Whatcha Brewing was built from the ground up by Mylestones client Harrison Hedges.
For some, it can take a lifetime to discover their passion and calling in life. For others, it can happen in an instant, as was the case with Harrison Hedges and his love for coffee.
From the moment Harrison, 26, began working in the hospitality industry 11 years ago through a school-based traineeship, he knew coffee was his life’s calling.
“I have always wanted to run my own café,” Harrison said.
Not one to sit idly by, Harrison worked his way up from a dish hand to assistant manager to a coffee shop owner, with the recent opening of Whatcha Brewing Specialty Coffee Co at the Big Top shopping centre in Maroochydore.
“It’s hard to believe my dream came true,” he said.
“There were certain times when I thought I wouldn’t be able to achieve my dream, but I silenced those voices and made it happen.”
Born with epilepsy and mild cerebral palsy, Harrison said the journey to becoming a café owner wasn’t easy.
“I was getting countless rejection letters a month from employers,” Harrison said.
“I had also been told by some employers that I was only employed because I had a disability, and they were getting money for me.
“That never stopped me though, and is part of the reason why I wanted to run my own café because I knew I could do better.”
Harrison said he wouldn’t be where he is today without the help of Mylestones Employment.
“I started with Mylestones in 2015, and they have been there for me every step of the way,” he said.
My Mylestones Job Development Officer, has been one of my biggest supporters and pushed me to follow my dream and take the risk because he knew it’s what I wanted.
“He has this saying which I love ‘how many times can you tip-toe around the pool before you jump in’.
“He was exactly right. I could have tip-toed around the same pool for another five years working for someone else and not doing what I wanted.”
Wanting to give back, Harrison said he intends to continue his work with Mylestones as an employer.
“My goal with the café is to work alongside Mylestones and employ people with disabilities,” he said.
“I want all people, regardless of their ability, to have the opportunity to get employment.
“The more people out there supporting people with a disability, the better.”
Currently operating at the Big Top shopping centre in Maroochydore, Harrison hopes to expand Whatcha Brewing into other shopping centres across Queensland and employ people with disabilities.