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Mother and daughter bring the community of Hunter’s Hill together

Some of us are driven by an inexplicable calling. And it was this insistent tugging at the heartstrings that compelled single mum of three Georgie Cwikel, to jump on board the entrepreneurial roller coaster ride of her life.

Taking the plunge

“I’d been looking at empty spaces and seeing potential businesses that could do well in my local area for about 15 years,” Georgie says.

“But because my background in hairdressing, it was just safer and easier to run my hairdressing business from home.”

However, Georgie knew she wanted more and she found herself continually drawn to an empty building which was once a café in her home town in Hunter’s Hill.

Her eldest daughter Leah, who ran a bookshop in Chatswood nearby, had heard her mother speak of her dream for years.

“Leah got sick of me saying, ‘What about this place? What about that place?’” Georgie says. “So when I suggested this space to her, she said, ‘Mum, let’s just do it! But only if you put books in there.’ Because she’s a writer.”

Agreeing to her daughter’s terms, Georgie invested every cent she had into establishing the Unwritten Bookshop/Café, which has become a Hunter’s Hill institution.

Back to basics

“It was very basic in the beginning,” says Georgie of the start they made seven years ago.

“I’d never even worked in a café before, let alone opened one. But it felt right; like one of those life callings that had to be answered. I wanted to take a risk I guess, and it felt like the right time.”

After a year of serving toasties and sandwiches in their modestly fitted-out establishment, Georgie recognized the need to grow.

Expanding horizons 

“Before we knew it, we had to move our beloved bookshelves to make way for more table space. We were doing something that no one else in the area was doing, creating beautiful spaces for the community to come together,” she says remarking how well their café resonated with the locals.

“Within the first year, three cafes had opened up around us because they could see the potential market. That was confronting.”

Rather than shrinking in the face of what many would perceive as adversity however, Georgie was inspired to expand her creative abilities.

“It spurred me onwards rather than scaring me. We invested more money into installing a full kitchen at that time, and we’ve gone from being the only café in our area to one of around eight or nine.”

An abundance mindset

It’s easy for small businesses to see local competition as a threat but Georgie has a unique way of transforming challenges into opportunities.

“I also believe there’s plenty for everybody,” she says. “I know what it takes to open a business now. So I hope others succeed. I don't want them to fail, because that inspires my own failure.

“I’ve learned a lot since opening. Not just about running this business, but a lot about myself and my family. Being a business owner is a constant personal and professional growth opportunity and I love that.”

Georgie is also mindful of maintaining their initial vision.

“Since we started, the café industry has exploded. We tend to play it safe, which has really supported our business, and not fall into the trap of following trends. You must stay true to what you believe and love.\

“For me that’s always been really wholesome home cooking. And bringing joy to the community through great coffee, great food, great service, acknowledgement and connection. That’s what people want and that's what I love giving them.”

You can visit Unwritten Bookshop Café at 107 Pittwater Rd, Hunters Hill NSW 2110