Black Star Pastry


Black Star Pastry’s chef and founder Christopher The will share his insight into starting and growing a successful small business when he kicks off the City of Sydney’s free Business 101 seminar series for 2016.

The success of Christopher’s strawberry and melon cake – which started with a friend’s request to create a “really romantic” wedding cake and quickly went viral through social media pictures – added queues and pressure on his Newtown café, forcing the chef to become a problem solver.
Today, Cristopher’s mouth-watering cake sells up to 4,000 slices a day, across Black Star’s three Sydney locations. 

“I couldn’t meet the demand and I was disappointing customers,” he said. “I had the product, but behind the scenes it was a shambles. There were many sleepless nights just wondering if the business would survive.” 

Christopher joins an impressive line up of top Sydney business operators who will be addressing the Business 101 seminars – including The Grounds of Alexandria co-owner Jack Hanna, tech start-up Maestrano co-founder Stephane Obos and Mary’s Burgers director Jacob Smyth. 

They’ll be offering advice and insights for tech start-ups, opening a live music venue, brand building and transforming traditional business ventures into unique customer experiences. 

Christopher said that in hindsight he made “a lot of silly decisions” before refining his recipe for success.
“I always thought that if you were passionate and had a great product that was all you needed to succeed in business, but that’s just not true. There’s a whole lot of skills you need to run a sustainable business that continues to grow. 

“Profit is the reality of any business, and for that you need to learn about accounting, you need strong leadership and management skills. A little bit of learning can save you years in the wilderness, or even bankruptcy. 

“You need to change your mindset from being the creator of a product to being a problem-solving business person. A session like this Business 101 seminar is a great first step to getting a business up and running.”

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the seminars were ideal for both emerging and established businesses to learn from some of Sydney’s most successful business leaders. 

“For five years now these seminars have offered practical information, creative solutions and innovative guidance to operating a business in Sydney,” the Lord Mayor said. 

“It’s also a unique opportunity to network with business people who have valuable advice and inspiring stories to share.

“Small to medium-sized businesses are an incredibly important part of our city – for the significant economic contribution they make and for the diversity and vibrancy they bring.

“If you’re a business operator come along to one of these seminars and leave fired up up with enthusiasm and equipped with practical advice and information to get your business under way.” 

Ten free seminars will run from March to November, covering everything from the basics of setting up a small business, practical advice on common issues new businesses face and tips on how to market a business online. Each seminar will also feature Q and A sessions with industry experts and City staff. 

All Business 101 seminars will be held at Customs House from 6.30pm–8.30pm. The sessions are:

  • So you want to start, grow or rebrand your business? – 9 March
  • Consuming passions – starting a creative business – 12 April
  • Plug in your tech start-up – 9 May
  • Not your average small business – 15 June
  • Cult following – your brand, your business – 1 July
  • Bringing in the music – 10 August
  • Growing pains – avoiding the pitfalls of your own success – 7 September
  • The rocky road less travelled – new takes on traditional businesses – 5 October
  • Going against the grain – new business concepts – 2 November
  • Late starters – keeping the doors open for night-time trade – 30 November 

All sessions are free, but bookings are essential. For more information or to register, visit: