- Tell us something about yourself, your background:
When I was young I always knew that I wanted to be a physiotherapist. But, after applying to University, I had second thoughts, and decided to keep my options open by studying Physiology at Bristol Uni. Not really knowing where it would take me, I became interested in pharmaceuticals – particularly the young, savvy sales and marketing reps that were very engaging on the milk rounds. I liked the excitement of marketing and sales, and got my first job in sales for an IT company (I didn’t have enough experience of pharma yet!). After 5 years, I moved on and joined a marketing agency, climbing the ranks to become Sales Director at 24. The role expanded to Sales and Marketing Director and I enjoyed this for 11 years, working with blue chip brands to define their new business strategies with them.
Whilst at this company, at the age of 32, my partner and I decided to set up a business. We saw it more of a hobby initially, combining his passion of renovating vintage VW campervans, with my more commercial sense of a desire to make money. We decided to convert an old VW that he was given, to a coffee van, and enjoy attending events whilst earning some money.
I fell pregnant whilst we were renovating our first van, and soon we were working 2 jobs, running a coffee business and becoming parents for the first time. It was fun but we worked weekdays and weekends throughout the summer, and it was exhausting.
After having my second child, I knew I couldn’t keep spinning all those plates. So I took the hard decision to leave my full-time marketing agency role where I was a shareholder, and looked for a part-time role. I was lucky to find one locally in marketing, for another IT company, and enjoyed spending more time growing the coffee business, whilst retaining some financial stability. After 4 years, I finally felt confident enough to go full time in the coffee business and so, in 2019, I did just that. When Covid 19 hit, the business was put on hold overnight, which is when I took the decision to go back to marketing and become a freelancer – setting up my own business called The Blurb.
I now work across both businesses and really enjoy each of them. My marketing consultancy has really taken off – so much so that I have had to turn customers away, whereas the coffee business is a lot of fun, being more physically demanding but different in that is a project by project business. I like being able to close of an event with Camper Cafe and put it to bed, knowing it’s been delivered well. I’m in a really great place at the moment as I have options to expand both businesses, but I’ve learnt that for me, variety retains my interest and passion.
I have learnt that the way forwards for me is to stay working across both businesses and enjoy each of them, taking the learnings from each noe to benefit the other.
- List your ventures with a brief explanation of each:
Camper Café Limited is a mobile coffee business founded in 2011. We sell coffee at large sporting events like Henley Regatta, but are also hired by corporates for staff events and rewards, sales promotional tours, and customer events, and work on commercial ads and film shoots. We provide high quality mobile coffee, really focussing on the quality of our coffee and service.
The Blurb is my marketing consultancy, working largely in the digital space with start-ups and fast-growing businesses to create strategies and drive growth. I really enjoy the fast pace of start-ups and SMEs where I can make a huge difference and be really agile.
- How/Why did you start as an entrepreneur? What set you off?
I started as an Entrepreneur accidentally. My partner is more of a risk taker than I am, giving up the corporate life way before me. I felt a secure, salaried job was sensible with 2 young kids. But as my experience grew, and our coffee business was organically thriving, it gave me the confidence that we could earn enough for me to go full time and test the business’ potential. My partner has been very supportive, encouraging me to leave my job and find my own success.
I have realised that my partner and I make an awesome team, with opposite skill sets that complimented each other. So we discuss business a lot, and fill in the gaps for each other. It really helps to sanity check yourself when you’re not sure where you’re going.
Covid gave me the push I needed to find another way to earn money, other than the coffee business. Having been a Sales & Marketing Director for years at a high level, and working at a more functional level in marketing, I was able to bring my experience to SME’s and start-ups, and I have been really fortunate in that my clients have all found me. Having my own business really helps me to relate to my clients and understand their balance between risk and reward. It means I can take a lot of the responsibility away from them, and they have confidence in my experience.
- Tell us about each of your ventures:
Camper Café Limited: When we started Camper Café, there were very few coffee vans or street food vans on the market. Thanks to my marketing background I managed to build a website, and optimised it for SEO. As there wasn’t much competition back then, this was, and remains, our main source of business.
In our first year, I enquired to lots of events and found the biggest challenge here was entering a new market. People said they had tea and coffee covered, but really it was instant or filter coffee from a burger van, whilst we knew that our offering was quirky, new and much better quality. We got the best response from VW events, and booked ourselves into these for our first summer. The response from customers was phenomenal – people loved the concept and soon we were getting enquiries for weddings and other events flooding in. We had lots of interest, including press coverage from the BBC.
We grew our events market, and picked up some weddings, but we knew that we needed to find week-day work if we were to make this a viable business. We didn’t want a regular pitch on a business park, as it wouldn’t keep us interested, so I started approaching brands I knew.
Over the years, thanks to our corporate backgrounds and sales and marketing experience with the website, plus corporate backgrounds which helped us to convert enquiries, we have won an amazing number of brands that I love including RedBull, Jack Wills, FatFace, Marriott, eBay, Samsung, hush, University of Law and many more.
There’s still a lot of potential in the business, but the preparation that goes into each event, and long hours, means that we now focus on fewer, larger events over the summer months and more corporate branding work during the week, where we have found our niche.
The Blurb: When it comes to my marketing consultancy, I work with 4 clients that have similarities in that they want me to help drive digital presence, but each are at difference stages of growth and require different levels of input.
My first client just required Google Ads expertise and I still work with them on this basis. My second – I now lead the marketing strategy and team to explore new areas of revenue growth for this marketing leading brand. It is a highly transactional business with a low price point, and I spend a lot of time analysing data trends, and forecasting the changing strategy requirements. I also work with 2 start-ups, helping consult on early stage website build and content creation, through to SEO, branding and moving onto the marketing strategy.
I use a lot of marketing tools and love to automate as much as possible with the likes of Dux-Soup’s LinkedIn automation tool , Hubspot CRM, email, Google Analytics etc. This is where it gets exciting for me, and there are so many tools to help build automated workflows that make processes easier and growth more scalable.
- Website & Social Media Links:
Website: Click HERE
Facebook: Click HERE
Twitter: Click HERE
Instagram: Click HERE
LinkedIn: Click HERE
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