When a local café came up for lease, Charley Hodge booked a Venture Taranaki Business Start-up clinic to help ensure things got moving in the right direction.

“I’d always dreamed of running a food business, and when an old café in Eltham’s CBD came up for lease, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make my dream come true,” Charley says. 

After a lengthy rebuild of the premises, Charley’s Café is now up and running, and successfully serving Eltham’s growing community as well as visitors to and through the South Taranaki town.

“There are a lot of shift workers in Eltham, across the town’s meat and cheese factories, so it was important for me to provide them with good food and a friendly face, and we open at 5am on weekdays to do this.”

“The support and feedback we have received so far has been exceptional, not only from people we know, but strangers and passers-by as well!”

While the café appears to have been just what the town needed, transforming an outdated coffee shop into a modern café took a lot more effort than Charley had anticipated, though she was more than prepared to roll up her sleeves and see it through, with the support of whanau and friends. 

“We had to source everything, from our equipment, to the machinery and even the crockery. This involved finding the best supplier and waiting for installation, some of which took 6-weeks longer than anticipated!”

Charley discovered Venture Taranaki through conversations with other Eltham business owners, and signed up for a free Business Start-up clinic to help her make sure things were on the right track.

“I got so much out of that meeting. I received really valuable feedback about my ideas and the pathways I needed to take to achieve what I wanted. I felt reassured that I had a great idea that could go a long way,” Charley says.
“It was amazing, and I’ve already recommended the service to friends with ideas for businesses.”  

“We weren’t expecting it to be easy - hard-work and preparation are essential to planning and building a successful business, and so is getting good support and feedback.”

“But the hard work and the planning have all been worth it. The coolest things about owning my own business are being able to do things my way and the freedom to create anything I want - meals, cakes and other home-made food,” she says.