This Sunday just gone marked one year since Sticky Beaks’ first market. The (in hindsight) not so great pitch in Fulham, where we realised that the first few months would involve shamelessly exploiting friends and their families for money because they were the most likely to buy it from our slightly amateur looking stall.
Without wanting to sound really cliched, but doing it anyway, I can’t believe how far we’ve come in 12 months. From a weirdly located spot in Fulham once a week, we’ve gone to trading 5, or sometimes 7 days a week, I’ve learnt to take on the roles of (in no particular order) head chef, van driver, social media manager, accountant, staff manager, secretary, blog writer, cleaner (kind of), stock manager and debt collector, all to varying degrees of success. I feel like the Daley Thompson of the street food world. I’m far from an expert in most of these fields, but there’s been a large step up from where my skills lay a year ago.
I know I often use this platform to pay tribute to Laura’s efforts to help, whilst holding down a fairly demanding job, but for all the effort I put in most days of the week, her ability to essentially say “Days off are for pussies” most weeks of the year is why the business is not bankrupt, we don’t have a dog that looks like this:
and the house, and especially kitchen, isn’t featured on one of those Channel 5 shows where people have a route carved between eight foot tall piles of rubbish, saying “I don’t know how it got this bad”.
I suppose the major truimph of the last year is how well the food has been received. In my adult life the one I felt I could rely on being better at than most is cooking. I always tried to make an extra effort for guests, or Laura, because I liked the feeling of people enjoying what I served, but mainly, them telling me how much they liked it. Pure ego boost. The difference now being that I don’t know everyone who eats the food, so they have no obligation to avoid hurting my feelings. The feedback has been incredible, it makes me feel very humble when regulars come back for more, or tell me I serve the best food at a particular market, or even (I am particularly proud of this one) that my lamb is ‘the best sandwich I’ve ever tasted’.
Beyond the ego stroking, it does help to refocus you. There’s been plenty of times when I/we have been depressed after a bad week, cried at the state of our bank account once rent has gone out or the endless stresses caused by the van that Postman Pat clearly used as his evening joyriding vehicle, when (mostly by Laura) I’ve been told to just remember that I am doing what I love and the product is amazing, we just need to be calm and it will bring the money and success I am too impatient to wait for. Which is obviously true, compared to even three months ago, the business is busier than ever before, bringing in enough money that I don’t need to freelance and the recognition is finally starting to come in. This has culminated in getting a chance to trade at ‘The International Capital of Night Markets’ that is Street Feast’s Dalston Yard in August.
It’s only a two week showcase to start with, and we would be really stupid to get ahead of ourselves and assume we’d made it, but it feels nicely fitting that the last year of physically and mentally draining graft has been book ended by a real opportunity to launch us to the next level. It’s as excited as I remember having been since we launched this time last year.
All that’s left here is to thank everyone that’s helped us out this year – there’s probably too many of you to name check for coming to try the food, which is testament to the amazing friends and family support we have received, but I’d like to give special thanks to the unpaid work put in by Neil and Dan, without whom the look and feel of the business would either be awful or have cost us more than we’d like to imagine. Dan has been incredibly enthusiastic and patient with our muddled view for how we want the brand to look and somehow managed to create some amazing logos, banners, animals and menus out of the less than clear instructions we have given and the branding is complimented almost as much as the food.
Also Neil, who we probably don’t show as much appreciation to as we should, for designing our beautiful website whilst working a full time job, buying a house, getting engaged and spending most of his days quoting the Simpsons to anyone who will listen. I’ll leave it to you guys to work out which takes up most of his time.
WordPress is telling me that i’ve written nearly 900 words now, which I remember once was a daunting total on school essays that were actually about something, rather than a guy rambling about how long it takes to shred a shoulder of lamb. It’s actually 912 now. 915. This could go on for a while…
Thanks for reading, I am sure there’ll be something more added to this in six months time when I find the time to add more. For everyone who’s got this far, here’s a video of a girl being woken up by a vacuum cleaner.