Case Study: The Purple Swamphen

The beginning

The beginning Back in June 2013, when she first started to think about starting a small business on Flinders Island, Mel Telfer contacted Enterprise Centres Tasmania’s business advisor Debbie Steer, of Business & Employment. Debbie met Mel on the island and talked over all aspects of a business startup and provided templates to help Mel plan.

As the plans evolved, Mel teamed up with a business partner, Helen Carnell. They found a commercial property to rent and so The Purple Swamphen, a retail shop featuring local and Tasmanian makers began to take shape.

In April 2014, Mel emailed Debbie for more advice as they were getting close to opening.

Mel had almost finished her business plan with the template provided so Debbie reviewed it before her scheduled visit in June. Debbie made several recommendations including:

  • contacting the council for any compliance requirements for serving coffee
  • getting at least two quotes for insurance
  • learning how to do and use a cash flow forecast
  • starting an online store and deciding which social media platforms to use
  • addressing GST requirements.

When Debbie arrived she was delighted to find Mel and Helen had negotiated a lease for the shop and were working their way through the other issues. “It was great to assist Mel and Helen though the steps required to set up a retail outlet such as the Purple Swamphen” she said. ‘It’s a beautiful place full of unique items for locals and tourists to enjoy.”


Mel was glad of the opportunity to tap into the Enterprise Centres Tasmania network through Business & Employment. “After meeting Debbie, I realised there was a go-to person I could bounce ideas off” she said. “Debbie provided support and guidance which de-mystified the start-up process, particularly the regulations and compliance aspects.”

Mel also mentioned how important it was for Flinders Island residents to be able to communicate with Business & Employment electronically. “Although it’s terrific that Debbie visits us in person – and that’s important to us too – it’s great to be able to access this free service whenever we need to.”

Purple Swamphen

Mel Telfer and Helen Carnell, owner/operators
M: 0428 692 862