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    Mum-of-four, 45, who lost her job as a travel agent at the start of the pandemic buys an old horse float and transforms it into a pop up event BAR – and business is already booming

    • Melonie Vujicic worked as a travel agent in Perth before COVID-19 shut borders
    • The 45-year-old always wanted to start her own business and felt this was time
    • So she spent $8,000-$10,000 renovating a secondhand horse float to do up
    • Melonie now operates Hitch’d Pop Up Bar with 21 events already booked in
    • She pours beverages for event guests out of the transportable horse float 

    A mother-of-four who found herself jobless at the start of the pandemic has transformed a secondhand horse float into a pop up bar for weddings, and is already cashing in.  

    Melonie Vujicic, 45, from Perth in Western Australia, had been working full-time as a travel agent before Covid travel restrictions prevented movement across borders.

    ‘I became permanently stood down and as a mother of four, I was looking to start another business venture to supplement my income,’ she told FEMAIL.

    Melonie Vujicic, 45, from Perth in Western Australia, had been working full-time as a travel agent before restrictions prevented movement across borders and into any other country

    'I became permanently stood down and as a mother of four, I was looking to start another business venture to supplement my income,' she told FEMAIL

    ‘I became permanently stood down and as a mother of four, I was looking to start another business venture to supplement my income,’ she told FEMAIL

    Melonie had toyed with the idea of starting a business before but it wasn’t until she started seeing portable bars on her Pinterest feed that a proposal took hold. 

    ‘I’ve always been drawn to the bridal industry, and have a strong background as a business owner, so I thought a mobile pop up bar might be a fun, quirky thing to do for someone’s special day,’ she said.

    ‘After doing some research and finding that nothing like that existed in Perth, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head.’

    So when she was stood down Melonie began searching for a secondhand cart, which she found and ordered on Gumtree two weeks later.  

    Melonie had toyed with the idea of starting a business before but it wasn't until she started seeing portable bars on her Pinterest feed that a proposal took hold

    Melonie had toyed with the idea of starting a business before but it wasn’t until she started seeing portable bars on her Pinterest feed that a proposal took hold

    So when she was stood down Melonie began searching for a secondhand cart, which she found and ordered on Gumtree two weeks later

    The purchase and renovation set her and husband Ivan back $8,000-$10,000, with more than half of the final products sourced from secondhand websites

    So when she was stood down Melonie began searching for a secondhand cart, which she found and ordered on Gumtree two weeks later

    The purchase and renovation set her and husband Ivan back $8,000-$10,000, with more than half of the final products sourced from secondhand websites. 

    ‘First, we gutted it out and assessed the best way to make use of the space. Then, we focused on upcycling secondhand items to revamp the horse float and transform it into the charismatic pop up bar it is now,’ she said.

    ‘We stripped it back down to the frame, and bought some cladding secondhand for $150 which would have cost $900 at Bunnings. 

    ‘I then used Gumtree to source a marquee, stools, pretty fixtures, coach lights, and more – some items even for free.’ 

    'I then used Gumtree to source a marquee, stools, pretty fixtures, coach lights, and more - some items even for free,' Melonie said

    ‘I then used Gumtree to source a marquee, stools, pretty fixtures, coach lights, and more – some items even for free,’ Melonie said

    Melonie’s top DIY tips and tricks: 

    1. If you’re looking to upcycle something from a secondhand online marketplace like Gumtree, always start with the freebies section. As well as finding unbelievable bargains, online marketplaces are a great way to find something a little bit different and unique, that you won’t find in a shop.

    2. To kick start my ideas and design process, I always begin with creating a mood board. I personally use Pinterest to help me find and stick to an aesthetic as a starting point. Scroll through or search until you find an idea that sparks your interest, and then jump on Gumtree, using keywords like colours and basic product names to find exactly what you’re looking for.

    3. Paint is your best friend – it helps you think outside the box! You can practically transform just about anything with a coat of paint, so don’t over think it and ignore the naysayers. If you’re new to DIY or upcycling my biggest advice is just to give it a crack – worst case scenario, you can just sand it back!

    4. Be patient – if you don’t find what you’re looking for right away, give it some time, and eventually what you’re after will show up. I might not see what I’m looking for on the first day, but in a week, it will be the first thing that comes up.

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    To date, Melonie's Hitch'd Pop Up Bar business has 21 events booked in within a nine week trading period between 2020 and 2023

    To date, Melonie’s Hitch’d Pop Up Bar business has 21 events booked in within a nine week trading period between 2020 and 2023

    To date, Melonie’s Hitch’d Pop Up Bar business has 21 events booked in within a nine week trading period between 2020 and 2023. 

    At a minimum the base hire rate of the bar – which is aptly nicknamed ‘Filly’ – is $499, meaning the family will make a minimum of $10,479 for the events already booked. 

    ‘Filly’ is a full-service mobile bar that aims to offer affordable options to weddings and other special events and help avoid customers paying for drinks by the person, when so many guests either don’t drink or are driving.

    It’s equipped with a four tap keg system, dual battery set up, LED light-up icebox, shelving, storage, serving bench, chalkboard drinks menus, floral arrangements, photo stage with props and all staff are RSA approved. 

    The success of Melonie’s side project has been more than she ever could have imagined but without COVID-19 happening she doubts she would ever have taken the plunge. 

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