Creating a business and being paid for indulging in your passions is one of the key reasons lots of people begin working for themselves. An example of this is Felicity Luxmoore, an English and Theatre graduate turned gourmet street food entrepreneur.
Felicity owns Jabberywocky Catering with her husband Barny. Alongside this she writes a successful blog and has published a book on the process of starting a street food business; inspiring others along the way.
Could you please give us a brief outline of your career to date, from university to now, including a brief overview of what your business does?
I graduated with a BA in English with Theatre and Performance from Plymouth and initially moved to Leamington Spa with my boyfriend (now husband) Barny, a Chemistry PGCE graduate. The first few years involved a lot of temping and customer services work, while I tried to find something I could do with my degree. Eventually I got a job in marketing; being paid peanuts working for a gift company selling plastic tat nobody wants.
All this time Barny had been carefully ignoring his Qualified Teacher Status and was training to be a chef. He made head chef of a local restaurant within a couple of years, and then started looking around for a new challenge. The Jabberwocky was our first venture into business together. We bought a van and started selling gourmet toasties at food fairs, festivals and street food markets. Alongside this I have been keeping a blog about the whole process of starting a street food business, and in 2015 we published Street Food Soliloquy: a guide to starting and running a street food business that has sold over 1500 copies and has 5* feedback on Amazon.
So far, what has been your biggest highlight since starting your business?
For me it was publishing the book and realising that people wanted to buy and read about our experiences. In the time since publishing lots of aspiring street food traders have contacted us to say thank you for writing the book and tell us how it inspired them to get up and start trading. It’s an amazing feeling.
What inspired you to start Jabberwocky Catering? Have you always wanted to work for yourself?
I wanted to work with people, and Barny wanted to work with food. We were both sick of our jobs and never saw each other as he was working kitchen shifts and I was doing 9-5. Working together means we get to enjoy all the ups and downs as a couple – now a family – since we had our son last year.
Would you encourage others to start their own business? If so, why?
Yes, emphatically so! I run one of the largest sites on the internet about starting and running a UK street food business to try and help more folks get into the industry. It’s a very easy way to become self-employed, even if it is a lot of work, and it plays to lots of different skill sets. Generally though, running your own business is intensely satisfying when it works, but horrifically stressful when it doesn’t. I wouldn’t recommend it for people seeking a low stress lifestyle, but it makes life a whole lot more interesting if you like a challenge.
Did your University discuss freelancing/working for yourself/starting a business as a viable option post-graduation?
If they did it was not in such a way that I came out of there feeling enthused and excited to start out alone. I don’t remember ever having useful careers advice while I was studying, and left university fairly certain I wanted to do something non-specific involving writing.
What is your opinion, if any, on graduate schemes?
When I was looking they all appeared to be for large corporations. I would have loved to join a graduate scheme, especially as I had no clear plan at the time, but none of them looked inspiring – they all appeared to just be different versions of management training, very few requiring writing or language skills specifically.
I graduated in a subject where the competition for relevant jobs is fierce, and just having a decent BA really isn’t enough anymore. There are few, if any graduate schemes, because you can hire a nearly free intern instead. I’m glad I didn’t settle for an uninspiring corporate management scheme. Starting my own business means I have ultimately made my own job to suit my skills and passions.