Mel Homewood was our 2020 AusMumpreneur WA-SA Sustainability Business gold award winner. Mel is a Chef of 29 years and owner of The Alkaline Café Albany WA. The Alkaline Cafe is one of 3 Coeliac Accredited Café’s in WA and the only GF & Vegan Café specializing in Sustainability and Catering for people with Allergies and Intolerances.
When did you start your business?
What was the inspiration behind starting this business?
I once weighed 150kg, I absolutely loved learning to cook the traditional French way but all the goods things were literally making me so unhealthy, so I started experimenting with health/wholefoods to re-create the classics. After nailing so many recipes I started my own Catering company to help cater for all the allergy intolerant folk. Making people happy with food is my passion and new found purpose. With myself being gluten intolerant and my son being dairy intolerant my mission was to nail a new found way of cheffing.
What are you most excited about in your business?
Being Coeliac Accredited puts huge beaming smiles on the faces of Coeliac, knowing that they can eat what ever they want makes me happy! And also being a Vegan Café makes the animal lovers ecstatic as well. Making a broad range of people with full bellies happy fuels me daily, no matter how tired I get!
What has been the most challenging thing about starting your business?
Being time poor, I have 2 teenagers, 2 dogs and one gorgeous hubby who see my passion and the toll it takes on me and the time it takes away from them, and that was before Covid! Since the world dramatically changed I have found myself working 14 plus hour days nonstop during the week but balancing it out with making a huge decision to close on the weekends in recent months, this has been physically exhausting as I had spinal surgery mid 2019 and was suppose to rest for 3 months but only had 3 weeks off due to my growing business and no staff. I do all my own Menu writing as well as all social media and marketing and I am chef, customer service, waitress, dishwasher come toilet cleaner most days. I have also designed the complete café myself and change it regularly, in my next life I will be a stylist.
What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a business?
Nothing worth it ever comes easy, preparation and organization are 100% Key to my success. I am up at 5am, Lunches & Dogs fed, Marketing and ordering done to be at work by 6am to Prep then race home to take kids to school, then back to work where I literally run all day to 3pm school pick up and back to work to prep, clean, water plants, retock retail and do end of day reconciliations and be home by 6pm-ish (some days later) to cook dinner, do washing, clean house, spend time with kids and catch up on social media and give hubby a tad of attention, TIME MANAGEMENT is a must for me!
Why did you enter the AusMumpreneur Awards?
I was nominated by a fellow Boss Mum who I never realized admired my courage and strength, we are great friends now ❤
What did you enjoy the most about being part of the awards?
The recognition from strangers was so uplifting, and inspired me to carry on even on the toughest of days, my 3 awards from last year sit pride of place as you walk in my Café, along with winning Business Person of the Year 2020.
What surprised you most about the awards?
How extremely well it was all done via Zoom! Being a chef I am not very intelligent when it comes to Modern Technology so I found it rather amazingly stress free and so organized considering the circumstances.
How did the awards help you in your business?
Connections with other Mumma’s. My mental health improved knowing that I was being recognized even on the days you think you are not being seen or heard. After AusMum Awards last year I then went on to win Business Person of the Year with the Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industries, A LOT has happened physically and mentally and emotionally since owning my business so the recognition is beyond fabulous and it makes me want to up my game everyday and inspires me to be better daily.
What advice would you give to others mums thinking about entering the awards?
If you work hard on your passion and your purpose and believe in yourself and need some lady lifting do it! You have nothing to lose! Just connecting with other Boss Mums helped me make new friends and a support network is winning in itself.
What has been the best thing about starting your own business?
Pursing the passion I have had for cooking since I was 16. To break the chains of unhealthy eating and surprise people that being gluten free and vegan is not scary! Making my customers comfortable and happy is by far the best thing!
What’s happening next in your business?
I am writing a Book! (when I finally have time) but putting the intention out there!
What are your big plans for the future?
Writing my book, expanding my Café to other regions of WA, and one day retiring as a very happy Chef.
SAVE THE DATE – 2021 AUSMUMPRENEUR AWARDS!
Nominations open Monday 3 May 2021.
AusMumpreneur Awards Nights 8-10 September 2021
Conference and Awards Presentation 14-16 September 2021.
>> Join the Waitlist here <<