The Hop Thru Cafe team are (from left) Yasmine Kratzman, Sarah Gomez, Carmel Tulloch, Innez Tulloch, Adam Archer and Sarah Voller.
The Hop Thru Cafe team are (from left) Yasmine Kratzman, Sarah Gomez, Carmel Tulloch, Innez Tulloch, Adam Archer and Sarah Voller.

Tragedy to triumph as businesswoman fights back

In the past few months, Ms Tulloch has saved her business from going bankrupt, started a new business, employed more staff, had a cancer scare which led to a partial mastectomy and continues to operate an enterprise in one of Asia’s poorest countries.

Ms Tulloch has been employing the city’s vulnerable for almost a decade through her company CCP Your Catering People, from those with disabilities to migrants who might otherwise struggle to land a job.

CCP is a cafe run out of the University of Southern Queensland campus refectory, and it also acts as a catering company for local events.

Ms Tulloch said her business was thriving in 2018 and at the start of 2019 until the bushfires began late last year, cancelling events and slowing her business. Then came the quiet period over New Year’s at the university, and the final kicker was the COVID-19 pandemic hitting hard in March.

She said like many businesses she struggled.

“I lost 90% of the business, it was absolutely terrifying,” she said.

“I didn’t think I’d make it, and there is no time to plan for this type of tragedy.

“But I like to think of myself as a resilient person, and I applied for every grant out there.

“I ended up being granted JobKeeper as well as a QRIDA loan from the Queensland Government. Without that, I would be gone, and my staff would all lost their jobs.”

Ms Tulloch put her thinking cap on and was brainstorming a way to use the loan to keep herself and her staff employed.

“I kept wondering and trying to think of businesses that hadn’t been as affected by COVID, and then it came to me – a drive-through business,” she said.

Ms Tulloch, earlier this month, launched The Hop Thru Café at 247 James St and serves fresh food fast.

“I’m feeling really positive, it’s a great area and we do tasty food and coffee,” she said.

The cafe caters for all dietary requirements.

Ms Tulloch said she was so thankful, as she was able to hire extra staff as well as keep her team in work.

While she was in the midst of planning this new business, Ms Tulloch had her routine breast scan in early July where abnormalities were found in her left breast.

She was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ which is non-invasive breast cancer, meaning it hadn’t spread beyond the milk duct into any normal surrounding.

Not wanting to take any chances, Ms Tulloch booked herself straight in for a partial mastectomy, removing her left breast in early August.

“I want to let people know no matter how busy life gets you need to look after yourself and take your health seriously,” she said.

“I didn’t take much time off and have kept a very positive outlook, always looking ahead and wondering what I can do to help the cafe and catering business, and now drive-through thrive.”

In between her work in the hospitality industry, Ms Tulloch also runs a social enterprise in Cambodia called The Baby Elephant Group which is a vibrant, ethically run, independent boutique hotel and wellness service.

It was launched by Ms Tulloch and her daughter Ilana.

The enterprise hires people in Cambodia, which is one of the poorest countries in Asia, and provides training in hospitality, giving their employees skills and employment.

“Everywhere has been hit hard by COVID, and the tourism industry is decimated,” she said.

“We can’t just leave these people in the lurch when they need us the most, so we are coming up with ways to keep them employed.”

A GoFundMe page has been launched if you are able to donate:

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