Business owner being enthused at Infused

Opening a cafe during an economic downturn is a tough business, but for Sharon Macarthy it was about fulfilling a promise to herself.

Ms Macarthy opened Infused Cafe in Stoke 2 1/2 years ago, proving to herself and others that she could make her dream happen.

After working in the restaurant business with her former husband in Dunedin, she returned to Nelson with her two young boys 10 years ago at a low ebb after the marriage broke up.

Emotionally drained and lacking confidence, she had to push herself to get back into the workforce, first as a casual worker at Richmond's Body Shop before working her way up to become manager.

She had previously looked at starting a cafe eight years ago but did not feel ready, so when the site came up for lease again, she jumped at the opportunity.

Taking a free small business course through the Barbican training centre had given her valuable skills and knowledge, but taking the plunge into owning her own cafe was still "a huge step", she said.

Opening in the middle of a recession meant it had been tough, but it was "always a vision and a passion" of hers to open a cafe. "I thought, `Right, I've got to do it'."

The cafe serves Asian-infused Greek wraps, bringing a new twist to the area's dining options, which was a key to her starting the business.

Even with previous experience in the food industry, Mrs Macarthy said she was always learning.

She had encountered a few hurdles, and some people's manner towards women was one of them. "Just the way they talk to you."

She did not let that stop her, however, and she planned to expand the business.

Ms Macarthy looked for new ways to "keep ahead of the recession", and started opening on Friday and Saturday nights to serve takeaway wraps and provide a place for people to go in the evening and have a coffee.

If she had opened the cafe in Christchurch, Wellington or Auckland, it would be full all the time, she said.

However, Nelson was "home" and the community had been supportive.

Ms Macarthy needed that support last year when her 14-year-old son, Miller, underwent surgery for a brain tumour that fortunately turned out to be benign. Her parents' Christchurch home was also red-zoned after the Canterbury earthquakes.

She said the local support allowed her to "drop everything" and drive to Christchurch after both big shakes.

She said she tried to support other businesses in the community, and allowed customers to bring in food from the bakery next door to have with their coffee, and displayed local artworks, which were for sale.

Businesses needed to support each other in a recession, she said. Despite the downturn, she was managing to keep her head above water.

Ms Macarthy said she believed having passion and drive was important. "You've got to enjoy it."

She hoped her experience eould empower other women, particularly those who had left relationships, to follow their passion. "Go for your dream."

The Nelson Mail