Coleman’s Academy will return this year with a rebuilt and redesigned offering, launching its first session for 2019 at Moya’s Juniper Lounge in Sydney in mid-April.
The non-profit Coleman’s Academy, named after the legendary female bartender Ada Coleman, was founded by Paige Aubort in 2015. Its mission is “to create a collaborative environment of strengthening female participation in our industry and to inspire and empower the next generation of hospitality workers to see it as a career”.
According to Aubort, this year marks a change in approach for Coleman’s Academy. “We’ve spent the past six months completely breaking down the Coleman’s that existed and rebuilding it from the ground up – phoenix rising from the ashes type shit,” she told BARS&clubs.
“The Coleman’s that has come before us was exactly what was needed but times are changing and so are we. We are aiming to build events, be in new and exciting spaces and tailor our sessions to represent the women of our industry.
“Last year, Coleman’s Academy ran sessions in four major Australian cities multiple times, we earned our first major national sponsor, and had a couple of chats overseas too. The growth was amazing, exciting and encouraging, however, when we reassessed our values we realised that it was more important to ensure quality of speakers than to be everywhere, all the time, at once.
“So we decided to stop, collaborate and redesign the somewhat seat-of-our-pants-produced product to bring it back in the most sustainable way for 2019.”
This means, that after expanding in 2018 – to include events in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and London and attracting the attendance of over 800 women – Coleman’s Academy sessions will largely be focused in Sydney this year. Eight sessions will be held overall, running monthly from April through to November.
“This will allow us to refine, build and prepare for sustainable growth in our home city, nationally and eventually overseas,” Aubort explains. “The restricted number of sessions also allows for more off the cuff sessions should unexpected opportunities arise.
“Occasionally I get the opportunity to travel overseas and I always try to run a session where possible, so whilst it’s not confirmed, fingers crossed there’s going to be a Coleman’s Academy taking place in Toronto.
“Sadly, no set sessions will be running in other states this year, however the dream is to have cool little concept sessions all around Australia, ultimately it comes down to brand support and the different cities industries working to find a place for it.”
In a first for Coleman’s Academy, this year’s sessions will also see the floor being opened up to industry-leading male speakers.
“Originally, Coleman’s was solely created to provide a platform for the women in the hospitality industry,” says Aubort. “However, we understand that we must represent our inclusive, future-proof and robust assault on gender inequality in our industry.
“This includes embracing the character, mutual goal of equality and leadership of the amazing men who will help us achieve our goals.”
The first session for the year will see Hannah Sharman Cox (founder of DrinkUp.London) and Kylie Javier Ashton (General Manager of Momofuku Seiobo) share their combined wealth of industry knowledge and experience to those gathered at Moya’s Juniper Lounge in Redfern on 15 April.
St-Germain will be supporting the session with their trademark spritzes, and food will be provided as well. Attendance is free for all female-identifying members of the industry. More info about the opening Coleman’s Academy session for 2019 can be found on the Facebook event page.
Aubort is also very clear about the future direction and aim of Coleman’s Academy.
“Travelling overseas last year, I expected to come back to Australia with a ‘pick up your game’ mentality but really I came back fucking proud of our country’s industry,” says Aubort.
“Yes, we have a hell of way to go before we reach equality in our leadership and senior management positions, representation behind the bar and in media, but we’re on the path.
“The goal is to have Australia be the gold standard of gender equality, diversity and inclusion. I want everyone to look at us as the example set and to catch up to. It’s going to take work but we can do it.”