Just-opened Crafted Culture café champions migrant women and their cuisine | Richmond cafe’s

Sometimes, all we need is that one chance to change our lives.

The not-for-profit enterprise SisterWorks is all about chances that change lives, empowering women migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers through cultural crafts, cups of coffee, and diverse cuisines.

Nine women in an English class

“Nine years ago, SisterWorks began when nine migrant and refugee women who met in an English class who said to each other, ‘Let’s change our lives. Let’s not wait for something to happen. Let’s make our own path.’ So, they pooled their money together and created whatever they knew they could,” SisterWorks CEO Ifrin Fittock shares.

Whatever they could create were their own cultural crafts.

The women sold crafts in weekend markets and from there connected with other migrant women who were still finding their place in Australia.

“Here in Victoria, 52% of households speak a second language. Migrants are part of us, an important part of the fabric of our society, so it was important for us to further our cause.

“Our group was expanding. SisterWorks was formalized as an enterprise in May 2013, operating first in community centers until we could afford to get out own space.”

Now operating out of their own space, the group began creating a line of SisterWorks craft products and training migrant women to make them.

“We hired and paid some of the women to become our production contractors.

“We educate them in the financial aspects of living in Australia – from what is a fair salary, to what superannuation is. It’s an important way of empowering them and helping support their social and economic participation in this new country they now call home.”

Smiles and service

From creating crafts, the group has now branched out to training women in the hospitality industry, supporting them when it comes barista training, food handling and looking for job opportunities with their partners.

“A lot of the women wanted to get cafe training experience, so that’s how Crafted Culture, came about.”

Sisterworks’ Richmond café, Crafted Culture, is located right beside the group’s crafts store.

“We wanted to give the women their first go, their first job opportunity here in Australia. We want them to experience a few months with us until they feel confident to branch out, then we connect them with our partners.”

While good coffee is a prerequisite to operating a café, Fittock shares that an instinctive leaning towards service is crucial in hospitality.

“I know this sounds cliché, but the women bring smiles and warmth to the café. They may not realize it, but customer service is embedded in their minds.

“I don’t mean this in a bad way at all – many of them come from cultures where they serve – serve the family, elders, neighbors and guests who come to their homes. It’s instilled in them to be accommodating.”

Crafts, coffee, and connection

For the group, being accommodating also means allowing people into their cohort’s rich and diverse culture and cuisines.

“From our last count, we have 105 nationalities that have come through our doors. You can imagine our food culture is rich.

“We incorporate the jams, sauces, and food products from our SisterWorks line into our menu. These products are based on the women’s recipes, on food they grew up with.

“So, you’ll find eggplant pickles and Congolese relish in our wraps and toasties. We even have a wrap that has cheese, egg and raspberry jam. It sounds a bit odd, but Koreans actually like eating it that way.”

Taking into consideration the “hip and funky” neighborhood of Richmond, Fittock shares that they believed the menu would go over well with the community.

“We said, ‘Let’s be brave. Let’s be bold.’ Let’s follow how other people around the world eat these foods.”

Crafted Culture

104 Bridge Road, Richmond VIC 3121

Monday – Friday 7.30am – 3pm

Love the story? Follow the author here: Instagram @nikki.ag.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button