SELF TALK w/
founder of SLAINES
What made you want to start SLAINES?
My dad is Belgian, he’s been making bread ever since I can remember, my parents had a coffee shop when I was younger. They were never really happy until they had the shop, it was always in my mind that I wanted a coffee shop ever since. My dad had to do a partnership with someone when he had his shop, but said when he had his own he was going to call it ‘Slaines’. So I thought I’ll just do it myself! Slaine’s Coffee.
My boyfriend was offered a coffee pitch, as he does street food. Then we thought, we might as well do it! We quit our jobs and that’s how it happened. We have plans to have spots outside tube stations next month, which is exciting because we only started a year ago. We had a pitch till April which became a popular hub for people to visit. It was great all of our customers were mainly business men, who wanted to get their little secrets out to someone. They’d come and tell us about their stresses, business issues, home life, children, they would chill for ages! It was like a safe haven, someone they speak to everyday but they didn’t actually know us. They’re all under so much stress, they just want to get out and take a walk and have a break, which we never thought would happen but now it's so nice to have that come with the job.
What's the next step?
We’re looking at having a space in Harlesden, an actual shop rather than a pitch. Like a grocery corner shop but with a deli, selling plants and a display for youth and single mum clubs. We want to give back to the community that we’ve been supported by through our own journey! Our cart was completely by accident, we met a guy at White Cross who had this cart who said Do you want it? I’ll sell it to you. Bought it and mixed up our own custom paint, now the cart is pink.
How have you found it being a woman in business?
I don’t think it’s affected me, but I think you have to have a certain personality rather than sex. The only challenge as a woman has been physical for me because I’m not strong enough to push the stuff up I’ve needed help. Apart from that I’d say it’s more about your personality, I’ve suffered my whole life with anxiety, but this has actually helped my anxiety. Being at the forefront and the face of the business, it pushes you and now I’m ten times more confident. I love it thought, my favourite part of it is the people which I didn’t think would be me. But the regulars actually want to give you money and invest in what you’re doing.
How do you maintain a work life balance?
I say no work after seven, no emails and going to bed on time. I was going to bed at nine pm, I have to get my ten hours sleep. But for sure it’s affected my social life, I haven’t done anything big for almost a year but I don’t care.
What do you think you would have told a younger you?
That what you wanted can happen, because I always wanted a coffee shop it was always on my mind. But I didn’t want to study business at uni, I ended up doing a film production degree. My boyfriend studied sound design at uni, we hope to create documentaries.
What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in starting a business?
I think research lots, find your inspiration, your target audience, your locations. I’ve worked in retail for four years, being in head office i’ve learnt a lot. I worked in wetherspoons, it was my first job, which taught me a lot about cleanliness, they’re on such scrutiny with hygiene because they’ll just shut you down.