Think HBR

Let's Talk With Shannon Davis

shannon 3
What do you do?
I am the owner/operator at Pork Ewe Deli where my role is full time baby sitter of cheese and meats. My days involve a lot of cheese & charcuterie maintenance to ensure that each item continues to develop and mature properly. This is very time consuming and keeps me occupied along with the everyday running of the business from accounting and bookkeeping to customer service and everything else in between.
How did you get here?
Now this is a tough one because it feels like I just woke up one day to find that I had opened a deli and a new chapter of my life was about to begin… it was terrifying because we just had to close our eyes and jump.
My husband Craig and I have spent a lot of time in Melbourne which is European food central and we have also been very fortunate enough to have travelled quite extensively through Europe and the one thing we couldn’t believe when we moved to the Newcastle/Hunter region was the lack of really good food in the way of cheese and charcuterie. I was working at Audrey Wilkinson winery and Craig was always away with work so we just dreamt about the idea of opening a deli ‘one day’. Then in September 2013 I travelled to France to work for a fantastic winemaker in Burgundy with a dream of furthering my wine making career. This all came to an abrupt halt when after six weeks of eating 2kg of cheese a day I decided that I couldn’t live without it. I knew I could get good wine anywhere in the Hunter region but getting fantastic, mind blowing cheese was impossible so when I arrived home I quit my beloved job and Pork Ewe Deli was born.
We expected the first few months to be very slow and that during this period I could learn the ropes of running a deli as I had never used a meat slicer or even cut large pieces of cheese until the day we opened. However, as soon as we opened the deli we were inundated with people falling through the doors and 12 months on it shows no signs of slowing up, we just keep growing and getting busier which is wonderful.
What do you do in your down time?
More than likely, I’m on our farm working, fixing, or making something, and hanging out with the kids, and our dogs.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I am quietly competitive, (some would say not so quite though), and I want our deli to be the best it possibly can be. I want people to come in here and be blown away and overwhelmed by the smells and sights of all the amazing food and most of all be blown away by our service. I have been fortunate enough to have worked for some very successful and wonderful people over the years that I have observed and learnt much from in the way of running a business and it has helped me greatly in
creating a unique environment which I am very proud of.
However inspiration also comes from every French or Italian cooking show on TV…they make me want to bring as much of Europe into our deli as possible…but I think I’ll need a bigger shop!
Do you have any advice for someone starting their own business?
Just be positive and forward thinking and never get lazy with your business. I worked for Flight Centre for a short while and they were fascinating to watch as they were constantly looking for ways to improve, grow and to develop the company. They never said “ok, this is good enough, let’s stay like this”. They were relentless in the way they keep the company moving forward and pushed for more each and every day.
Tell us something that most people wouldn’t know about you?
Well I am a bit of a gypsy at heart and have never been very good at sitting still or staying in one place, so owning a business and having no spare time is going a little against my nature but I am coping….just.
How would you like the Hunter to evolve over the next decade?
We love the Newcastle/Hunter region and have been amazed at the growth since we moved here in 2011. With the rapid population increase we would love to see the outer suburbs, like Mayfield, offering incentives to small businesses to open in these areas. This would help to stimulate the local economy and breathe a new lease of life into the communities.
Favourite place to eat?
Barios 2304 Spanish Tapis restaurant in Mayfield is the best for a casual night out and Bistro Molines French restaurant in Hunter for a special occasion.
Favourite sportsperson?
Rodger Federer, the one and only
Best line from a film?
“I’m a peacock, you gotta let me fly!” from The Other Guys