If your answer is that you truly don’t know, take a minute to reflect — what are you passionate about? What moves you? What actions, for or against, move you to think both emotionally and critically? What stirs you?
Good. You got that? Now what the fuck are you doing about it?
Our industry affords us many luxuries, from soap boxes to stand on, to intense and interesting forms of education, the interaction with brilliant and forward-thinking human beings as well as countless opportunities to travel internationally and stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the greats. Maybe it’s the long hours, or the heavy nature of the substance we serve to our guests, but we are almost as prone to pessimism as we are to narcissism. In the inspirational words of Alex Ross, “this is our stage.” If we do our jobs right, and sometimes if we don’t, people will come specifically to where we work to see us. To hear us. To interact with us. To listen to our opinions and take them on board. From this spurs self-importance, but it should be challenging us. We should make sure that what we pass onto others will make an impact.
A year and a half ago I was asked by Australian Bartender (in their 2014 Women’s Issue) what my perceived issues as a woman in the industry were, and just as I ask you similarly now, I was asked what I think could be done about it. I answered as I always do: with more questions.
“Where are the female competitions such as Speed Rack? Where are the ‘women in the industry’ lunches? Where are the networks to encourage and open the lines of communication between the women in the industry? The women that are a part of this industry are strong, supportive, hard working women who if given more of an opportunity to assist and encourage their peers they would do so full force. A push in the right direction by like-minded peers will help to speed up the process and close the still apparent gap.”
It took over a year, several frustrating interactions with the industry, a realisation that I had become very self absorbed and stumbling upon my original article to realise that I should be doing more. With so much time on my hands I had lent myself to unnecessarily drinking copious amounts of booze, caring about what everyone thought about me to the point of self-destruction, and legitimately getting tired of hearing myself complain. I simply couldn’t wait for changes to occur; I needed to be the change.
In my career, I have surrounded myself with those that boast both dynamic and enlightened minds. Those who see the bigger picture, and who nurture others to bring out the best in them. I believe I would have always got where I was going to go but it was made a hell of a lot easier thanks to mentors, friends, peers and the family we call hospitality. Two months ago I launched Coleman’s Academy. CA is a not for profit organisation that focuses on empowering and inspiring women in our industry. It cultivates an environment for the advancement and mentoring of women as bartenders, brand ambassadors, bar and business owners — the lot. And simply, at the end of the day, it is an environment for women to talk and meet like-minded females.
If I had the time, and you had the patience, I would dedicate another page to the women and men of this industry who are already paving the way, thinking outside of the box and doing revolutionary things. You don’t have to look far and what’s great is that the biggest impacts were created with the smallest actions. We have more influence than we realise, as individuals and as an industry. We affect the environment, we personally shift the social threads of our cities, we have the mobility and force to change government legislation and yet we doubt ourselves or maybe we become distracted by shiny toys and heavy hangovers. Maybe we’re just being lazy. And so we do nothing. We wait for the next person to come along and be the change. You are the change. Now get moving.