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Q&A with Eighty/Twenty's Klarisa Cengic

Turning a vision into a reality and jumping into the business world takes guts, creativity and sheer hard work. Nothing motivates me more than seeing someone with the drive, self belief and determination to birth a dream into a reality. The ability to channel passion into action is a special kind of magic, that entrepreneurial spirit is nothing short of inspiring and I witnessed this magic when a family friend of mine, along with her sister Tihana, launched Braddon's prominent corner cafe, Eighty/Twenty.

Eighty/Twenty Food offers a delicious, healthy menu which is updated regularly, exceptional coffee and must-try raw desserts. The space is beautifully designed, featuring well planned details including the denim seat cushions, concrete bench top and black gloss tiling. The oversized high table, stunning black coffee machine and herb wall speak volumes about the creative talent and vision of Klarisa and Tihana.

I sat down with Klarisa Cengic, one half of Eighty/Twenty, to talk all things style, health and business.

Eighty Twenty Canberra

What sparked the idea for Eighty Twenty?

Initially it was more Tihana's idea because she has been in hospitality forever - she approached me and asked me if I wanted to open a cafe with her. When we started brainstorming ideas, we didn't want it to be just an everyday cafe, we wanted it to have a niche and be different. We have always been super into healthy eating, not in a strict diet sort of way but with a focus on eating wholesome, nutritious food. This stems from our upbringing and our Croatian background, we grew up enjoying great home cooked meals.

The main thing that came through all of our brainstorming was the idea that we wanted people to walk out of our cafe feeling full but nourished, we wanted our customers to leave feeling happy and good about the choices that they have made but we didn't want to be over the top about it either - we believe in balance.

What prior skills helped you succeed in this venture?

Tihana's has been in the hospitality industry her whole working life so she already had good connections with suppliers, management skills and systems for rostering, ordering and running a cafe that were invaluable in getting the place set up. For me, I have a marketing background so this helped the other side to the business and the combination of both our skills make us a great team. We have never done any paid marketing and I was able to use my skills to create a cohesive brand, so not just doing things ad hoc but having a plan and strategy.

Favourite hot spot in Canberra?

I am loving Bar Rochford in the Melbourne Building. It's a cool wine bar, I particularly love it because of the fire place! I also love Monster, it has a great vibe.

Best Smoothie On The Menu?

I would have to say the Pop-eye because while it's a green smoothie, it also tastes really good. It has a good balance of sweetness and sourness, so provides flavour and nutrition. Lots of green smoothies can miss the mark on taste but the Pop-eye definitely delivers.

I also love the Smoothie of The Month we have right now, which is a Salted Caramel Chai - it's really good, the staff are loving it!

Go-to Style/Outfit?

Jeans, sneakers (either Air Max, Nike or Roshe) and an oversized jumper. I like to dress comfortably for work but still maintain my own style.

Favourite Labels?

I love Camila & Marc! I have a C&M jumper I have worn to death, I will not let go of it!

What does style mean to you?

I think style is doing your own thing. I don't particularly follow anyone and I'm not too conscious about if I'm being "stylish" or not, I just put on what I feel looks good on me. I think it’s about knowing your body, knowing what will be comfortable and I think style is very much each to their own.

Success is.....

Working hard on something with the end result being that you’re really happy with what you have created or done and not resting on just that happiness but striving for more.

What’s next?

Focus on making 80/20 as good as it can be, continue to introduce new menu items, start doing health seminars and educating our customers. Down the track we would also love to look at opening a mini 80/20 somewhere else and explore other ventures!

Eighty Twenty Braddon

Eighty Twenty Braddon


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