This week, we’d like you to meet Worksmither Hannah Colman, Co-Founder and General manager of Scarf, an organisation that believes Hospitality can transform lives. Hannah has worked in restaurants for over 10 years, with a passion for the social side of hospitality. She firmly believes in the power of social enterprise to allow young people to gain skills, confidence and connections needed to break into employment.
At Worksmith, we firmly believe in Hannah!
With Scarf's 10 year anniversary coming up next year, let's look back to where it all began. What was the lightbulb moment that inspired you to start Scarf.
HC: Myself and Jess (Scarf's other co-founder) had worked in hospitality for many years and started meeting young people from refugee backgrounds through some volunteering. We realised there were huge inequities when it came to job opportunities - these young people were keen and capable yet they were locked out of employment because of circumstances beyond their control. We thought that was pretty unfair and we had a strong feeling that the hospitality industry could be a key player in changing this.
Was a career in hospitality something that you had always leaned towards? Was it a definite? Or something you fell in to?
HC: Most of my family are a bit food-crazed; my mum and aunt ran a catering business in the 1980s and my dad and step mum ran a cafe in the 2000s so I've always been surrounded by good food! I think as soon as I worked my first function as a teenager I was pretty hooked on the service element of hospitality. When I finished school I delved into work, firstly in a kids play centre, then into a cafe, and then a combination of restaurant, bar and function work which I really loved.
What do you love most, and what is the biggest challenge about running a hospitality business?
HC: I love the way hospitality creates connections. A challenge is trying to make sure every diner's experience is top-notch. This is a simple and obvious goal but there are lots of things that can make it challenging to deliver on.
Where do you see the biggest changes in hospitality happening in the next five years?
HC: I think we'll continue to see the hospitality industry diversifying and reflecting the social change that's happening in the world. Hospitality-based social enterprises like Free to Feed, STREAT, Kinfolk, Sibling, Social Food Project and Merchant Road are all inspiring and have loyal followings for good reason! Hospitality can be transformative and I hope we see more traditional hospitality businesses shifting their focus to social change as well as quality experience.
What project(s) does Scarf currently have in the works?
HC: We're just about to launch our 30th Scarf program, Spring Scarf ཏ at Garden State Hotel in the CBD. We'll be running Scarf Dinners there every Tuesday from 1 October - 26 November with a new group of trainees and mentors. Garden State is an incredible business; they've run training sessions and tours for Scarf trainees, supported us with fundraising, multiple GSH staff have mentored in our programs, and to date, the venue has hired FIVE Scarf graduates which we are absolutely stoked about.
Heaps of detail about the season and link to bookings is here. What is your ultimate goal for Scarf?
HC: To stay true to our mission and why we began in the first place. In our 2019 - 2022 Strategic Plan we've made a commitment to nourishing and supporting our trainees, and improving the Scarf experience and outcomes for trainees and graduates. This is at the top of our list of strategic goals. No matter what form or shape Scarf takes in the future, I want to make sure we stay true to working with every trainee on an individual level and ensuring the program is valuable for them.
Describe Scarf in five words.
HC: Supportive, nourishing, empowering, impactful, delicious.
Describe Worksmith in five words
HC: Positive, practical, community, innovative, friendly.
Your favourite thing about being a part of the Worksmith community / working at Worksmith?
HC: The connections and the generosity of the Worksmith community. We met Teresa from Stroh and Brent and Jonny from PosBoss here, and both businesses are now Scarf sponsors helping us to achieve our mission. Four Pillars have been our gin sponsor for a couple of years as well! I also love the never-ending stream of Five Senses coffee (and Five Senses run awesome training for Scarf trainees too, which we love them for!)