CAFE MIAMI- WHAT IT TAKES TO OPEN YOUR OWN CAFÉ
It sounds cheesy (which I am a lot of the time!) but I honestly couldn’t have got things going with the Café without the help of my friends & family. All of my friends came along and helped me over the weekends and sometimes through the night to get the place up and running; with anything and everything - from stamping cups to painting skirting boards and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.
USE YOUR CONNECTIONS-TO FIND THE PERFECT LOCATION
On the business side of things I had a great deal of help at the start from a close friend who helped me with the legal side of signing the lease on the space. We’d worked together for many years - finding the right location for fashion brands to open their stores in London. It was actually him that I first called on when I decided that I was really ready to open somewhere. I hadn’t even told my family I wanted to do it until we found the space!
TO CREATE THE MENU AND GET THE BEST EQUIPMENTS
Another person I really couldn’t have got here without the help of is the chef who worked with me at the café where I worked throughout school and uni. He now owns his own restaurant, Ravel’s - in Gospel Oak, and his help and advice was invaluable to me when getting started. He took me to the catering shop to help me choose which equipment & appliances I needed for my menu, took me to the cash & carry to help me select ingredients and came and worked with me in the Café during the first couple of weeks until I felt ready to do it alone! I had so many ideas in the beginning of what I wanted to do and he told me I needed to simplify the menu, both for my benefit and my customers. He also helped me loads with presentation and taught me how to use a carrot peeler to make flowers out of beetroot without cutting the tops of my fingers off!!
TO CREATE LOGO AND PRODUCT DESIGN
On the creative side I was really fortunate to have the help of friends I had worked with during my time in fashion. One of my closest friends, Matthew Mumford, is an Art Director and he worked with me on my logo & product design. He plays a really big part in the business; helping me with branding ideas, photography and all general aesthetic decisions, no matter how big or small. We are constantly texting each other random pictures, light fixtures, art deco inspiration, branding & cakes!
That was one of the things I found the hardest when setting the place up - when it’s your own business every single decision, down to a light switch, is on you and you alone. So it’s super important to have friends who understand your taste and vision, but can also give you another perspective, to help you come to a quick decision that you’ll be happy with.
TO HELP WITH PR
I also had the help of my friends Naomi & Adam from AI PR (who manage the PR for brands like Loewe, Carhartt, JW Anderson & APC ) who I had worked with for over 10 years before, so we knew each other really well, which is super important to me. I needed to know at every step of the way that I was working with people that I could trust.
They helped me to put together a communications plan and we organised a launch event together, which got the business off to a really strong start, as they knew all the right people to invite that lived in the area.
AND OF COURSE- THE HELP OF FAMILY
My mum played, and still plays, the most important part of help with the cooking - she bakes a lot of the cakes and all of our homemade jams - including the sweet chilli which is everyone’s favourite on the menu!
In terms of finances, I was really adamant that I didn’t want to take a loan from anyone, as I didn’t want the added pressure of having to pay anyone / a bank back! I also really didn’t want to compromise on anything I wanted to do, which I would have had to with a business partner or a private loan. I’d been saving for a while to do something of my own, I didn’t know it was for a café when I started saving, but I knew I needed to have money in order to quit my job and get out there on my own and having savings always helped me to keep on pushing forward with work, no matter how tough it got, as I always believed it was for the greater good of my future (sorry, cheesy again!)
I also continued to work freelance in fashion for the first few months after opening and I still take on some work here & there, when I can fit it in, as I like to use different parts of my brain and think about something different sometimes. It can be a lot to juggle at times, but I find it important to separate myself from the business every now and then, for my own sanity!