beginning, we quickly realised that if we wanted to create a sustainable model of operations, we needed to invest in people who would allow us to grow more strategically, not reactively. We’re now constantly reviewing how we are working as a team so that we know exactly what resource is needed and when.

Where do you see yourself in 5 year’s time? Leading our happy, inspired team, while navigating the joys and challenges of being a mum.

What is essential to ensure you stand out against your competitors? A very clear and solidified purpose – what you stand for, believe in and want to achieve.

Where’s your fave place for a drink in Sydney and why? Right now, it is Una Mas at Coogee Pavilion – sitting by the big bay window at dusk, with wine in hand and the seabreeze drifting in. Heaven.

What is the one takeaway you’d like your clients to walk away with? That they think deeply about the promises they make to their customers and what they need to do to ensure their product or service has cultural value – i.e, a story worth telling, a contribution worth talking about or a change worth pursuing.

What advice do you have for fellow entrepreneurs? You don’t always have to be the smartest person in the room, so surround yourself with people who can challenge you in the right way. Take risks, but put in the work to ensure the right steps are in place to make them as fail-proof as possible. Be inspired by what other people are doing, but don’t pit yourself against them.

Mint Jongsatien & Chom: Owners Boon Table

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
CHOM: My name is I’m Chom Phunrat. We are the co-founders of Boon Table.
MINT: My name is Mint Jongsatien. Boon Table is a destination for hearty food with an Asian-twist. Our mission is to connect people with wholesome healthy food regardless of their busy lifestyle.

How did you get started, why do you think you chose this career path?
CHOM: We both grew up overseas and moved to Sydney to study and work in a private design practice, specialised in hospitality design and brand identity. For the past few years, we have helped many business owners to accomplish their goal in the food business area.
One day we thought to ourselves, why don’t we create something that we love with the skillset that we are good at?
MINT: The inspiration to start the business came from the mixture of practicality, creativity and healthy lifestyle. Our interest in healthy food started at a young age. We love going to the organic café to chill and bounce the ideas. That lifestyle has become our second nature and then we just rolled up our sleeves and did it.
CHOM: And here we are an Asian-inspired healthy takeaway shop which answered everything that we needed “Healthy, great food, quicker than home-cooked, affordable yet worth the value”.
MINT: This journey has grown for a year and hospitality for us has become our natural progression professionally. We can’t imagine ourselves doing anything else now.

What do you feel was the greatest challenge in your journey?
CHOM: Well, a magic pill doesn’t exist. Boon Table is definitely our greatest challenge, I would say. The hospitality-entrepreneurial world is not a glamorous path. We were entering a field that we had barely any experience in and we realised that, there are a lot more aspects for food business owners to take into account.
MINT: Just practical and creativity skills wouldn’t be sufficient to shape the business. The path involved different type of skillsets. There were some hiccups and road bumps along the way. For us to overcome this challenge we needed to be really open-minded. Open-minded to explore, dare to fail, and be brave to stand up to improve yourself beyond the limit. We just had to trust ourselves and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Where do you find your inspiration? What keeps you going every day?
MINT: What keeps us going every day is first and foremost our family. They are the reason for our existence. Also, a clear goal and vision of seeing people eat healthier and to have balance in their diet especially in a busy schedule and fast lifestyle.
CHOM: We find inspirations in everyday through our daily routines, and most importantly loving what we do and being passionate about the industry are things that keep us going every day.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
MINT: For me it’s an ongoing reminder of women’s empowerment and an opportunity to honour the women who worked courageously to seal the gender gap over centuries. I found this very important – to maintain a gender parity mindset and empower girls and women to follow their dream.
CHOM: The meaning of International Women’s Day for me is a celebration of women and their achievements and contributions to society. It’s also a day to reflect on how far we have come towards achieving balance and advancing the quality of life, not only for women, but for all human beings.

Looking to the future, what do you hope for women in your industry? How do you see this evolving in the future?
MINT: I believe that food is the universal language. There is no gender to classify what is good food, what is good service. For centuries, women have been supporting and nurturing society. We are always skilful, strong and kind. In the present, I’m glad to see women are able to play many great influential roles in hospitality.
CHOM: In the future, I wish to see more women supporting each other to grow a sisterhood; I would love to see the empowerment of women that results in the overall development of the hospitality industry, society, and economic activities.

Mint& Chom, you both work together closely every day. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the importance of women supporting other women. How do you find ways to support each other?
CHOM: I always say a woman alone has power, but women together we have impact. Women’s empowerment is so powerful. For young women working in an entrepreneurial world, it’s critical to feel supported. For us, we both want each other to be successful in the workplace and in our personal lives so we always look for the opportunities to elevate each other whenever we can. We often hear from our friends, “wow, you’re so lucky to have each other” and I totally agree with them.
MINT: I’m so lucky to have my best friend working along my side pursuing the same goal. We are always raising each other up with optimism, communication, respect and trust. I feel very blessed and have fun along our journey.


About The Author

Lisa Hollinshead
Editor & Director

Boss lady over here at Social 101. Lover of all things that inspire creativity, individuality and happiness! Former party gal, now mama to a beautiful baby boy!

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