Mahalia Layzell is undoubtedly the Queen of Coffee. Starting her coffee roasting business from a café in the seaside town of Robe, she figured they were making everything else in-house so why not make coffee as well.
Mahalia and her husband Paul are both chefs with over 30 years experience in hospitality between them.
Mahalia Coffee was born from humble beginnings, and is now winning numerous awards and is proudly stocked in many outlets and households across the country.
We talked all things business, leadership, and learning the art of delegating in our ‘Five minutes with Mahalia’.
What is the most important aspect to running a successful business?
Being able to delegate to your staff and having the right people is without a doubt one of the most critical aspects of running a business. Sharing the workload has been a skill that she has had to learn over time, and hiring the right people who you trust to do the job and do it well.
Building trust within her staff group has been a key to her success. It’s about being specific with what you expect from them and instilling confidence in them.
This comes down to understanding what they need and nurturing relationships with your staff.
What is the best advice you've ever been given that you use?
“Not my circus, not my monkeys”
It’s very easy to get caught up in what other people are doing and situations that are not at the core of what you need to do for your business.
“Mind your own business”, she says but be aware of what is happening around you.
It is essential to read between the lines and to know what and where is worth your energy.
What makes a good leader?
Good leaders are compassionate but show discipline. Being a compassionate and consistent leader has helped her manage her team of 12 – 14 staff.
Compassion – Because although the expectation is a focus on the work your staff do, everyone has outside lives that impact their work. Running her business with an open-door policy has allowed her to develop her skills as a compassionate leader who is approachable to her staff.
She wants the bad news straight away. She is a problem solver, so she expects staff to be open and honest with her. They are all in it together, so everything goes on the table as early as possible so that matters can be resolved as quickly as possible.
She also believes that you need to continually be looking to improve your business and the people who work for you. “Don’t tell them once, tell them for the duration of their employment what you expect of them and check the quality of their work. You may have 41 processes in your business day to day, so people need continual guidance to do a great job”.
How do you manage yourself so you can give the best to your business?
Going from running a busy café and doing 89 hour weeks to having her first child she realised that this model of working was not sustainable. Now Mahalia manages herself and her time by not working weekends unless absolutely necessary. She says you need to set the boundaries of when you are available so that you can have some time off.
They have set up their website with this in mind so that their customers don’t run out of coffee on the weekends, and they can have much needed time away from running a busy business.
“You don't want to burn out because then no-one wins. You have to take responsibility for your actions”.
What new for Mahalia’s Coffee?
Always looking to improve their products and source the next best grain, she is working on a new high-end coffee blend which everyone is excited about.
Mahalia has experienced the ups and downs of running a successful business, but believes that “self-doubt is good, because it makes you hungry."
If you are in Robe, swing past and taste some of Mahalia’s coffee in-house, or you can pick them up from a stockist in most states. Visit the website for more details.