This week Vivid Minds Vivid Futures interviews Bridget Doran, the owner of The Herd Bar, a mobile vintage caravan serving specialty coffee, gelato and bar hire.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I was born in Armidale and raised in Uralla. I attended primary school at St Joseph’s Uralla and Uralla Central up until the end of Year 8, then I went O’Connor Catholic College in Armidale for years 9 and 10. While I was at school I played a lot of sport, including hockey, swimming, touch and golf, and represented my schools at regional and state championships. When I was 14 years old, I started my first job at a local café and shortly after, I had four jobs in Uralla businesses for a few years. When I finished my School Certificate, I decided I’d had enough and started my first full-time job as a dental assistant at Dewhurst Dental and worked there for two years before I headed off to Canada on a working holiday for three months. While there, I worked in a 4-star resort in Invermere, British Columbia. I was feeling a little homesick and spent the fourth month travelling the USA with my family before returning home to commence a traineeship in local government. I spent a number of years working in human resources before moving into the higher education sector – where I am still working full-time in the organisation. During this time, I had been thinking about starting my own business and The Herd Bar came to fruition in 2018.
What led you to start your business?
I started building the business in January 2018 and it took about six months to get off the ground. We launched our first event in July 2018. So, we’ve been around just over two years. I always knew that I wanted to have something like the Herd Bar. When I was working in the hospitality industry as a teenager, I just loved it and knew having my own business was going to happen at some stage of my life. I saw that there was a bit of opportunity in the mobile space. There were only one or two coffee vans getting around the region and nobody that had a van designed for bar hire. We wanted to take it to another level: a cute vintage van, really good coffee, good customer service.
What does The Herd Bar do?
We are a mobile service offering speciality coffee, artisan gelato and bar hire at various events in the region, including local farmers’ markets, sporting events, corporate events, weddings and so on.
What have been some of your challenges in starting a business?
The biggest challenge is having the confidence to get started. The thought of moving away from a secure job and starting your own business can be a bit scary. But if you don’t try it, you’ll never know! I’m still at the crossroads – juggling a full-time job and running the business, and that has its moments!
How has COVID affected The Herd Bar?
It shut us down completely for three months because all events and weddings were cancelled or postponed. I just had to park the van in the shed. It was a tough time as we had a busy schedule locked in. We also have a little gelato cart and when the lockdown started, I had quite a lot of gelato in stock so I just sold it all online as take-home packs. We’re back up and running again now and pretty busy with markets, weekend sport and a few private events around the region. Thankfully a lot of the events that we attend are outdoors, so although there are a lot of restrictions in place, we can abide by the rules and social distance with ease.
What do you like most about running your own business?
I love that I am in full control of the business. It’s up to me to maintain the high standard and raise the bar. There are so many opportunities for growth and I can look at them all and decide how I want the business to move forward in the coming years. It’s very satisfying!
What advice would you give a business just starting out?
It’s simple: just do it. Don’t over think it. If I had kept weighing up the pros and cons, I would never have started. So, if there’s an opening, if there’s a gap in the market – if you see an opportunity, then just go for it.
What inspires you?
My family is important and they keep me going on so many levels. They help me a lot with running The Herd Bar every weekend, especially when I have more than one booking on the same day. I was brought up to always do my best whatever the circumstances, and that has been a really solid foundation to build the business on.
What is your secret for success?
It’s a lot about being passionate about what I do. It’s important to work hard, be consistent and always turn up. Always offer the same great service and quality products.
What’s next for The Herd Bar?
2021 is looking very promising for The Herd Bar and we have already booked in many events for early and late in the year, so that is encouraging and allows us to look at how we can improve and grow the business. You’ll have to wait and see what we do next!