Home' LOTL : February 2011 Contents 10 Lesbians On The Loose Magazine • lotl.com
Lifestyle Opinion / Profile / Travel / Food / Stars
A er nearly thirty years of serving the
community, Gail Hewson and Libby Silva
have decided to call it a day, and have put
their business, e Feminist Bookshop (TFB) on
the market. e duo were originally a trio (former
partner Jane Waddy quit the biz a er seventeen
years in order to raise a family) and have plenty
of stories to tell regarding the trials, tribulations
and rewards of running a niche business such as
TFB. Nonetheless TFB has played an integral
role in the lesbian and feminist communities over
the years. Indeed Libby and Gail both received
an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for their
ser vices to women...
Sisters Gail, Libby and Jane bought TFB from
original owner Julia Sugden in 1982. Sugden had
decided it was time to move on a er opening and
running the business since the 70s. Gail recalls:
"we heard she would either sell or close the shop...
It was such a special place for women we felt it
had to continue so we three sisters Gail, Libby,
and Jane, used a small inheritance from our aunt
to purchase the shop."
Now the sisters are looking for a likeminded
owner to take over the business...
Says Gail: "We have kept e Feminist Bookshop
going into its 37th year, and for us it has now been
29 years, and we feel it is time for a change. It is a
time of change in the book industry and we want the
shop to continue on with new young and energetic
women with brilliant internet, computer and online
skills who will be able to carry the shop further into
its 21st century potential. We know there is still
a great need for the friendly, compassionate and
knowledgeable ser vices we have provided."
Indeed much has changed since the sisters rst
took over the business nearly three decades ago --
the rise of digital technolog y has had a big impact
on the business. Comments Libby: " e internet
has made our business easier -- we can search
for any title and get in anything we or anyone
wants. When we rst started it was a cash/cheque
business -- nowadays no-one uses cash much, it is
all credit card or internet banking."
Still running a niche business like TFB is
not without challenges, according to Gail
it's important to "keep reaching out to new
customers, to nd ways to publicise our bookshop
without a huge advertising budget, and to keep
explaining our very expansive and inclusive ideas
Whilst Libby insists "Not disappearing under
the mountain of books beside my bed and
actually turning the light o ," can be the hardest
part of her day...
Understandably the sisters are reluctant to
let go of their 'baby' but a er so many years it is
time to move on... still there's no doubt wherever
they end up a er this, there will be books in their
future... O ers Libby: "I plan to keep reading, to
nish o my many knitting projects, to learn lace-
making in Italy, to teach knitting again, and have
fun." As for Gail her plans are simple:
"Rest, recreation, probably some travel, and
to immerse myself in books I haven't had time to
If you are interested in purchasing The Feminist
Bookshop please contact Gail or Libby via
Spill the beans
Partners Vanessa Pagano and Belle Raine
have set up shop in LOTL HQ opening up
a new coffee bar whose emphasis will be
on delivering a cionados of the world's
beloved bean with a tasty fair-trade brew
and homemade treats for those that like a
sweet or two...
Both girls have a passion for coffee that began at an
early age -- Vanessa's Italian heritage inspiring a love for
espresso while Belle admits she got the coffee bug after
"working with great baristas who taught me the real art
in making coffee". The pair met whilst working at the
Art Gallery of NSW's cafe, where Belle was barista and
Vanessa was serving an apprenticeship, the inspiration
to start their own coffee shop came about as they are
"both passionate about being in business for ourselves".
"We share a love of coffee and work really well
together," says Belle. "The best job to have is a job
revolving around your deepest passion."
According to Belle and Vanessa the best coffee is
"made from the heart". "So many factors go into making
a perfect coffee. The bean needs to be nurtured from
plantation to coffee cup in every process" they say.
So what makes a great cup of coffee? "It requires
understanding to make a truly great coffee. You need
to know the reasons behind what you are doing. People
think that when they are given the opportunity to make
coffee, they run straight to the milk and want to learn how
to do a pattern, when that has the least importance in the
avour of a great coffee."
Indeed this pair's focus will be on delivering a great
coffee experience to the customer. "We will be serving
our own blend of organic fairtrade coffee in biodegradable
cups and keeping our end of the deal with mother nature
and will promote others to do the same." says Belle.
As for the vibe? According to Belle,"It will be relaxed
Visit the girls at the LOTL Espresso bar, 24a
Rosebank St, Darlinghurst, NSW. Open 7 days.
Libby and Gail reveal a love of literature that's lasted a lifetime
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