Jenna Hemsworth


Bartender, Black Pearl, 304 Brunswick St, Fitzroy


Actual job: Bartender

What are you passionate about? Science. How things work. Cats. Making people happy. Hospitality. Learning new skills ( I just did a cheese making course which was fantastic and I got a certificate that says I am now a Master Cheese Maker)

What drives you? The constant desire for self improvement. Listening to cocktail freaks like Nate talk about crazy off-beat recipes and the history or story behind the,. Always makes me want to learn more. Not feeling like I'm good enough also drives me to be better. It sounds negative but the constant motivation of 'you can do better than that' always in the back of my mind, driving me forward to do what I previously thought I couldn't.

Who and or what inspires you? Watching people who love what they do, in any industry. Seeing people's passion makes me want to improve on mine. Reading, something about the romantic pattern of words in old books gets my brain ticking over. Looking on my past achievements and how far I have come always gives me pleasure to know that hard work gets results and gets me dreaming on the 'Next Big Achievement'

Who has helped you become the person you are? My mum. Ever since I was a young, nerdy kid, science was all I was interested in. Every birthday or Christmas all I wanted was a telescope, microscope, chemistry set, anything to do with science. I was obsessed. My mum obviously wanted me to follow my dreams and so was super supportive of giving me all the tools necessary to achieve that. So after graduating from university with a bachelor of biomedical science, the next logical step was of course, my dream career working toward conducting autopsies. This was just about the time that I started really excelling in my field in hospitality, so whilst that dream is still on hold, I feel I have some more to give to the bartending world.  Even though my mum asks me every time I see her when I'm going back to become 'a doctor', she is very proud of me and supportive of my career choice. She's the best.

What qualities do you value? Earnest. Honest (just honest workers in all aspects of life). Hard workers. Generosity (again, of everything, generosity of time, spirit, knowledge, anything). Self-assuredness, that kind of quiet confidence that just lets you know this person has got it sorted.


"Find who you are and you use that to your advantage. Your quirks will be the biggest key to your success. Practice perspective every day. From the big picture to night to night service - our jobs are essentially to serve others. There is no room for ego. Practice generosity of character. When I serve people, it can be emotionally draining because I give a lot of myself to ensure my guests have an exceptional experience. That actually sounds horrible - that it drains me to nice to people. Hopefully you know what I mean, when you get nothing from most people every night, constantly giving your all can just be exhausting when you get nothing back"

What change do you want to see in the industry? I don't quite know how to answer that, but I certainly want to be the change in this industry.

What are you or others doing to encourage this change? Supporting my peers and not bringing them down. Standing up for myself and calling out shit behaviour when I see it. Rude and intolerant behaviour is never okay, I think people will have a look at themselves and how they act if they get their head pulled in for being a dick. Especially when I tell them, they won't forget too soon. We need to respect and tolerate each other a little more. Take time to celebrate the successes, but make sure you always put your head down when shit hits the fan and your team needs to you to get on with the busy work.

What change do you want to see in the world? More people doing what they love, and not what they feel like they have to do. You kind of tend to be satisfied in life if you're doing fulfilling and worthwhile things (whatever those things mean to you), and people tend to be less destructive or anti-social when they're satisfied and happy. More common sense, which isn't so common in the world. More tolerance of each other.

What is your experience as a female in this industry been like? 

Not great. I'm not going to lie and say it has been roses when it's been really, really hard. It has definitely made me appreciate hard work more than if I weren't pushed as hard, or put down as much, or told I can't do things because of how I was born. It's getting better though, it's always really tough starting out, especially so young as a female not knowing anything and having to rely on other people to train you. People are more interested in what you look like instead of what you can do. Most of my 'mentor-like' teachers who taught me the basics of cocktail making have been girls, and they were so very patient with me. I was lucky in that respect that I had such patient and supportive people to learn off and answer my millions of questions. The guys who have been mentors to me have usually been just as patient. Even though all of my negative experiences based on gender have come from guys, you can't say all guys share that mentality. The majority of people in this industry tend to be supportive and inclusive, and the ones that aren't tend to not be worth anyone's time to begin with so they aren't really important to me. Opportunities like this really help us as women to band together and support each other, revel in each other's successes and achievements and give each other reason to want to improve and strive for bigger goals

I've been shoved over, spat on (in the face!!), bottled, had drinks thrown on me, been groped, verbally abused, threatened, followed to my car after work- the shit-list goes on. Still, the worst experiences I have had in the industry have been the mental games that go on with negatively minded coworkers toward me. The older and more experienced I have gotten, the more assertive I have learnt to be, however being a really strong woman isn't enough in some places. With the wrong person as your superior, you will automatically be fighting a losing battle every day. It is very unfortunate that some dream venues I have worked in have had to end because of these reasons.

Sometimes you need to speak up, and make a bit of a fuss. You just need to go about it the right way. I'd love to tell you what that is- I still haven't got it quite right, feel free to let me know if you do.