We wanted to be as sustainable as possible, so we used crockery from car boot sales and chairs from skips. We set up at Jubilee Wharf – a fantastic eco-development - which means that our main source of energy is a mix of wind, solar and wood chip.
Many jobs in this sector are very new, how long has your job existed?
The café has been open for 3 years.
What personal qualities do you think have got you where you are today?
The ability to work long hours, and empathy for those working with me.
What are the essential skills for your job?
• Having a keen eye for people who will work well in the business
• Being organised (though I don’t always pull this off!)
• Being a ‘completer- finisher’ (seeing things through to the end) or, rather, just going further than
initially intended, to get the best result
What qualifications do you have? Are these typical for people in your role?
A pile of GCSEs; nothing stunning, and a couple of irrelevant A-levels. Then, a Diploma in Nursing, which actually gave me many transferable skills – such as the ability to work long hours and to become a completer- finisher, as well as experience of working with the general public. Oh, and it taught me to get up early every day, because you have to!
What do you think most helped you get where you are now?
I am where I am today because I worked long hours… and I have a husband who shops, cooks and does children too!
Please describe a typical working day
Tuesdays are my big day, as it’s the beginning of the working week for me…
I get into work before everyone else, just to have some quiet thinking time to plan things and start a list of what needs doing. The action of writing a list often means I forget to look at it again! Nonetheless, it’s definitely a useful tool - especially if you’ve been up half the night and your brain is a bit fuzzy!
I meet with all my staff that head up different departments. We pick over the week before and plan for the week ahead, have a laugh and drink some tea...
I then have a head buzzing with the million things I ought to be doing. I start making phone calls and follow up bookings or bands, and make sure I’ve got staff to cover these events. It’s usually a bit of a scatter gun approach but sometimes I get everything done.
Regularly I’ve forgotten to have lunch and sit in the sun for 10 minutes, which I promise myself to try to do every day.
I get lost in a world of computers; updating our website or dealing with enquiries and job requests.
Lots of people come in and out of the café, and they want to talk - now! So, time planned for other stuff gets gobbled up by interesting and unexpected stuff. Not always great, and sometimes I just have to make my excuses and run. If I don’t go and finish stuff, I'll be found out for not having started at a more sensible time!
Prioritising is important. My husband is a big fan of starting the day with the thing you least want to do, then the rest of the day feels good. He’s definitely on to something there as the boring, undesirable stuff will always fall off the to-do list... then come back and bite you on the bum!
I usually do a bit of design work (either for advertising or posters) plus some imaging for our website, based around impending bands or events that we’re holding.
Generally I cash up, as I think it’s the least popular job at the end of the day, but I’m equally happy mopping the toilets if they need doing; I don’t have status issues.
Finally, I usually swap a few words with my Head Chef, Emily, as we both do a bit of computer work and wind things up. I like to know that she’s ok because, like me, she carries a lot of the continuing stress - it’s something you learn to live with when you’re in business; you’re never on top of everything because it’s ongoing, and you have to be cool with that.
When I get home, I usually find my kids eating tea and larking with my husband (it'll be my turn tomorrow, which will involve a mad dash from work). If I’m bad I’ll turn on the computer, but if I’m really bad I’ll pour myself a glass of wine!
What do you enjoy most and least about what you do?
I love the variety – seeing different people every day, and running events like our music nights.
Computer work sucks! However, from a business point of view, the ability to do desktop publishing yourself is phenomenal compared to the way things used to be.
I hate not being able to give people time, and always being in a rush - it looks a bit self important (when in fact it’s not; it’s usually just my disorganised side getting exposed!).
What kind of people do you meet through your work or do you work alone?
Every kind - which is great.
Do you feel well paid for what you do, or is it not about the money?
It cannot be about the money. Obviously it helps, but self-worth and satisfaction come from other stuff, truly.
Finally, what do you know now about jobs, careers and the future that you wish you’d known when you were at school?
1. Filing is essential to your well-being.
2. School days are not the best days of your life.
3. Experience is so useful - education can be got later, when you know what you want.