From the big smoke to pretty little lattes
Moving from a big city to a small town of 6,000 people to buy a cafe isn’t what most 20-somethings are doing. In fact, Michaela Corona, is an immensely brave entrepreneur.
Thanks to some persuading from her parents and some soul-searching, the Sydney Strata Manager decided she wanted a change of scenery – so, she bought a cafe in Narrandera in the Riverina!
“Working in Strata Management was a very intense environment all the time, which started to affect me very negatively. My parents have lived here since August 2018 and tried to convince me to move… My motivation came from my entrepreneurial spark that told me “you want to work for yourself,” said Michaela.
“It wasn’t until Christmas 2020 where I was down the south coast celebrating with my family and my partner’s family, that I realised the city life wasn’t for me. My job was deteriorating more of my life than I liked to admit and I needed the challenge to experience growth – which is something I’m constantly seeking every day of my life. I said to dad ‘Let’s do it! I’m naming the cafe Pretty Little Lattes’; mum responded ‘That’s cute!’”.
Without any real experience, that’s what she did! She jumped ‘all in’ on the opportunity to run her own shop, setting up Pretty Little Lattes in 2021 after finding an affordable retail space in town.
Handing in her resignation to her boss, whom she highly respected, was a terrifying task but one that allowed her to dive into the planning phases.
“I worked my one month’s notice and in the midst of working – planned renovations, layout, logos, colour pallets, aesthetic and setting up a business plan, speaking with lawyers, hiring staff etc. Thinking back now, all I can think is “What the heck? How brave of a 22-year-old to leave her life behind to open a business in a small town where not a single soul knows your name”. I think that daily. I definitely forget how much I really have achieved at such a young age!”
Originally from South Africa, Michaela grew up with a taste of country living – riding quads and swimming in dams. But nothing prepared her for her entrepreneurial journey. Renovating the space and being the ‘new coffee shop girl’ in town, has been the hardest yet most rewarding time of her life.
“Work is hard, challenging, exciting and all the emotions in between. I’ve always told the team that I’m easy going but I’m fair. Working 7 days a week is so much more physically demanding than I ever thought, being tired but still the friendly, happy barista that everyone has come to know, is tough when all I want to do is catch up on 5 month’s of sleep,” she admitted.
“I was an emotional mess when we opened, I took the criticism constructively and tried each day to be better than the day before. I’ve now gotten to know our regulars on a first-name basis, and know that this customer wants their coffee at 75 degrees to be precise with 1.5 coffee shots and one sugar. Don’t forget the skinny milk!”
Despite the self-pride she feels, Michaele admits it’s been hard to find time for herself and lose the title of “the girl from Pretty Little Lattes.
“I joined the local netball club as a way of staying fit, meeting people of the same age and having a reason to get away from the cafe. If I’m not at netball, I’m usually at the gym. Life is the opposite to how it was in Sydney and the adjustment is still a work in progress,” she maturely acknowledges.
But despite the hard work, long hours, lack of sleep and physical challenges, Michaela believes it’s been worth it and encourages people, especially younger generations, to explore a country change.
“Honestly, just do it. If you feel like you need a change in your life; job, lifestyle, career, just do it. It’s hard, don’t get me wrong. But just do it. Your growth on a personal level is an immense amount, you realise what is important in your life and you get a better idea of where you see yourself in five – ten years from now. You sit there and you’re in disbelief, like ‘Wow, I did that’. It’s definitely something I’m still processing 5 months after the fact. I learned to be okay with being alone, I’m more independent, responsible and I like who I am becoming.”
Follow Michaela’s journey!
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