5 Mins with Lorna from Poppies Cafe

*What was the inspiration for your project / company and how long had you been working on it before launching? 

I originally wanted to be a fighter jet pilot (top gun inspired), but that didn’t work so it was plan B! I will be completely honest, I didn’t know what was on the cards once I had graduated and gone travelling but things just worked out! With Poppies, the work was done by the time I came onto the scene. My husband Mike had already worked really hard on setting up Poppies with his then business partners. When I came to work for Mike in 2010, we discovered we shared a passion for hospitality and the drive to succeed and grow. When the opportunity arose to become full owners ourselves we jumped at the chance. Over a number of years we grew the business into what we envisioned, we joke about creating a bit of a monster!

 We had good times and bad times along the way. We then had two children and for some reason thought it was a great idea to take over a second business. Then covid hit and it was a whole lot more of adapting to keep both businesses going. But we did adapt, and did so several times to survive as a business and bring security to those we employed. 

I will be honest, a number of people have been inspiring to me throughout my life but with this journey, Mike was the inspiration in my experience. He showed first hand that you can achieve anything if you work hard enough for it and made me believe that I could too.

*Can you share with us what a typical day looks like for you? 

I am currently lucky enough to have some amazing staff which means I don’t have to be on the floor full time as I had been for so long. This allows me to step back and work on the business as well as be a Mum. So, at the moment I start my day by getting myself ready, then getting the kids fed and ready for school. I then drop them at the school bus and carry on with our dog Bella for a walk/bike ride. I try to make sure I am home in time to do a work out as this is important for me mentally and then get ready for work. 

I first go to Poppies and check in with everyone (very important to everyone’s day) and have a coffee before I head to the office to go through emails, do the payroll, any ordering etc. I usually talk with the manager to go through any upcoming bookings, budgets, rosters etc. If everything is under control I then move to the second business and do the same. Someone quite often wants to chat which can make a difference to their day, this can be a member of staff or a regular customer. I’ll usually have lunch with Mike at one of the business so we can go through anything that needs to be discussed then we will carry on working on the two businesses until School pick up. 

Either the kids will have sport or we will just chill at home and get dinner ready. Then I am either getting ready for the night shift at work or getting into the bedtime routine followed by any work that is still left over or enjoying just hanging out on the couch.

*The industry that you’re in now, was that always a career pathway you wanted to explore? And if not always, what sparked your initial interest? 

To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure where I was going, I wanted to be a lot of things! I always enjoyed customer service, I worked for years in retail and worked part time in hospitality. At Uni I started studying Human Resource Management but then moved onto what I really wanted to do and studied a Police and Criminal Investigations Degree. I wanted to make a difference and I wasn’t naïve, I knew that kind of career could take me to some really dark places, but I wanted to try. During this time I learnt lots, did several volunteer roles, carried on working and met amazing people but I also knew I wanted to see the world. So, after my degree I set off on my big trip and about half way round, I decided I needed to work to fund my travels. I turned up in Twizel at Poppies, met Mike and the rest is history so they say. Being back in hospitality reminded me how much I loved the interaction with people and making people happy with our product. It does get stressful but I almost get a buzz from the adrenalin of working in a busy environment as well.

*Do you have a highlight experience from your years of work in the creative space?

I would say one of the things that we have found really rewarding for us is the people. Not just the customers and the feedback but the staff. Our business is very seasonal and we rely on short term staff who are here just like I was when I was travelling. These people are super fun, they learn lots and you learn lots from them. It can be challenging re-recruiting and training all the time but you meet so many different people from all over the world with different backgrounds. All though it’s sad when people leave, it’s so awesome to see what they go onto next, some go on to follow their dreams and they do amazing things. Every now and again one of those people will say it was their experience with us that had inspired them to do the things they do now and that is amazing. I find that so inspirational and love the memories they create with the team here ,and the stories we can tell.

*Can you share something that may surprise people about what could go on behind the scenes of your work? 

Hmmmm. The fact that most of our staff are international from a range of different countries and cultures means that behind the scenes things are constantly developing and changing. We need to be thinking about the way we train new staff, adapting things to enable our systems to be more efficient. Basically always learning about how we can adapt to the way others from different backgrounds work to overcome communication barriers and to get the best out of everyone. We also have a bond as most of us have been travelling and have the insight and stories to tell which is really cool.

*Where would we find you in your spare time?

Probably at work! If I am making time for myself without work or children I like walking, having coffee with friends, working out. Mike and I love getting dressed up and going out for lunch in Banockburn! Something that makes me feel good.

*Best advice you’ve ever been given? 

My husband would always say “Life isn’t fair” if I was ever complaining, not sure if that’s helpful or not, more like a reality check!

But one thing that someone told me before I had my second child has always helped me, and it’s so simple. When you have a lot going on and things are overwhelming its so easy to fall into a rabbit hole, things can become mentally challenging and it can be hard to find motivation. Someone told me that their Mum had given them some advice when talking about the time after you have a child. Her advice was simply to get up and get dressed. That’s it. Even when you are at your lowest, you get up, get dressed and you’re ready to take on the day, you’ve already made an achievement. I still go by that, and it works.


Insta: @poppiescafeandrestaurant and @musterershutcafe



Kimberley Crossman

Kimberley Crossman is a kiwi actress, author, and presenter. Oh and you are currently on her website reading a blog she has written.