Sophia Carlini is the definition of a wonder woman. Seriously, she is.

Sophia is part owner of 3 Degrees Coffee, which she co owns and runs with her fiancé Mike. She is also a public servant by day, baker by night and regular writer for the RiotAct – AND she always looks super stylish.

I sat down with this gorgeous and super empowering woman earlier this week to chat about her new venture, 3 Degrees Coffee. We discussed what it’s like being a small business owner in Canberra, and how she manages to juggle it all.

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Sophia, talk me through the process of opening 3 Degrees Coffee. What was the inspiration behind launching this business? 

It’s been a really really long process, and a lot harder than what we thought it was going to be. Mike (my fiancé), came home one day and said “I’ve found this space (a hole in the wall), let’s turn it into something”. So we looked into it, and next thing you know – we had the keys!

It was really really exciting, but then we hit a lot of hurdles with builders etc, and we struggled to get things done. We expected the build to take 4 weeks, when really it took 5 – 6 months – by then we were having serious doubts. Everything was a challenge, but it’s been a massive learning curve for us.

What was it like opening a small business in Canberra?

It was interesting because Canberra is so small, everyone knows each other.

We’re not Sydney or Melbourne – we are different, and we are slowly developing our own hospitality scene, so it’s been interesting being a part of that scene. As you know, I regularly write for the RiotAct, and have recently written about my experience as a small business owner. I have received a lot of questions from readers about all little aspects of the business, so people definitely like to be involved.

How has sharing your small business experience on the RiotAct been? What have you found your readers to think of your business?

I’ve been writing for the RiotAct for almost 2 years now, and it’s funny because you never know what people are going to react to when you write for an opinion website. I always write articles and think they’re going to be a smash hit, and that people are going to love it – but that’s not always the case.

But with the business and sharing this all via the RiotAct, people have been super supportive, and I was really really surprised by this. Readers have even come into the cafe and told us how amazing the fit out is, and what an incredible job we are doing. We honestly haven’t had any negative feedback at all, it’s been really good!

You can read Sophia’s RiotAct articles here.

So you have shared the entire process of starting up your business on the RiotAct?

Yes so far. I have only written about 3-4 articles, it’s still going. I still have some major things to discuss such has how the build went, and how we were delayed etc, and then about the actual opening and how it’s been as a business owner since it’s been opened – so still have a lot to share!

What are some of the challenges you have faced from running your own business?

Hahaha – the fact that I can’t go home and cry to my Mum!

And I work with my fiancé – who is actually amazing, we are really lucky to be able to work together, so I am thankful for this.

Some of the other challenges would be just having to rely on people to get things done, and baking (Sophia bakes the majority of the cakes and bakery items that are sold in the cafe!!). I have sat on my kitchen floor and just bawled my eyes out. Most nights are consumed with baking.

Where did you find the inspiration for the interior of the cafe?

Well I am very modern and like to think that my style is quite chic. Mike and I like simple and beautiful things. Our house is completely white, and clean and I think that that was the inspiration. We wanted something that stood out, but was something that was easy to manage are well.

How do you find being positioned in the Civic Interchange, was that planned?

No, we randomly found this space and we actually thought that this was going to be an easy set up – that’s why we chose this spot. The interchange has been interesting, people come in here for a reason; they are either commuting to and from work, or they’re walking through to head somewhere else in the city. There are a lot of different people around, but the customers we get are great!

If you could sum up your everyday style in three words, what would they be?

I would say elegant, chic, comfortable. At the moment, my life needs to be comfortable.

Flats or heels?

Heels. Although in hospitality, you need to be practical too!

Complete this sentence: “I feel my most stylish when….”

When I’m wearing one of my favourite dresses.

What do you like most about being a woman in Canberra?

I think it’s all about the community of women in Canberra. Being a women in Canberra can be quite empowering, especially being a woman in business.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Early mornings – waking up at 5am. It’s all about work really. My three jobs keep me super occupied, but couch time with Mike is really important too!

How do you stay motivated and on track with your goals?

By focusing on the end goal. Mike and I want to be one of those couples who work hard for everything we have. We want to build a family and a life together, so that’s the goal we have in sight – and we work hard towards it.

What can we expect to see from you in 2016? What are some of your goals for the year?

My biggest goal is to make sure 3 Degrees Coffee is a success. I want to be able to solely focus on my business, and also go traveling. Essentially, I want to just have a really fun and happy life whilst trying to build an empire.

3 Degrees Coffee is located in Baileys Corner, Canberra City. 

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Sophia is a woman who has serious drive and determination in life, and nothing is going to get in her way! I seriously cannot wait to see what Sophia and Mike get up to next – they really are a power couple to watch in 2016.

You can follow 3 Degrees Coffee on Facebook and Instagram.

All images were photographed by A Stylish Moment.  

Do you know a fashionable Canberra local that has a story to tell? Contact me to chat! xx