Cheryl Braham – A Small Fish in a Big Pond
A Small Fish in a Big Pond (a name of which I am very fond) has already found its way into the hearts of many of the people surrounding it on Liverpool’s historic Water street. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Cheryl was a trainer for young people, helping them to gain confidence and get in to employment. She tells me that one of her goals during this time was to nurture a creative space in which these young people could develop. This is something that she wanted to bring to the table when setting up Small Fish.
In her previous role, Cheryl did a lot of her work from local coffee shops. “That’s where I was at my most creative… somewhere with background noise and life happening,” she explains. And this definitely fed in to her desire to create a similar space herself.
Cheryl’s love of coffee was initially sparked during time spent in Portugal where she once worked as well as on her numerous trips to Italy. It wasn’t just the tasty brew she was enchanted by, but the culture surrounding it: that quintessentially Italian scene of espresso-sipping outside a café, watching the world go by.
Another of Cheryl’s objectives was to help change perceptions of what coffee can be; to help make specialty coffee more accessible to those who might have been intimidated in another setting. She wanted to take away some of the snobbery that often surrounds coffee culture.
Building a new coffee culture
A Small Fish in a Big Pond has the added allure of being situated in a building steeped in history and cultural importance. It forms a part of a group of buildings designed by the renowned architect, Peter Ellis. The stunning setting is a great talking point between Cheryl and her customers. (One local resident actually gifted Cheryl a book about Ellis while I was visiting!)
The only downside is that as a listed building it is not possible to attach signage to the exterior, so it can be easy to walk by. Also, with its relatively ‘cosy’ size, there is not a lot of room for storage or food prep. Rather than see this as a disadvantage, Cheryl has chosen to see this as an opportunity and uses it to support other local traders by out-sourcing her sandwiches, salads and cakes to other nearby businesses. Cheryl tells me that she has been welcomed by, “A community in Water street that (she) never expected in a city Centre.”
Favourite Coffee? Cortado
Favourite Destiny’s Child song? Independent Women.
Abbie Crompton – Nine Leaves Tea Lounge
Though young in years, Abbie is no newbie to the hospitality world, having worked in the industry since the tender age of 14. Her parents have also owned their own business in the food and drink world, so Abbie has had this strong example present in her life to help her get to grips with running a business. “It’s something I’ve grown up with and know how to do, and I enjoy making people’s days a bit better,” she beams.
It is common in the small business owner’s experience to struggle both working in the venue full time on the shop floor and to manage the admin involved in running a venue, and Abbie’s case is certainly no exception. Though to walk in, you would never even detect a hint of this with the warm smile and excellent customer service that you receive from her and every member of the team. Abbie tells me the most frequent compliment she receives from customers is how nice the staff are.
Abbie has now had her venue across the water from Liverpool in Hoylake, Nine Leaves Tea Lounge, for two years and has already built her own little community. However, Abbie is not content with simply establishing herself and sitting on her laurels, she is constantly seeking to up her game and let her community know it!
Abbie’s aim when opening Nine Leaves was to create a real “melting pot” for people of all backgrounds and ages, to create somewhere totally care-free where everyone could
feel welcome. It seems Nine Leaves has achieved this wonderfully and more to boot. Abbie tells me Nine Leaves is now home to a knitting group, philosophy group and support groups, to name but a few.
Favourite Destiny’s Child song: “Survivor! Hands down the best one!!”
Deborah Sagar – Bonta Deli
Nestled in picturesque Caernarfon, Wales, Deborah opened Bonta Deli in March 2018 with the aim of “Bringing a new type of retail experience to the town.”
Having grown up in a pub setting, Debs is no stranger to the world of hospitality and great customer service, but tells me that she has long dreamed of opening her own deli. A dream she is now proud to have successfully made reality!
Debs tells me that she is continually (though pleasantly) surprised with the amount of glowing feedback and support she has received since starting. This is clearly reflected by the regulars she has accumulated from surrounding businesses who continually tell her that they have stopped frequenting the big coffee chains in favour of her beautifully made espresso. She tells me that once she was even stopped in a supermarket by someone that had been in for lunch to be told that one of her sandwiches was the “Best they’d ever had!”
Debs developed her love of coffee whilst travelling Italy, so it is no surprise that she’s so meticulous when it comes to a good brew. She tells me she is dedicated to bringing her clientele great quality coffee at a fair price.
Proving that she is a woman of vision, Debs continues to tell me that her biggest challenge whilst setting up Bonta Deli is the lack of time to take a step back and think about how she wants to develop her venue further! Watch out Caernarfon, this lady has plans!
Favourite Coffee: Specialty espresso (woman after my own heart…)
Favourite Destiny’s Child song: ‘Survivor’
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the amazing women that have taken the time to talk with me and share their experiences.
Let’s raise a cup to these people that are representing the Survivor spirit and rise of the female entrepreneur. These are just a handful of the amazing people opening all manner of wonderful venues in our beautiful city and beyond, let’s celebrate them all by supporting your local independents!
Throw ya hands up at me!