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Can you dig it? Don’t let me down.

Running my own business scares me every day.

Starting a business is so easy. You can just pop on to Companies House, pay a small fee and off you go. You’ve got your own business! Easy Peasy.  Maybe I’m missing something but it just never seems that easy in practice.

When I was setting up Fay’s at Riverside I doubted myself every day. Have I chosen the right colour tiles, is the location too far out of town, why had I painted that table leg blue, is beetroot in a chocolate cake really a good idea? The list goes on.

My biggest fear then, continues to be my biggest fear now. I don’t want to let anyone down.
I don’t want to let my family down who worked so hard to build up Fay’s when I was growing up and did just the most amazing job. I now have the ability to ruin that by not doing a good job with the current Fay’s and that sometimes feel like a big responsibility.
I don’t want to let me team down, I want to keep their jobs secure and I want to make sure they are happy coming into work. I want them to love what they do and have a great time together they bloomin’ deserve it.

I don’t want to let my customers down on a small or big scale because I will go home and dwell on the fact that I forgot to give table number 4 a napkin & maybe I didn’t make the lady that ordered the turkey and avocado bagel realise how happy she made me.
I don’t want to let my cats down because I share ALL my business thoughts, ideas and plans with them and I know they would be bitterly disappointed if things don’t work out. Especially Maverick, he’s all about the five year plan.
I don’t want to let myself down because its only me that knows how I want things to be, what my real goals are and so its me that know if I’m on my way to achieving that.
So I guess I spend most of my days just trying to not let people down and to do my best to make things as good as I can. It’s what motivates me and I get such a buzz by giving people a good experience when they come into the shop, by having a team who enjoy their jobs and by hopefully making my family proud. I think you have to care if you have your own business. To do it day in and day out.  I really, really care and I will never stop trying to make things better and to achieve new things and things that improve what we already have.
For those of you that know me well you will also know I love a challenge – see previous blog posts! I love to work hard, I love to be tested and I love to achieve things that I never thought I was capable of.  I also love rice krispies but I’ll save that for another time.
So, when I have been in discussions over opening a second coffee shop over the past few months I have weighed up all the above a million times.

Will having a second place mean I let someone down? Is there more chance of me letting my family down with a second place? Will I let myself down? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions but I do know that I’m going to try my absolute best not to. I know I’m going to work extra hard to make sure that having a second place is an opportunity to achieve more, to test myself, to make myself proud, to make my team proud of the things that we achieve together.
So I’m excited, scared, nervous and proud to let you all know that we now have a second Fays based at the wonderful Star Rowing club along our beautiful river. We officially open to the public on Monday 18th March and you are all so very welcome.

I hope you love it as much as I do.

Confessions Of A Magpie

I know you’ll find this hard to believe (especially coming from the creator of the turkey and avocado bagel) but I don’t always think of all the ideas for our little coffee shop all by myself. Sometimes I look on Pinterest. Sometimes I look on Instagram. Sometimes (always) I follow coffee shops from places far away under my personal account and take inspiration from their posts. Sometimes I visit new towns with a list of coffee shops to pop into to seek inspiration.

This next bit is hard to confess. Sometimes. Just sometimes, I’m an ideas thief.
Want to know the worst thing about that? I do it to local businesses. Yep, you heard it here first, I’m the worst kind.

To my coffee shop comrades. To my partners in crime. To my coffee colleagues. To the people I try to support. I just go in, I take a look around and I steal from them.

You want to know what’s even worse? I’m not even sorry. I mean I’m going to pretend I am for the purpose of this blog and so that you don’t all think I’m a totally horrible human but really, I’m not. They’re awesome, every single one of them and I could pickpocket more of their ideas if it was socially acceptable and less bloody obvious because they’re run by inspirational people, with inspirational ideas.
I guess it depends how you want to look at ‘competition’. For me competition is a relief. It’s a ‘thank god someone else thought this was a good idea’ moment & a ‘if other people can do, maybe I can do it too’ kinda feeling. Every time a new coffee shop opens in Bedford there’s always the group of people who are rooting for it and the group of people who think we are already over run with them already. Wouldn’t life be boring if we all thought the same thoughts?

In my opinion, humble as it maybe, I think we are SO lucky in Bedford to be surrounded by awesome places to drink coffee. The best thing about all of them is the coffee is such a small part of what it’s all about. All these places I’m about to mention are communities. They’re places we can go where we can feel safe, see a familiar face, have contact with someone, meet different people and when big high street stores are closing all around us, thank goodness for these little gems providing us with spaces to go and ideas for me to steal. Thanks you lovely lot. And sorry (not sorry).

So, here’s my confession list. In black and white.

The Kiosk

When I first moved to Bedford and I didn’t know a soul, I worked here, and it made me fall in love with our town. It’s awesome and such a great little spot in Russell Park. It’s full of dog walkers, families, people on their way to work, fitness groups – just every kind of person you could imagine and that just makes it super special. Every Monday they hold a story time, come rain or shine. It brings in the crowds and it makes it feel like a real community seeing people on a regular basis. It creates a big family every Monday and guess what? I stole it. Well, not story time itself, but the idea of having a group which involved families regularly once a week. Sorry Kiosk.

La Piazza
If you go here regularly, they will know your name and make an effort to talk to you. I once sat in here for a couple of hours and the guys behind the counter greeted so many people by name, like they were family. They knew things about their customers, and it was clear that that’s not just because they felt they had to, but because they genuinely care. I’m lucky I got to see this before I opened because it made me realise how important this and not just that I do that but the whole team does. Because of sitting at your kiosk La Piazza, I always try to instil in the team how important this is and how much this means to me. Thank you La Piazza, and sorry.

Roosters
There are so many sandwich fillings I could magpie from this gem on St Cuthbert’s Street. Thing is though, you’ve got to be clever when you’re a certified thief not to get caught and not to be too blatant. So instead, I stole one of your buffet ideas. I was making boards of sandwiches and they always looked like something was missing. Then one day, on my Facebook feed a picture of yours showed up with lovely rocket and tomato garnish laid in amongst them. Guess what we do now?
Sorry Roosters, I can stop doing it if you want. Or maybe put a credit to you on each sandwich board we do? Get in touch if you want to talk wording.
If you ever see ‘The American’ on my menu though, you’ll know Ive gone one step too far. Check it out, its bloomin’ awesome.

The Longholme
I mean, seriously people. You actually think you can put cucumber shreds in your water and not expect me to steal that idea?
You know what I used to do when we ran out of citrus goods? Plain water.
You know what I do now when we’re out of citrus goods don’t you? Its not even just the cucumber idea, it’s the way you thought to shred it. You took a cucumber and you treated it like a carrot. Absolute genius.

Mill Yard Coffee Lounge
This place does lots of lovely things, not least great salads. Its hard to think of new salad ideas all the time and if you are going to post about your butternut squash and feta salad with pumpkin seeds, red onions and toasted bread then what’s a girl to do?
I have to admit it was a slight irritant when I came in the following week to order this and yours was much better than what I’ve done. But thanks for the idea anyway and any other awesome salad ideas please send to faysatriverside@gmail.com. Any pictures so I can really recreate it properly would be greatly appreciated.

Crumbs

You guys.  You just can’t do that to me without me wanting to steal it. You cant just post a picture willy nilly on your social media of a biscuit based chocolate treat and add honeycomb to it and expect me to just pass it by. To just scroll on, pretend I havnt seen it. I mean, I tried. But it was inevitable.  We created our own from it, its triangle shaped for a start and really doesn’t look as awesome as yours but that’s where the idea came from.  I’m sorry Crumbs. Know that you do it better and that I will try not to look at your posts in the future.

The Pavilion
Feel super bad about this one. Genuinely. When I first opened the coffee shop I felt like I needed some tables which were different levels – it all looked a bit samey. So the fabulous Nikkita Palmer agreed to make me some high tables. She asked me what legs I wanted with them. She gave me LOADS of options but as soon as she mentioned scaffold legs, I pictured The Pavilions one and I just pilfered their table design right there and then. I made them higher so they wouldn’t notice. Think I got away with that one.

Vanilla tree
When this place opened it made my heart skip. I love their colour scheme, the name of the place (Does Vanilla Tree at Riverside impinge on their copyright?), the fact they make everything on site but most importantly if you head up the steps and delve into their games area you will find that they have Downfall, the retro game we all know and love. You can get a modern version of it now. If you’ve tried it, you’ll know it doesn’t even touch the sides on the old game.
Did I order it off Ebay while I was sat in your coffee shop, drinking your lovely coffee last week? Yes, Yes I did. If there’s pieces missing when it arrives, I know it will be fully deserved.

Papillon
I was in here around either the river festival or the proms in Bedford Park and I saw you were advertising for picnic baskets that people could pre order for the weekend. Absolute mastermind. I saw what you were doing and thought it was really clever. So basically, I stole it. I advertised it in the coffee shop, I posted pictures of what they would like, I spent ages designing a poster and then I sold one, one picnic package. One. That, my friends, is karma right there. I’m sorry Papillion, I’m just going to leave it to the pros next time around.

Costa
It’s a controversial one. But why wouldn’t I try to learn from people who know what their doing and roll out the same format in different locations across the country? I sat in here for HOURS before I opened Riverside. Learnt from their practices, took note of what coffee machines they were using, how they recorded the temperature on their fridges, how the ordering system worked, the lot. Did I steal most of the ideas they pay someone a lot of money to create? Do I continue to copy their winter and summer specials? Yes siree. Am I even a little bit sorry about this one? Not really.

As I sit here writing this, while really I should be arranging rotas and ordering some form of stock for tomorrow I’m looking around the latest coffee shop with bright, magpie eyes.  The Gallery opened just a couple of days ago and its looking pretty swanky.  Companions are on site, baking fresh bread, there’s some funky music playing and I get to spend money on more art work that I definitely don’t need but am absolutely getting at the same time, what’s not to like? They also have this lovely tin like tray that they use to display their water glasses.  Look out for one in a coffee shop near you soon…

Laughter and Lemon Sherbets

Here’s some things I’ve done this week:

Told a new customer to the coffee shop that I loved them. Sorry if this was you, I didn’t mean to come across so keen.
Cried when my boyfriend told me I couldn’t adopt a Greek three legged cat. I know, I don’t understand his point of view either. Maybe its pay back for the above?
Wore my shoes on the wrong feet for an entire day and gave myself a blister. An entire day. When you see what’s coming up later you will get that this is less than ideal.
Walked nearly 2 miles home then realised my car was with me all along. Then got a taxi to take me back to my car.
Stayed up till 2am writing a blog post, when my alarm is set for 5.15am and I have a hella day ahead. Don’t worry people, I’ve set the blog to post at around lunch time so I don’t look like a loon.

Here’s why I think I’ve done these things:

I’ve been nervous and excited and jam packed trying to fit everything in, in preparation for next week. Let me explain.

Think back to Friday 31st August 2018. Circa 3am. I’ll tell you what I remember. There I was, having a lovely old time in The Noble Rot (I know, I know – nothing good is ever going to come of this) when someone asked me what challenges I had done this year.
Over the last few years a weekend hasn’t been complete without a long-distance cycle event or a triathlon that I definitely haven’t trained for or a really steep mountain, or two, or three, or a stupidly long walk where you’re supposed to navigate your own way around.  But this year, the challenges have been on the quiet side. So right there, right then, I declared I would do a week of challenges, cram them all in to a week to make up for a lazy summer. There, that would do it. That’ll show them.
The annoying thing is, once I’ve said it out loud its always going to happen. There are a lot of crazy ideas lurking around in my head but once its out there then I just have to do it.  So, here’s how it is. Here’s how my week ahead is going to pan out. And here’s where I need your help.

Some of the challenges I have done in the past I have done with other people – these are always the best ones and the ones which pass the quickest and with laughter and lemon sherbet’s.  We get each other round, encourage each other with whatever we are doing and only the best of you can come out when the other is struggling, and vice versa.  It’s always so lovely to finish something with someone by your side and to celebrate with someone who knows how hard that thing you just did was.

Most of the challenges I have done in the past I have done by myself.  Weirdly, most of the people I know prefer to go to a festival, go for an avocado & turkey bagel at their local coffee shop (they’re not all bad) or a wander round the shops on their weekends. They don’t know what their missing (blisters, achilles heel torture, early starts).

Well, I say I do them alone, the guy who wouldn’t let me get the cat normally tags along, shouts encouragement throughout the day and is there with the bandages at the finish line, but the challenges, more often than not, I do alone. I like the head space. I like the time to reflect.  I like looking around and just appreciating that moment and what’s going on and what’s happening.  So that covers the first 10 minutes.

Then I have this routine pattern of what my brain thinks.  Warning: look away now if you’re not good with flashing lights.  It goes a little something like this…

1.This is so exciting, I cant wait to do this!

2. Look guys! I’m doing it! I’m actually doing it! NB this is normally communicated by just smiling really enthusiastically at people I don’t know. They don’t normally engage. 

3.. Why am I doing this? This is the most stupid idea I’ve ever had. I wish I was at home watching that new box set that Robin told me about. I totally could have had a whole day of not working and watching that.

4.. Actually this isn’t so bad. Look at that lovely tree.
5.. I don’t actually think I can do this.
6.. Perspective. Just put this into perspective.

At this point, I always, without fail, think about a beautiful soul, Sebi.

I met him while I was working with Bedford and District Cerebral Palsy Society.  I only worked with him for a short while – a couple of months maybe but I always think of him when I do a challenge. Sebi had to deal with things no one should ever have to deal with, let alone someone who was still a child and should be enjoying life to the full.  He had to deal with things he didn’t want to be having to deal with on a daily basis, every single day. You’d never know it though.  In the time I worked there, there was never a time when I didn’t see him smiling, or laughing, or being cheeky and impacting a room of people in such a positive way. He just cracked on. He just made the best of it, saw the bright side and just cracked on. Thank goodness for Sebi.
So really, its actually just putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, one mile at a time and keep smiling. Simples. Thanks Sebi.

In memory of Sebi and all the other amazing children that are just like him, who always makes me see sense and remind me how lucky and privileged I am and how easy my life is, I hope to raise a few pennies for BDCPS. I’ll let you know a little bit more about them during the week but just know that it is run by a small group of people who give their heart and soul to providing opportunities, support and love to children and families with cerebral palsy.

Here’s a little bit of how I’m hoping to do these things…

Saturday 22nd September
A bloomin’ early start driving down to London for a 26.2 marathon walk.  Only thing is, it was my brother’s birthday this week and he’s having a party in the afternoon so its definitely going to be a speed walk or maybe a jog if I’m feeling that enthusiastic. I’m not a runner. Not even when I say it out loud.

Then hopefully back home to Bedford for a couple of hours at the party (I don’t expect sponsorship for this bit) before our Fay’s Team night hike at St Johns hospice in Moggerhanger. Now this one is a bit separate as we are raising money for the Sue Ryder Team. It’s another charity I hold very dear. So I’m leaving the just giving page open for the week in case you feel like leaving some generous pennies on this page instead.
Then of course, back to join the party.

Tomorrow it starts all over again and so for the rest of the week. The Noble Rot has a lot to answer for. I’ll let you know each day what I’m doing. If I write it all down now, I think it will become more overwhelming, so I’ll update this and you and my Instagram each day. I’d suggest turning off your notifications now.

I feel like I should also add, in the interest of having someone waiting with bandages at some point this week, I do already have three cats.

My shameless plug to my just giving pages are below.

BDCPS – https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/week-of-challenges
Sue Ryder at St Johns Hospice – https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/faysatriverside

 

And now it’s done. Here’s how the rest of the week went down. I can’t tell you how much your support, your sponsorship and your encouragement meant while I was doing all of the below,  a million thank yous.

 

Sunday 23rd September

100 mile cycle road

Monday 24th September

13.1 miles swimming in a local swimming pool – half a marathon.

Tuesday 25th September

The other 13.1 miles swimming in a local swimming pool – the other half done.

Wednesday 26th September

Off to Eastbourne to start the South downs walk – 26 miles done.

Thursday 27th September

39 miles of the South Downs walk completed.

Friday 28th September

35 miles of the South Downs walk – 100 miles done!

Saturday 29th September

Abseil down then Arcelor Mittal Orbit

Sunday 30th September

Watching that Netflix box set that Robin told me about…

 

 

 

All the gear but literally, no idea

A year and a half in and I finally manage to write a blog post.  In my first months plan of having the coffee shop I had a to do list including but not exclusive to –

To produce and promote a website for the coffee shop

To write a blog post introducing myself and the shop properly

To set up all my social media pages, get 500 likes/follows on each

All this time on and I’ve probably ticked off half the list for January 2017. And I’m slowly learning that actually, that’s okay. That list is in my head, not yours. That list of things will get done eventually. That list of things is probably better done now rather than then because I’m better at pretending I know what I’m doing now than I was then.

I’d always wanted my own coffee shop and although I absolutely love it and am so grateful to have it every day, its not really what I imagined.  Here’s some things I’ve been busy learning instead of ticking things of my Jan ’17 to do list…

Perspective.

When you care about something so much, sometimes the smallest problem can seem like the end of the world.  I find it hard not to take things personally and not to dwell on them. But I’m learning to take a step back and look at the bigger picture – and realise that it’s actually just coffee beans and paninis.  I’ll always continue to try my best and put my all into the things I do but sometimes things go wrong and sometimes that’s not disastrous.

You can’t please everyone.

Not everyone likes turkey and avocado bagels. I don’t understand it myself but apparently some people just don’t like them.  I sometimes spend a fair amount of time the night before planning a menu, go out early the next morning to buy the ingredients for it, feel super smug that I’ve rediscovered the wheel & then not sell any all week.  But actually, that’s also okay.

Sometimes people don’t like my chairs because they’re a bit wonky, sometimes people don’t like my plates because they’re not conventional and the cutlery doesn’t sit on them quite right, sometimes people think the rooms too dark, sometimes people think my music’s weird, sometimes people just don’t want to talk to me about the weather.  I mean, seriously, I have nothing else to talk about people, please help me out here.

Its alright though, it really is. You just can’t please ’em all and as long as I stay true to what I’m trying to achieve, I guess that is also just okay.

It’s a coffee shop, its not your whole life. 

I love working. I know its weird, but I do. I love being busy and feeling like Ive got a purpose and like I’m doing something good. I love looking back on my day and thinking about all the things I’ve achieved. If it wasn’t for lovely friends and family, I’d happily work myself away 24/7. But apparently life’s not just about working. Its a real learning curve. Apparently it’s okay not to work until midnight. Apparently it’s okay to get up half an hour later in the morning. Apparently it’s okay to go out after work and not plan an event for next month.  Apparently it’s okay to go for a swim in THE AFTERNOON!!!! I know, I know, literally ridiculous.

But maybe these crazy’s actually have a point? After a couple of holidays recently where I felt the need to continue to ‘work on the business blah blah’ while I was sitting around the pool or in a local bar (its amazing the ideas you have after a few Aperol Sprtiz’s), talk continuously about what I was going to do when I got back, I realised that actually nothing bad was going to happen if I just played card games for half an hour. Apart from losing badly at card games.  Which in the grand scheme of things, is actually terrible and far worse than someone not liking my avocado and turkey bagel.

I love that I’m always thinking about the coffee shop.  I think about it because I love it and I care about it and I always want it to be better and I’m motivated and inspired by new things I see.  I also hate that I’m always thinking about the coffee shop.  So I’ve realised learning to sometimes switch off is okay and actually it makes you fresher and more balanced and much less boring…

Not keeping on top of your admin is bad news brown.

Learnt this lesson in about November last year when I woke up in the middle of the night every night for a week thinking about spreadsheets, receipts & rotas.  For one reason or another (mostly because I was thinking up the genius avocado and turkey bagel. Sorry guys, I know I said it didn’t matter but there is a teeny tiny (!) part of me struggling to let this one go) I’d let a few weeks worth of admin build up and I felt out of control.  It’s really not my favourite part of running my own business and because I find it boring, sometimes I put it off. But this is 100%, absolutely, definitely (not maybe), categorially NOT a good idea.  Doing a little bit every day makes me feel in control and not worry about it and after a while of doing this now and staying on top of things, it’s really not so bad and it’s really not so scary. Although spreadsheets will always be hideous no matter how many pretty colours you cover them in.

Humans are awesome.

Having a customer facing job means that even if you feel totally rubbish, you mostly have to pretend that everything’s okay.  I don’t mean that I’m pretending to be something I’m not here – just that it doesn’t seem to be good for business if I’m crying into someone’s latte as I explain to them that my cat is just not getting on with the next door neighbours cats and its causing all sorts of first world problems.

It’s amazing though what a positive impact being surrounded by lovely people has on me.  I can come in to work some mornings, not feeling like talking to anyone, feeling a bit shy and a bit like having my own business is just too scary today and within a few minutes of being with my team & customers, everything is in perspective, its okay that you can’t please everyone, it’s just a coffee shop not my whole life, your admin is doing just fine and humans can just be bloody awesome.