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Robyn Hamilton

Calliope, Central Queensland (including Mackay/ Isaac/ Whitsunday)

Opening a coffee shop in a small town during an economic downturn wasn't going to be an easy undertaking for Robyn Hamilton. Now a thriving cafe, Coffee Ink provides an opportunity for the Calliope community to come together and celebrate good food, coffee and people.

My name is Robyn Hamilton, I'm with Coffee Ink and we're in Calliope in Central Queensland.

Best way to learn about my line of work is to do some training in commercial cookery and speciality coffee.

I have 7 employees, 1 of my employees is a registered trainee who has almost completed her cert 3 in retail supervision.

My management style has definitely changed a lot in the 2 years that I've had the shop. In the beginning, I worked 7 days a week, open 'til close and micromanaged everything and now I'm really focussing on training people to supervise and manage all aspects of the business so I can focus on marketing Coffee Ink.

It's tempting sometimes to consider going back to a secure salary paying job but the buzz that you get from seeing something you've created yourself, from your own ideas and your own hard work is pretty hard to beat.

When Robyn Hamilton resigned from her job as a child youth mental health clinician to open Coffee Ink in Calliope, a large part of her professional social work background went into the new venture. Despite the tough times the region has experienced, Coffee Ink remains at the heart of the Calliope community. With its proximity to the industrial centre of Gladstone, the small town of Calliope has suffered from the mining downturn and rebuilding business in the economic climate was not easy. Robyn admits it has been a challenge to stay positive in such a tough environment. Despite this, she has created an atmosphere at Coffee Ink where people come to relax and feel part of a vibrant, caring community.

Robyn's career has come full circle and establishing a hospitality business was not completely random. She began training as chef in 1986 and then worked in the industry for 10 years before completing her social work studies in 1996. Back then, she never thought she would return to hot kitchens, the grind of split shifts and weekend work. She now combines her love of food, coffee and people at Coffee Ink and the local community have supported her efforts.

Robyn's efforts go beyond just great food and coffee – she is fully immersed in the Calliope community. She gives back to the community by fundraising for the local primary school, showcasing and promoting local artists and providing quality training and employment for local youth. Robyn has also established a monthly market in the local shopping centre. It is a chance for the community to come together and support local businesses, and the community has shown they appreciate Robyn's enthusiasm and dedication.

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