In this edition of AWNY Start Up Stories, entrepreneur Ana Ivkosic from Wattle Cafe speaks to us candidly about the successes and challenges she has faced opening a group of cafes in New York’s evolving coffee scene.
Tell us about Wattle Cafe and what inspired you to begin
Wattle began as a local Murray Hill cafe, serving up Australian vibes. At the beginning of 2017, I opened up my first Wattle Cafe in Murray Hill. Having worked in finance for 20 years I reached a point when I became a mother, when I started to think about the legacy I was creating. I also wanted to get back to my passion of wellness. In my case I saw a need for healthier food options here in New York and more broadly. As healthy food and great coffee are synonymous in Australia, this combination made sense. Ultimately while I have an American daughter, I want for her to have access to the simple but wholesome food I grew up with in Australia.
What has been your ‘Ah Ha’ or ‘I’ve made it in the USA moment’?
Hhhmmmmm, I’m not sure I have reached that point – yet – or perhaps I am the type of person who continues to push further with newer goals.
What have been the hardest lessons in starting a business?
Oh boy. There have been a few challenges, but as cliched as it sounds, these are what have helped shape who I am and where I am going. It is fair to say that I underestimated how much I was taking on starting Wattle Cafe. In hindsight I now see how much we are capable of when we set our minds to it.
Where have you been most successful in marketing your business?
While I had a vision of what type of business I would be creating, the universe has a way of helping you pivot where necessary and I have been surprised (perhaps naively) at how important Instagram (follow us at @wattlecafenyc and use our hashtag #myproofofhappiness) has been for us. Instagram together with our local regular customers are the two most important channels and advocates we have.
Do you have any mentors, and how have people been with sharing information and their networks?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs who I have been fortunate to watch and learn from over the years. Now being in this space myself it is incredible how many people are willing to share their knowledge and lend an ear when needed. I’m fortunate to have come across many supportive peers willing to nurture me on my journey and our expansion into our 3rd location is testament to that.
What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business?
In the early days I used the mantra: “This too shall pass”. It is a comfort to me when things are challenging. There will always be challenges but in my experience, the worst things that happen become our more important and defining moments. Those experiences force us to find solutions and our business, Wattle Cafe, is better for it. Above all, find what it is that makes you light up and be happy as this is what will keep you going during the harder times, that passion will drive you.
Other than yourself, what piece of Australia have you put into your business?
The unintended consequence of our name was that people regularly assume we are a waffle cafe…so we have brought an Australian influence to an iconic American dish…the waffle. Our most famous dish is our cacao waffle avocado smash.
What is next for your business?
Expansion. We are soon to open our third Wattle Cafe near Grand Central Terminal at 45 E 45th St (btwn Madison and Vanderbilt Ave). We are on an incredible journey thanks to the support of the truly remarkable people we have around Wattle.
Do you have a special offer you would like to share with AWNY members?
Get 20% off your order at any Wattle Cafe by quoting AWNY or Australian Women in New York.
Support & connect with Wattle Cafe
There are three Wattle Cafe locations in Manhattan:
- Murray Hill: 489 3rd Ave (btwn 33rd and 34th Sts), Phone 646-918-7042
- East Village: 152 2nd Ave (btwn 9th and 10th Sts)
- Grand Central: 45 E 45th St (btwn Madison and Vanderbilt Ave)
The ultimate guide to Australian Coffee Shops in NYC
Wattle Cafe is included in the AWNY guide to Australian coffee shops in NYC, and amongst a passionate network bringing the Aussie coffee culture to NYC.
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