Merchant Road believe that true hospitality is about welcoming others, and forging a sense of community around a table.
The Melbourne-based not-for-profit has just launched their new training program Many Hands. By providing eight weeks of paid training to women experiencing barriers to employment, it aims to equip participants with skills to find work in the events and hospitality industry.
‘The program has already helped me in many ways; it has not only helped me in gaining experience, skills, and knowledge in a practical environment, but also prepared me for job opportunities and made my resume broader and now I can proudly say I have the experience, and hence I am a good candidate for more employment opportunities,’ tells Many Hands participant Zeituna.
True to its name, the initiative leverages the strength of collaboration. Skills in coffee making, service, wine, and floristry, are being taught by the likes of Market Lane Coffee, Milieu Hospitality, Rachel Signer, Cecilia Fox, and Candy Mountain.
‘Merchant Road is a not-for-profit with a social mission to empower women through work, and the way we do this is quite unique’. explains founder Jane Marx. ‘We partner with the best businesses in the industry; we have a strong signature aesthetic and we create really special dining experiences. Ultimately, we invite people to come to the events we run so they can experience something exceptional. If they support our social mission, that’s a bonus!’
To celebrate its launch, Merchant Road has produced this powerful photo series inspired by a portrait of female entrepreneurs in CEO Magazine. ‘Obviously, the young women we work with are very much at the beginning of their career journey. However, when I saw that image, I thought, that’s us there. That same strength, style, and power emanate from the women we work with. This is an important step in changing the visual narrative of what a strong woman looks like,’ explains Jane.
Merchant Road worked with Australian-designed, Italian-made footwear label Habbot, local sustainable label Arnsdorf, Cecilia Fox, In Bed Store and SO.LE studio on the exquisite campaign, which was shot at The Establishment Studios in Fitzroy.
Funded by the Victorian Government’s Pick My Project initiative, Many Hands is currently being run as a pilot program with 14 young women until December. A series of long-table dinners will take place at the conclusion of each training, providing program participants with the opportunity to gain experience hosting events open to the public.