When we caught Emma Gannon speaking recently about ‘the multi-hyphen method’ we recognised amongst the House of Coco team and our friends how many women we knew were embracing their different interests and skills to create fuller and more rewarding lives for themselves. When we saw that super multi-hyphenate April Jackson (former Miss Jamaica Universe, food blogger & The Apprentice 2015 candidate!) was getting ready to open her second Three Little Birds (threelittlebirdsja.com) Jamaican restaurant in London we knew we had to sit down with her for a chat!
HOC: April, so lovely to meet you. Do you identify with the term multi-hyphenate and what does this mean to you?
April: To be honest I have never used the term multi-hyphenate but to me it would mean wearing multiple hats, which I feel every entrepreneur has to do, especially when operating an independent business. At Three Little Birds when people ask what is my role, I often answer that I am whoever they need me to be, or as they say head cook and bottle washer because I have to adapt to each circumstance.
HOC: Since leaving The Apprentice we’ve heard a lot about Three Little Birds, can you tell us more about the restaurant?
April: I opened Three Little Birds in 2015 because it allowed me to combine my love for Jamaica and my passion for food while creating a viable business. Whilst Caribbean culture has influenced London since the Windrush in 1948 our food has been most commonly served up in takeaways. There has been a new wave of Caribbean eateries but Three Little Birds gave me a voice; to show that Jamaica is more than a ghetto or a beach, whilst dishing up small sharing plates inspired by my upbringing, alongside creative cocktails and warm service.
HOC: Sounds awesome, what could we expect from an evening at Three Little Birds?
April: My regulars will tell you that Three Little Birds is unique with its menu offering, which changes seasonally although featuring many staples such as the ever popular curry goat and our rum punch. Traditionally Caribbean food is known for its hearty portions and we serve a tapas-style menu with memorable flavours. We are proud to stock premium spirits that we use to convert everyone into a rum drinker as there is truly a rum for everyone. Our service stands out because we care about you the individual; you are our guest and we enjoy welcoming you to our home.
HOC: We’re salivating already! What’s your favourite Jamaican dish or cocktail to whip up?
April: Choosing a single dish is difficult, I probably enjoy making ackee and saltfish the most. When people order our Jamaican Breakfast at brunch, it’s likely the first time that they’ll enjoy our national dish alongside bammy (think hash brown made from cassava!) with plantain and it makes me very proud to show them a taste of my culture that they haven’t experienced before. At the moment my favourite cocktail on the menu is the Miss J, because it’s perfectly sweet…. but I love making the Three Little Birds Rum Punch because I get to burn cinnamon on top and the fire excites me!
HOC: I’m sure many of our Girl Boss readers have considered applying for a business reality show, how did your experience on The Apprentice help you get to where you are today?
April: The Apprentice was very beneficial for me and my business because it gave me the exposure I needed to draw people to Three Little Birds in Brixton. Before The Apprentice I was living in Jamaica and moving to London to open a new restaurant without a network would have been much more difficult without the publicity that came along with my appearance on the show and for that I am extremely grateful.
HOC: What are your plans for Three Little Birds and the other projects you are working on?
April: Our second location on Battersea Rise has just opened and I am excited to spread some more Jamaican-inspired magic to a new area by becoming a beloved fixture in the local community. In addition my pepper jelly, which is served with our codfish fritters and halloumi sticks, is in high demand so I will be bottling it along with some other delicious recipes for retail…
HOC: We’re big fans of Sophia Amoroso and #GirlBoss , can you tell us about a ‘Girl Boss Moment’ you had recently?
April: I love that book! I feel like each time I engage into any negotiation, I come out feeling like I’ve had a ‘Girl Boss Moment’. Whilst sourcing equipment for the new site I have managed to save thousands by doing research, illustrating that I have other options, going out of my way to smile with the decision makers and asking for discounts nicely.
More recently I gave a talk to a group of children who participated in the Young Enterprise Company Program and I was nervous to speak to teenagers as they are harder to impress than adults but surprisingly they were really engaged and one of the organisers described my speech as the best he had heard in 16yrs of participating in the program. I left the event feeling like a #GirlBoss because it is a gift to be able to inspire others.
Thanks so much for your time with us April, you are a force to be reckoned with and we’re strangely feeling really hungry now, guess we’ll see you down at Three Little Birds really soon!
Find out more about Three Little Birds at threelittlebirdsja.com
Brixton: 412 Coldharbour Ln, Brixton, London SW9 8LF
Battersea: 42 Battersea Rise, London SW11 1EE