AT THE HEART OF THE BUSINESS

Who makes Sarah’s Creative Kitchen Limited tick each day? 

You know their names, or maybe you don’t, but behind the scenes there are so many people that help to bring you your goodies to the doorstep to be enjoyed each time. 

So I have decided they are the heart of the business, and I want to introduce you to them all, and give you a little bit of information about what their role is within the business, how long they have worked for me, and how I know them…. 

Katie – I am starting with the member of staff who is still with me from the very start, she was one of the first recruits, along with Lauren (who has left us now to have a baby).  Katie started right back in early 2017.  She popped along to my house to have a chat about doing a few hours here and there to help and now clocks up around 25 hours a week if not more some weeks.  Katie has been through every change we have made, and I really wouldn’t be here without her continued support, even through lock down you would find Katie coming in all hours of the night to work and do her hours around her family. 

So what does Katie do… the list is quite long, she helps top your chocolate, gets the mould’s ready for insertions, tops the chocolate and wraps and labels, she also boxes up orders, replies to the odd email here and there, she will often call customers as well to talk through any changes required, washes up, and recently has started to assist in the Eatery with baking, which she says she really enjoys.

You will also find Katie front of house at the shop, supporting us all to keep the shop open.

How do I know Katie?  Well she is basically a cousin to me, she’s marrying my blood cousin, but we have all said she is as good as family now, wouldn’t swap her for the world.

Sarah – she also joined me right at the start, and I never forget how I managed to talk her into joining our team, we popped out for cake and tea, and again like Katie she offered a few hours when needed…. the rest is history.  Sarah works between 12 – 16 hrs each week, sometimes more at seasonal times. 

Sarah’s role is very similar to Katie (above), helping to prepare the chocolate goodies, from topping, wrapping, labelling and now eatery goodies from start to finish, she is our wonder star cleaning expert as well, and loves getting into the chillers to clean them each week, and she quite tiny so could actually squeeze herself in. 

How do I know Sarah?  Now myself and Sarah go back many many years, in fact to when I was about 18 years old I think, the stories she could tell you all, although I am never shy in coming forward.  We have been away on many girlie adventures and I’ve lost count on the drunken nights out in Southend!

Paul (aka Daddy) – Well what can I say, Dad retired from his work last year (2019) and I kept saying to him would he come and help us out from time to time, and what is meant to be once a week, does often turn into 3-5 times, which my mum does often comment on saying don’t wear him out. 

Dad is like jack of all trades, he can temper the chocolate, maintain the machines and all equipment, pipe the chocolate, top and package (slowest member here, but we love him), he can certainly eat all our vegan products we make, and runs around doing errands, shopping, trips to the factory to collect supplies, deliveries to our trade customer, and so so much more.  Him and Michael (my husband) pretty much built up both premises for me to use. He also helps out with collecting Alfie for us from school when busy.

How do I know Paul?  My Dad, the man I have looked up to all my life and I love that I can finally work with him by my side.  he doesn’t like my swearing, but I said that is part of running your own businesses, you have to let off steam ha-ha. 

Natalie O – The only member of the team that is hidden away up North, and remotely works for us, and what a fantastic asset as well, I personally couldn’t do without her, and she makes is possible for me to switch off from parts of the business at times. 

Natalie looks after our Facebook pages, and also writes many of our articles for our newsletters, with the help of me adding bits, which then normally ends up being the part with errors (ha ha, sorry Natalie). She looks after our conflict resolution as well, which is minimal, but each week I use a good hour of my time with her to offload, and she has become a very good friend as well to me and my family.

Natalie works 10 hours a week for us.  Whilst she looks after the Facebook pages (all three) she does consult with me over replies etc, and I feel like she is another model of me, just with a Northern accent, and that is what I wanted to achieve, that customers feel like they are still receiving the same care and attention with replies to what I can offer.  With so much time spent on social media, it was an area of the business I had to bring in help with so I can carry on running Instagram on my own, and occasionally help from the girls on my phone.

How do I know her?  Long story short, I put up a post on my Instagram page, she replied and her reply made me check out her profile, I sat and cried most of the night, as I read posts about her precious baby, Otis born sleeping. We started messaging and that is pretty much the story, she offered to do some post wording for me on Facebook and it reached thousands and I then asked her to work with us, within 2 weeks of speaking she was on our team. 

Natalie is currently on maternity leave with her little one.

Carole – she joined us in late 2021, and what a great assert to our Eatery. Carole is our main cook at the front, shes the one cooking up your breakfast, brunch and lunch.

Carole joined us from a background in hospitality, she used to run her own Pubs in Essex, and has worked at various eatery type shops in the High Street and a hotel in Westcliff as a cook.

She is such a hard worker and will always be in the eatery well before her start time to prepare food ready for the day. Carole lives local to the shop, so its a nice short travel into work for her.

Carole is the only member of staff here that actually interviewed for the role, and ended up with me hugging her saying when can you start! She has taken on the role that I was finding so hard to do, alongside all the daily admin to run both businesses.

She fitted in straight away with us, and is a great team member.

Katie – yes we love to have repeat names here. Katie is our newest member of staff, helping us out for 7 hours each week when we are busy, mainly in the Eatery, although I am trying my best to increase her hours, but she has another jobs already… this girl is a workaholic, and such a special friend to me.

Katie helps top the chocolate, package, washing up, cleaning, labelling, basically anything I throw at her, but her best job is topping our cookies, shes with me the day they are freshly baked, so gets to support me on that side of the business. She is literally the nicest person on this planet! everyone I know that meets her says the same as well, and her life was thrown into total turmoil in 2020, after losing her husband just five days before her baby daughter was born, and throughout everything she remains with the biggest smile and largest heart ever.

How I know Katie? I’m trying to think of the year, but I want to say around 2008, she dated one of my cousins for a short period of time, and I am so grateful to have her as a friend still. She has supported us from afar, with ordering goodies to be delivered when she moved away and then when returning to our home county, she then ordered lots of goodies to be delivered all throughout lockdown from both stores. Katie joined us with another off the cuff text message, like Sam, we were just talking about life and the next thing she is coming in to help us out in our hour of need, and we are keeping her now ha ha.

Me (Sarah) – well here we are, the creator and owner of both of my businesses.  For those that do not know me, I am 48 yrs old, mum to Alfie (6) and Wife to Michael.  I started my business as something very different, it was all targeted around running healthy cookery demos at my home in Southend.  I had attended Weight Watchers for 1 year and lost 68lbs following the birth of Alfie.  I discovered I loved sharing my recipes of fake away cooking and missed the social aspect of my job in the city whilst on maternity leave for a year.  So I combined the two loves and away I went. 

Whilst losing my weight I really craved sweet treats and started to make my discs for myself and over time more and more people started to take an interest and even placing little orders with me.  I decided I would trial out running a farmers market stall, and the night before I am at home making so much chocolate and Michael was helping me to package it ready and the rest really is history.  Cookery demos went on the back burner and chocolate making took priority.  After several successful markets I ventured into selling online and Michael created my first shop late 2016 and we launch it December 2016, and here we are now, with over 112K followers, making over 2000 packs of chocolate every week, and moved from my home kitchen to the factory and then expanding to a second premises in 2019.  We now operate fully out of our Eastwood shop, after handing over the factory to a friend in May 2022.

I do all the baking for the shop, and support the team to make the chocolate goodies.  I also look after the chocolate making classes as well, I especially love the adult ones, as I get to have a drink.. 

I work in the region of 50-75 hrs each week, this involves physical making and behind the social media pages at night and weekends.  I make all the tiktok and reel videos that you see on our social media pages, I wont give up my day job yet, although we have had one video go viral!

I wont bore you too much, but if you want to know more, just ask me!