As we delve into the life of Director and Taste of Bath Founder, we uncover the face behind the brand, why Taste of Bath, and, what it takes to run ‘Bath’s Best Business Service’
Helen, for those who don’t know you, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be the owner of Taste of Bath.
I’m a Bath girl born and bred, attending Hayesfield girls’ school and like all rites of passage, I married a Beechen Cliff boy in 2009. We moved to Bristol in our twenties, where I became a retail trouble shooter, travelling the UK, training store managers, opening and closing stores, problem solving within the store itself, along with training others in customer service.
In 2014, I decided to follow my true passion, food and in doing so, launched my first business, Rich Pickings: Artisan Terrines and Pates. Teaching myself butchery, I created terrines and pâtés for wholesale clients and was a regular at Bath Farmer’s Market. I still get stopped in the street and called pâté lady! I am loving living back in Bath!
Hey ‘pâté lady’, that’s a pretty cool story.
So where was Taste of Bath born?
Well, in November 2015, I decided to start a second business, Taste of Bath. Originally the concept was to have an online shop where people could access Bath’s local produce (a bit like Ocado). It’s funny to see us four years on – A business gifting service focused on the B2B market.
My background in turning around businesses taught me to be entirely led by our customer’s needs. From the off, people loved the concept of promoting and supporting small local producers. Our journey has been to evolve the concept and make it relevant to client’s needs.
In 2015-2017 it became clear that the B2B market had a clear need – simple and easy gifting with a local focus. Adding to our strong retail presence, we launched our B2B service in 2017 and boy, getting to know the business arena has been a journey! Price points, branding requirements, what businesses need is always evolving. From there, 2017-18 was all about listening to clients and adapting.
I sit here now, thinking about all the bumps in the road, the adaptations and learning the market. It’s been hard, but blooming fun! Now in 2019, with all the Bath boxes fitting into place, we have an amazing community of Bath businesses supporting us and our producers. Now instead of innovating our offering, we help our clients innovate and grow their businesses!
I sadly no longer make Pate, and in 2016 with Taste of booming, I had to make the hard decision to close Rich Pickings. People still crave my Chicken Liver and White Port Parfait though!
That sounds like a great journey Helen. Adapting to the customer’s needs seems to have set you in good stead?
Training others in customer service, I have an almost militant obsession with service and client journeys.
Starting Taste of, with customer service as our core focus, it’s been amazing to see how the business has evolved – which is not in the direction I expected at all! Our clients have taken the business on such an amazing journey. The business is now relevant to what the market needs, and following our clients wants/needs, has made us far more successful and ultimately happier than we ever expected.
In Taste of Bath HQ, where I now lead a team of six, we have a mantra of ‘what they need, they get’. Our clients give us a brief (we have had some cracking ones), and we deliver – service isn’t complicated, delivery isn’t complicated – it’s all about nailing it. My clients come first.
You seem VERY passionate about clients and service… what else are you passionate about?
I could talk about clients and service all day! My clients are literally my life blood, my community and my inspiration. Bath is booming with incredible businesses, visionaries and market experts. We are blessed to support them with our business service.
Anyone who meets me will know I am a passionate and authentic person. I strive to be as authentic as our brand. Kindness, friendliness and helping others achieve is paramount to good relationships, good business and a happier life.
I think I’m seen as the ‘brand’ of Taste of, mainly because I am the one passionate about clients. Clients only ever meet me, but behind the scenes we have a team of six, working away making it all possible. Our ethos is ‘to do what makes you happy,’ so each team member is a specialist in their own field, so I encourage them to flourish in their happy spaces too.
I also love to help in the community, supporting over 60 charities in Bath this year. I also love mentoring Bath College students and new business owners. We love to host networking events for all our business clients, bringing the Bath business community together – with a side of great local food and drink.
Outside of business… what are your passions?
I’m quickly learning that to be successful, you must invest in time out of the business. I’m an extrovert who loves to be around people, so I always try to make time for family and friends.
My husband and I love getting together with those we love – enjoying great food, lots of drinks and listening to Jazz. If I’m not working, you will often find me cooking up a storm, dining out at a great restaurant, on holiday or at a jazz gig! We lead a full and fun life outside of work too – Work hard, play hard, sleep hard!
What’s next for Taste of Bath?
The plan has always been for my hometown of Bath to be the template of a nationwide business. With cities represented under the ‘Taste-of’ family. Taste of Bristol will be launching in 2020, with all produce being sourced within 20 miles of Bristol.
The plan post 2020 is to take the successful model and launch in Cardiff, Exeter and Oxford, with a nationwide roll out in the next 5 years.