Bali Women in Business. Meet Gypsy, Owner of The Shady Shack
March 30, 20235 min read
I couldn't be more excited to introduce this interview with Australian Ex-Pat living in Bali for more than 15 years, Gypsy. Gypsy is the creator & co-owner of long-time popular Canggu Cafe, The Shady Shack. aka. Your must-visit Vegetarian haven on a back street close to our store in Echo Beach.
If you have been to Canggu, there's a 9/10 chance that you have had the pleasure of visiting one of Gypsy's insanely busy cafes. The Shady Shack cafe is Canggu's most popular cafe, serving up fresh and delicious Vegetarian meals from sun-up to sundown. Perched on a used-to-be quiet back street of Canggu, The Shady Shack attracts ex-pats and tourists all day long. From post yoga hangs, work sessions, meetings, after-surf meal, their healthy Salads, burritos, Nachos (a must try!) Smoothie Bowls, snack platters and deserts are guaranteed to hit the spot, no matter the time of day.
We spoke to the legend lady, Gypsy Wilson-Webster, who created the Vegetarian Shady Shack concept cafe with her long-time partner. Someone who designs and sustains a cafe this popular from the day it opened its doors, is well worth chatting to!
Where abouts were you born & raised?
I was born in Brunei and have lived as an expat most of my life in Holland, Scotland, Nigeria, USA, Japan, Australia and Indonesia
How long have you been lucky enough to call Bali home?
I have lived and called Bali home for over 15 years now
What area of Bali do you live in?
I live in Pererenan, only 5 minutes by bike from Canggu
>What is your favourite thing about your neighbourhood? (And any epic food spots we must try in your hood…)
I live in a very quiet part of Pererenan which feels like a sanctuary away from the action and the busyness but also close enough to walk to some of my favorite cafes and restaurants like Shelter, Leblon, Rize and Mostly
What brought you to the island initially?
My father passed away and my mother brought my sisters and I to Bali to spend some time together. I instantly felt at home here with the climate, food, people, sights and smells. It felt very nostalgic and familiar to our life in Brunei.
What do you do for work here in Bali?
My partner and I are the owners of a vegetarian wholefoods cafe called the Shady Shack in Canggu. When I arrived I worked briefly for Karma Kandara and also did a small stint in real estate before starting Betelnut Cafe the first cafe in Canggu with my partner.
Amazing! What does a ‘general’ day look like for you?
I wake up around 6am every day, walk my 3 dogs, eat a dragonfruit and do half an hour of yoga.I then head to Shady Shack and spend the morning doing the social media and spend some time managing the floor. I usually eat breakfast and then do any ordering of merchandise and communicating with suppliers etc. Lunch is usually at the cafe or a few times a week somewhere else with my partner and then its back to work on the floor. In the afternoons I catch up on emails and messages and often make some of the desserts for the cafe. Around 5pm I walk the dogs again and make dinner or head out for dinner with a friend. By then I’m pretty tired so usually watch a little Netflix or read and head to bed around 9 or 10pm.
Biggest challenges of navigating running an insanely busy cafe in a foreign country?
Where do I start haha… I think there are definitely a few different challenges every day on both sides of a hospitality business in bali. Staffing can be tricky with so many Indonesian holidays and ceremonies. Also the constant maintanance of owning a partially outdoor cafe that is exposed to the elements like extreme heat, torrential rain and gale force winds. Suppliers not showing up or the bank closing for a red day when all the staff wages are due. Also trying to please so many different palettes and preferences of guests from all around the world that dine with us.
Do you have any mentors/awesome humans that you work alongside with to grow / create / navigate this crazy ride of business?
Yes I have worked with my work/life partner in the business for about 12 years. Of course like any work relationship it has had its challenges but fortunately we see eye to eye on most things and try to stick to our strengths and departments so as not burden each other with every small decision. We often comment that if one of us isn’t at the cafe on a particular day we miss each other so I guess that’s a good thing ;)
What does 2023 look like for Gypsy & Shady Shack?
Fortunately 2023 has started well. The cafe is busy again after the quiet spell we had during Covid. We have also have a villa project on the go which is going to keep us busy. My favorite part of a new project is the design and interiors, so I am looking forward to that creative process again.
As for me I would love to do a bit more traveling this year as I haven’t been away other than a quick trip to Australia. There will definitely be some smaller trips in Indonesia and hopefully an overseas trip as well.
Whats does your weekend usually consist of? Any secret Spa’s or anything we should know about?
Being in hospitality I work most weekends but if I do take some time off I might treat myself to a couple of hours at a spa. I think the secret is already out but I love Gold Dust for their great treatments and also lovely staff. I also spend as much time as possible with my 3 rescue dogs.
Do you have any favourite getaway spots that you love to go to when you’re looking to ‘tap out’ for a few days?
That’s a tough question as there are so many great getaway spots on the island. We always try to go somewhere we haven’t been or revisit some of our favorites like Pemuteran, Munduk, Bedugal Sideman, the bukit, Ubud or Candi Dasa.
Finally, Ultimate favourite thing about Bali? (We know theres 1001!)
Another super tough question and I don’t have just one ;) I love the tropical climate (except this years never ending wet season), the extremely welcoming and hospital people and all the delicious, inexpensive, world class cuisine you can find all over the island.
Thank you so much for your time Gypsy!
Through both of Gypsy's popular Canggu cafes (Betelnut is now closeds), she has managed to create the perfect fusion of delicious fresh food, comfort, friendliness, cute decor and and of course, some of the most more-ish treats you will get to enjoy while in Bali. If there was one cafe I could bring home with me from Bali, it would be Shady Shack hands down (Literally the first thing I do when I get off the plane and land in Bali is head straight to the Shady Shack for the Rice Roll Ups, Hoping they're not sold out - which they often are!) Her menu is next level.
For those reading this, be sure to visit Shady Shack on your next trip to Bali. No plans to visit the island yet? Check out the Shady Shack on instagram for endless vege-foodspiration.
Our Women in Business in Bali series will continue next month, interviewing another talented lady, making it all happen on our magical island of Bali.
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