A Q&A with SmartCompany’s new columnist: Frankly Speaking’s Chryssie Swarbrick

Chryssie Swarbrick

Small business owner Chryssie Swarbrick. Source: supplied.

SmartCompany exists to champion Australian small businesses and so we’re thrilled to be collaborating with Melbourne small business owner Chryssie Swarbrick to take readers behind the scenes as she launches her new cafe, Two Franks, with her business partners, Angie and Kon Markou.

The first instalment of Frankly Speaking: Inside the making of a new business is available here.

Keep reading to learn more about Chryssie and the very personal inspiration behind the new business.

Tell us a little about yourself and the businesses you run.

My background is in marketing and public relations, and until the start of last year I was working at a local tech startup that focused on travel and discovery.

I’m a mum to two kids, and like most working mums, I needed a little more flexibility and the ability to choose my own hours. I set up my own freelance business, Studio Goldie, at the start of last year, where I help small businesses with their content and digital marketing.

Around the same time, my sister started up Damsel Store, a retail space in North Melbourne that supports and stocks local small Australian makers and creators, and I’ve come onboard to that. We just recently opened our second space in Carlton, where we have a bit more room to support the Australian brands we love.

The last ball I have in the air is a passion project my husband and I have called Goldie & Bee, where we draw commissioned building portraits and spots around Australia that we love. This was something that came out of the depths of Melbourne’s first lockdown and has been a real source of joy for us.

With all that going on, you could definitely say I love small business!

Why are you opening a cafe, and why now?

It’s something I’ve always had in the back of my mind. I love food, I love cooking and I come from a culture that loves hosting and being hospitable.

It’s also in my blood — my pappou had a cafe in Yarraville in the 70s and was an excellent cook.

It was just him in the kitchen on his own, cooking up to 35 different dishes a day.

But as for the “why now?”, I think it’s a mix of an unmissable opportunity and an emboldened spirit.

The last few years have been so tough and really showed that the world as we know it can change in an instant.

I know for my sister and me, we have really come out of it with a “if not now, when?” sort of attitude.

There’s a very special family connection too. Can you share more?

This is at the very core of “why now”! My sister and I grew up across the street from a row of old shops, in my pappou’s old house and the house where our parents still live now.

We spent our childhood crossing the busy road to get to the milk bar, hearing the sound of the bell on the butcher’s door through our bedroom window and watching people leave the wool shop, their arms laden with yarn.

We have always thought that the one thing our street was missing was a space where the community could come together.

One by one, the shops have all disappeared and in January, the remaining one came up for lease. I think we wouldn’t have been able to visit our parents ever again if someone else had gotten their hands on it.


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A post shared by Two Franks (@twofrankscoburg)

What’s the story behind the name of your cafe, Two Franks?

I’ll be telling you all about that in an upcoming article — keep your eyes peeled!

What can readers expect from your Frankly Speaking column?

As someone who has zero experience in opening a cafe, who has decided to open a business in a rather tumultuous economic and social time, I’m hoping to show what the realities are behind opening your own small business.

What are the challenges? How do we find success? How can bureaucracy and our communities better support small business so it can flourish? How do you build a brand and a following from the ground up?

At the very least, I am looking forward to documenting what is a very special and sentimental project for me.

And where can readers find you and Two Franks, both online and in real life?

Two Franks will open soon at 202 Reynard Street, Coburg.

On Instagram you can follow all our behind-the-scenes adventures for the cafe at @twofrankscoburg, our retail space at @thedamselstore, our drawings at @goldieandbee and my own musings at @chasingchryssie.

If you’re more wordy you can find me on Twitter as @chryssieswarbs.


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