Back in 2011, twenty-one year old me decided to start a business. I launched a digital and print magazine for my local area. Looking back now, it must have been conceived in a moment of madness; I had no experience of print, design, sales or editing. I worked at my Parent’s kitchen table from a laptop that would refuse to stay on for more than twenty minutes. Twelve months of grit, hustle, 66,000 copies, a very steep learning curve and an award later, I sold the magazine on and was ready to start my next adventure. I had no idea at the time but that adventure turned out to be this blog.
So here I am, a blogger and recipe developer, still self employed, but now in an industry I feel hugely passionate about. I now work from an office in my own house, on a laptop that stays on- hallelujah!
When my first blog post went live, I sat and watched the single figure stat count. “How long until this grows?”, I thought. Building that audience takes time whether you’re selling words or artisan bread. It’s the same persistence and the same late nights. But, work at it long enough and they will come. I honestly think that there are only two ways to make that happen any quicker; an expert mentor and the money to push forward.
I was contacted last week by a company doing just that; a start-up scheme to support young food and drink entrepreneurs. Fine food producer, Cotswold Fayre is offering a grant of £1,000, a year of mentoring from their founder and time with their in-house designer to improve brand identity. They’re now seeking out their 2015 candidates.
Research shows that only 4% of young businesses make it to a wage providing profit and Paul, the founder of Cotswold Fayre, wants to do his part to see that number grow by investing his time in an up and coming business. I know from experience that launching a business as a young person can be incredibly difficult so I’d love to see someone get that helping hand.
Last year, the recipient was Chris Hannaway who launched Overly, the all natural sports drink. Six months down the line, they’re stocked by Harvey Nichols, Whole Foods and Planet Organic. They’re now pushing forward in to gym chains and widening their brand to reach a bigger audience, all under the expert guidance that the start up scheme offers.
Entries for the start up scheme close on 30 June 2015. The application form can be found by following this link.
My home county, Cumbria, is a hive of food and drink businesses. There are some that have been here since the 1800s; Grasmere Gingerbread, Farrer’s Coffee. Then there’s the new businesses, that have and flourished, not just in their own county but nationwide. You could tour the county via it’s artisan spirit distilleries, microbreweries, preserves kitchens, bakeries, michelin star restaurants and have some of the best produce of your life. I’d be thrilled to see one of our newer businesses secure this grant.
To highlight one of my favourite local food & drink success stories, I have to mention Lake District Farmers in this post.
They supply an incredible quality of meat to an exclusive, invitation only list of the countries finest dining establishments. Their focus on the highest quality meat, produced from sustainable, fair trade farming, plays straight from my own food ethics and I’m incredibly proud to note them as a Cumbrian business.
If you know of anyone that has recently entered the food and drink business and is ready to take it to the next level, please make sure you pass this post along to them. You could be the reason that 2015 is their best year yet.