Kitchen/Cafe Coordinator at A Pot of Courage
Tell us a little about your story and your purpose.
I’m from a small town in Kota Tinggi, Malaysia.
I migrated to Australia. I am the Kitchen/Cafe Coordinator at A Pot of Courage Inc in Ballarat. In my early 20s, I graduated with a Photography Degree, and thought I would become a fashion photographer. I ended up in the banking industry, but that wasn’t my passion.
So I’ve spent the past few years basically searching for myself. Although I had never considered myself to be a “baker”, I decided to learn from scratch, and set up my own business. I was selling “Lilly Love Cakes” through Farmers Markets. I loved the idea of having “freedom”, as my own boss – but also had to learn very fast about the responsibilities and sacrifices that go along with that!
I put a lot of time into planning and building my business, that was thriving before COVID hit in 2020. I felt devastated, and was battling with the anxiety around my income coming to a halt, despite all of my hard work.
I had met Shiree Pilkinton, the Co-ordinator at A Pot of Courage. She was truly like a saviour at that time. Together we put a covid-response plan together to shift to online orders and deliveries – delicious dinner and dessert packs from our various cultural backgrounds going out to homes across Ballarat during the pandemic. Our plan was successful. Through overcoming that covid bump in the road, we were actually able to build our customer-base and raise our profile. By the time we could safely open the café doors again, many more people knew of us, and what we were doing.
Starting again can be so damn hard. Starting a new story on a blank canvas. Sometimes there’s beauty in turning Plan A into Plan B.
My purpose in my life and professionally, is to bring this region great food, and to offer kindness and support to women in need through employment and training. I want to create a big, amazing dream to change the world.
Who are the women that have made the biggest impact on you and your journey so far? And what have you learned from them?
My Mum. She taught me deep valuable messages such as love, integrity, hard work, not giving up, and being creative. Not seeing her for the past 4 years is the biggest misfortune. But I still feel close to her heart. Other women such as Shiree – as a mentor, teaching me a lot about running a business. Julia Child - cookbook author and TV personality. Her influence has seeped from the culinary world into many other aspects of society.
What does International Women's Day mean to you?
I’ve never really paid much attention to International Women’s Day in the past. But now that I am working alongside women from diverse cultural backgrounds, I realise that this is such an important opportunity to honour the women who have been, and continue to be, at the forefront. Women standing up, and showing that we have the power to make change and create progress for the future.
What is your hope for women and girls in the future?
My hope for the next generation is that they recognise the importance of their own voice and power. I hope that they keep in mind that it is not the leader in front of you, but the leader within you, that presents the greatest amount of power and change within our society.
If you could have told your younger self anything, what would it have been?
You are on a journey, Lilly. Things will change. Even important things will change, and sometimes this will shock you. Nevertheless, it’s a good journey, and it’s worth every step. Oh, and stop watching so much TV. Read more.