SOPHIE Seers didn't plan to start a doughnut business in Horsham. It just happened.
Seers bakehouse has been open for drive-through only for the past week, making use of the eye-catching green building on Dimboola Road that used to be a Red Rooster and an Oliver's Real Food store.
It's not the first food venture she's started in the city, and she hopes it won't be the last.
Mrs Seers and partner Chris began Seers Smokehouse at the top of Firebrace Street a year ago this month. Before the two stores Mrs Seers was a cake and catering businesses.
"We added doughnuts at the Smokehouse around April, and they got so popular we were thinking 'What the hell? We should open up a doughnut shop!'," she said.
"Then we thought why not do a bakery with pies, sausage rolls and sandwiches?
"We were looking at renting a place up at Target (in the Wilson Street gateway complex), but then I was lying in bed one night and went 'Oh my god, how about a drive-through bakery?!'. I wanted to wake up Chris at four in the morning to listen to my idea."
After Chris woke up (well-rested), he was right behind the idea.
"Bakeries are my favourite thing: If I go to a new town, I hunt down a bakery, so I've always wanted to own one, I guess," Mrs Seers said.
"We already know everyone travels to Ballarat and Melbourne to get doughnuts, and I want to bring them here. My vision for Seers is to have everything that people travel there for here, all in one shop."
Mrs Seers said the couple had learned an important lesson about starting a new store from the smokehouse.
"At the start it was so hectic: When we first opened up the smokehouse we stuffed up and put too many staff on, when we weren't even making that much money," she said.
"So then Chris and I ran the smokehouse between us with no staff to help us pick up again. I want to take it easy here and not have ten people on. There are a few too many people we've found, so I've had to ask people to leave early or not come in on certain days. I'll need six people all day when we can do eat-in."
The bakehouse employs six workers, and Sophie and Chris have also recently hired workers at the smokehouse.
One of the new workers, Tamlyn Janetzki, has returned to the workforce after being laid off from her job at a Horsham Plaza retailer in the first wave of stage three restrictions.
"They couldn't keep everyone on, so I was one of the unlucky ones that got told I didn't have a position anymore," she said.
"This job means I can take my kids to places and do things with them, and buy necessities."
Ms Janetzki has this advice for people that are out of work due to the pandemic.
"Honestly, I'd just say people should put themselves out there and try and find a job," she said.
"It doesn't necessarily need to be full-time: Just take it easy and don't stress."
Mrs Seers says she hopes to open the indoor and outdoor dining areas in the next few weeks, as hospitality restrictions ease.
And the bright green colour scheme? Mrs Seers says that's staying.
"Everyone says they thought I'd change the green, but I love it," she said.
"We are already thinking about our third hospitality business in Horsham."
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