Sweet contrast: how an auditor became the owner of a downtown Sudbury cafe

The owner of the Cedar Nest Decor Cafe in downtown Sudbury left her detailed, documented past behind to create the job she craved for decades.

The owner of the Cedar Nest Decor Cafe left behind her detailed, documented past for her dream gig

Sue Peters sips on a cappuccino she made in her cafe in downtown Sudbury. The entrepreneur made a big career switch last year that's already paying off mentally. (Samantha Samson/CBC News)

It's 7:45 on a weekday morning in downtown Sudbury. While others might be heading to their office job or getting the kids ready for school, Sue Peters is turning on the espresso machine in her cafe.

As she makes herself a cappuccino while wearing a flowing dress and a Sunday-best hat, Peters isn't exactly what you might picture when you think "auditor."

And yet, that's what she did for 20 years.

"My main career was in quality control. I worked for different companies and would look at their systems, how they were doing things," she says.

"I would control the procedures to make sure they were always in the most current revision to make sure the product they were producing were the best quality they could be."

Cafe idea gnawed away for decades

Peters owns the Cedar Nest Decor Cafe. The shop opened in April, and has already become a staple for high tea and knick-knacks. Peters says she's made enough money to expand to the space next door.

Peters and her daughter Andraya Zanibbi work together in the cafe. The two say they both log about 60 hours a week each to make sure the business runs smoothly. (Samantha Samson/CBC News)

But this day-to-day life of coffee beans and quirky statement pieces was a pipe dream for a long time, says Peters.

"I managed to drive myself crazy over the years, thinking about it and not doing anything," she says.

"It started to become a difficult and negative vision — it was so difficult to want it so badly but not being able to have it or be brave enough to go get it."

She says the idea gnawed away at her for decades until she read a self-help, entrepreneurial book by Arlene Dickinson.

"I had a breakdown in a sense where I was realizing I had to be all in, or all out," she says.

"To be all out meant I couldn't tell my girls to follow their dreams because that would be hypocritical, and that was absolutelty devastating to me. So I woke up the next morning and I literally never looked backwards."

'There's a procedure for everything'

The cozy store shows no hint of her strict, procedure-driven past, but that's exactly how Peters says she runs her shop.

Sue Peters makes each product in her store "just so," every time. The owner of the Cedar Nest Decor Cafe says she has written documents for every procedure. (Samantha Samson/CBC News)

"There's a procedure for everything. Everything is done the same way, everything is efficient and we're always looking for ways to improve," she says.

"I think my background really helps me run my own business. I understand the important of documentation for employees to learn how to do their job."

As she makes turkey-havarti sandwhiches, Peters folds the meat in half, then flips it over to lie vertically on the bread (which is buttered to the very end of the crust, every time).

'Don't wait'

This stark juxtaposition of quality control to bric-a-brac is a reflection of Peters's personality, she says.

The products and food in Peters' store are inspired by her love of crafts and the Victorian era. (Samantha Samson/CBC News)

If anyone is contemplating a career change in the future, Peters says the best thing they can do is "don't wait."

"Everyone's life has difference circumstances, and you have to pay attention to those things," she says.

"But listen to that thing that keeps coming back in your head that won't leave you alone. You need to honour that."