How was your International Women’s Day? Across #TeamCoco we were busy at events up and down the country, networking with likeminded ladies AND GENTS about how we can all lean in, do our part and hopefully ensure that an International Women’s Day isn’t even required in the near future.
House of Coco are proud to publish our first #GBOGB interview today featuring a fierce foodie, Christina Reynolds. Christina is the owner of Feast-Food.com and VintageFeast.com, two leading catering companies based in London and creates decadent feasts for tea parties, weddings and corporate functions.
House of Coco sat down with Christina over a pot of tea at The Hospital Club to discuss the ups and downs of running your own business, working with female friends and Spanish men.
HOC: Tell us a little about Feast and your journey to getting to where you are today?
CR: I’ve been in this business for 12 years now. And it’s Feast’s 7th year and it has kept evolving year on year. My New Year’s resolution is to be more picky with the work I take and start saying ‘No’ to those small jobs that aren’t worth it.
Like all small business owners I did a lot for nothing in my first few years and I have learnt to separate work and leisure; I can put on a great party for my husband and do all the food he loves as that’s what I want to do but I can’t work for love!
HOC: Talking about New Year’s Resolution, what are your plans for Feast in 2016?
CR: My dream is to get more weddings coming directly to me and being more strict with how I work with them! I’m working on a new website and pushing our events services. I’m not convinced on the role of Social Media, mind, I feel it can be very hit or miss.
We’ve had a bit of a rollercoaster over the past few years. 2012 was a massive year being in an Olympic borough. 2013 took a dip then 2014 was incredible.
HOC: And how do you structure your business to manage the ebbs and flows of event work?
CR: Well, its me at the top and then freelancers in the kitchen and front of house. For event staff I find that everyone knows someone and a mass text can work wonders! My whole business is run by text, I have my A team and my B team and we always get the job done.
HOC: Have you always been a lone Girl Boss?
CR: I used to be in a business partnership with a female friend which just didn’t work out as we had different work ethics. Unfortunately the business experience ruined our friendship so I would recommend all budding GirlBosses not to go into business with anybody, especially friends!
HOC: What lead you to become the Girl Boss you are today?
CR: My last corporate role was in the City as a Project Manager but I just wasn’t satisfied. I feel that my parents were not the generation that would pay attention to their child’s innate talents and interests and if I had been my mother (if that makes sense?) I would have pushed little me to follow the catering dream decades ago!
All the ingredients were there; I always had the themed party, my Dad worked all hours and I made him what we know now as ready meals to keep him going. I even worked with M&S foothill and moved out to Spain to open their Valencia store!
But it took having my child to make me realise that I wouldn’t go back to the City. When I left for mat leave I knew that was out, I wasn’t going back.
HOC: I also spent some time working in Spain too, how did you find the interaction between men and women in the workplace there?
I found that Spain was a bit behind when it came to gender equality, even when I was there years ago. I was married to a Spanish man living in Barcelona and he would still go home to his mother every weekend back in his hometown. But, better still, he wouldn’t take me with him as his mother didn’t approve of me!
Luckily I left Spain, and him, behind and came back to the UK!
HOC: If there’s one Girl Boss activity you wished you could get better at, what would it be?
CR: Networking, for sure, but it might be the type of events I’m going to! A lot are too controlled as if a bell sounds and it’s “Networking O’Clock”!
I’ve been to a lot of local area networking events and have just found the people I’ve met unhelpful. I always want to represent my personality through how I dress (HOC note: On the day we meet Christina is wearing a great colourful patterned 50s style sundress) and one small man said to me, commenting on my style “You know its all about business, you look the part!” Thank you, I thought to myself, I am looking my part. I never went back to that event!
HOC: Finally, outside of your business what other small business is nailing food, in your mind?
CR: Windy Corner Cafe in Whitstable is fabulous and I want to live on that road!
HOC: We tried to go there too a couple of months ago but they were full. However went we wandered past a few hours later on that day they ran out of the shop to invite us in!
CR: Exactly, their approach to business is fab and their food is delicious!