Words by Jane Ryan
Photography by Duncan Wright
Perth is home to a new hospitality group in the Australian bartending community, exclusively founded for women, with the intent to further conversations of gender equality in the industry. Called Mix Haus, it comes to us from a trio of Perth women – Pippa Canavan, Reid Günter and Shirley Yeung – and they’ve got their sights set on networking, education and providing a support system for their community. We jumped on the phone with Shirley to discuss what Mix Haus will be bringing to WA, and hopefully later, to the whole country.
“Mix Haus was born out of necessity and it’s something we’ve always spoken about – why isn’t there anything directed at women only? Why isn’t there anything there to highlight and support women in the community of amazing talent in our industry? In the past, we have had similar groups and communities that did get the support, but the momentum for it never pushed as far as we expected or really wanted,” says Shirley.
Launching on March 8th (2021), International Women’s Day, Mix Haus has been launched with the main mission of creating an open and safe group for women in hospitality to come together, to offer workshops, trainings and networking events to highlight and support the talented women in our industry. The founders have a great CV of experience in the industry, with Reid the current manager for Fleur's private dining room after working across various venues in northbridge and the city, Pippa as brand manager for Spirits Platform in WA with over 10 years experience in bars and venues across Perth and Edinburgh and Shirley as Foxtrot Unicorn's bar manager with her own wealth of hospo experience before her current role.
A side-conversation that grew into a fully-fledged non-for-profit, the decision to pursuit the idea of creating an organisation for Pippa, Reid and Shirley was galvanised when they decided to start applying for funding. “For us, we understood that working with brands and getting funding was a huge part in order for the success of what Mix Haus should eventually be. A few months ago we put everything together and submitted brand proposals and it became a real thing. We were unsuccessful for those proposals, but the result of that was this great thing has come to life, so we said, let’s just go forward with this.”
Pippa, Shirley and Reid know each other from the industry over the years, meeting at trainings, events and working in close proximity to each other’s venues. Over the years this formed into both a friendship and a professional relationship. They know the value of what a room full of smart and empowered women can give to both those embarking on a new career and those in the midst of it, and they’re also providing an open space where others can support their female colleagues and peers.
After the successful launch – covered in mainstream publications such as Urban List – Mix Haus is now structuring itself on a framework of three different styles of events. The first will be more exclusive training for women in the industry. “That being said, it’s not just for the bar side of things, but inclusive of every sector of hospitality, so workshops and trainings that cover the kitchen and floor too,” says Shirley. They’ll then have networking events, that promote sharing experiences, and having guest speakers that are part of their community. “This is to have an open discussion and will include topics like mental health, because it’s so important in the industry.”
Finally there’ll be more open events where everyone can get involved and support the organisation, and women in the industry. “These will be inclusive of men, so open to the public, where we want to hold awesome events such as long table dinners and takeovers, to bring the community of the industry together to support and highlight the talent of amazing women as well and what they do in our industry,” says Shirley.
Perth-bound for now, Pippa, Reid and Shirley want to spend the first 12 months activating and pushing Mix Haus in their home community. “We have such a great community and unfortunately for us we are so far away from everything that is over east, so it will be nice to have something that is our own to push, and then from the success of this and seeing what works and what doesn’t, we do have the intention to push it more nationally, and over east to do collaborations with all the amazing women over there.”
With a hospitality workforce in Australia this is actually majority female – at around 55% - and yet with a very slim percentage of those sticking around to form a career or moving up into management and leadership roles – around 13% - the in between space is where Mix Haus intends to make a difference. Highlighting and brining to the table the available career paths is a big focus for the group.
Having seen firsthand, at a Colemans and Speedrack event in Sydney, the power of a female collective, Shirley says “being in that room filled with all these amazing and intelligent women, was awesome. We do this, not because we want to exclude the male gender but more so that women work well in communities and thrive off and empower each other and it’s so important to have something like Mix Haus that is present at a time like this.”
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