Five months of hard work, anticipation and sleepless nights
After five months of hard work, anticipation and sleepless nights I was finally ready to hit the UK festival scene with my brand new Berlin brünch Bar.
My mission was to change the way we eat breakfast at festivals and spread the Berlin brünch love across the country.
Reading about Wilderness made me want to go – ‘Meet the world’: a world of creativity and culture, of festival and flora, of ideas and identity. Wilderness aims to slip off your shoes, settle you down and then showcase the best of who we are, where we belong and what we create’. I could see my inner self jumping up and down in joy when reading those lines and I made it my mission to make 2016 my festival year!
I designed a brünch brochure outlining briefly my concept and philosophy, menu, look and feel of the stall and my vision. I sent it off to some of the best foodie festivals in the UK including Wilderness, Jamie Oliver Big Feastival, Womad, Foodies Festival, etc
I sent my applications in January and the responses I received were incredible. I was offered pitches at almost every festival I applied for. I could not believe it!
For the first time I got a glimpse of how much it would cost to trade at festivals and how much work it actually takes to get involved. Each offer included ‘pitch fees’ and an extensive list of required documentation ranging from health & food safety to building guidelines, insurance, risk assessment, food hygiene ratings, certifications and so forth. It was a lot and quite overwhelming.
Pitch fees vary from festival to festival and depend on what you sell, how large your stall is and where you will be located. Some festivals last for three days some for four, so that will matter when assessing pitch fees.
My menu is mainly cold and includes lots of beautiful vegan and vegetarian options. My stall measured about 3m x 3m and my pitch fees ranged from £1,000 – £1,800 inc VAT per festival. On top of that comes electricity (another couple of hundreds), staff costs, food costs, van hire and fridge trailer hire. Some even charge you for staff camping. Usually you sleep behind your stall though in a tent, which is quite fun.
I plugged in a few numbers into my spread sheets based on..well..I had no clue what I was doing to be honest. Estimating how much food you will sell is like guessing if it is going to rain in a month. Festivals are quite volatile. It depends on so many variables including weather, size of festival and if the festival sells out or not, number of traders, number of traders who offer similar food as you, demographics of visitors and so forth.
So relatively blindly I accapted three offers – Wilderness (obviously!) Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival and a number of the Foodie Festivals. My calendar looked pretty packed all of the sudden and I started to freak out. I had it in my head that 2016 was going to be my festival year and I knew it will be a lot of fun but I realised I took on more than I could chew at that point.
I had to make a decision. So I called up the Foodies Festival and pulled out last minute purely because they already started in May and I was not ready at all. I also had to decline No. 6 Festival because it was simply too expensive and so far away.
So I went ahead with Wilderness and The Big Feastival and I was excited!
Below a few things that were on my to do list:
- Stall Designs – How will my stall look like?
- Stall Build – and how will I built it??
- Logistics & Transport – How do I get all my stuff to and from the festivals?
- Storage – Where would I leave all my festival stuff afterwards and in between?
- Food Preparation – Where would I cook all of my food beforehand?
- Perishables – How was I going to keep my food cold on site for so long?
- Power & Water – How would I supply my stall with electricity and water?
- Budget – How much money will this all cost me?
- Menu – What’s my menu going to look like?
- Staffing – Who is going to come with me?
- Documents – Risk Assessments, hygiene ratings, method statements ?!?!
I panicked..again! But there was no way back now. Deposits were paid!
I am incredibly grateful for all the amazing support I have received from my friends who sat down with me to go through it all and who believed in me and my ideas.
At this stage I want to say a big thank you to my awesome girls Sarah, Esther, Dani, Sophie G, Lucy, Vicky, Emma and Lucy, then David and Alfie at Smokestak, Terry and Ash at Streetfeast, my mum and my housemates who let me take over the garden. Without you all I would have thrown in the towel before the fun had even started! ❤
After my panic attack, it was time to get to work! I started to get all the required documentation together which took me a solid month at least! I had to get my hygiene rating from the council (5 out of 5 woop woop!!! ;p ) and actually properly organise myself.
I helped Smokestak at a few festivals around the country to gain first-hand experience and it was amazing. Lost Village and Secret Garden Party. Work hard play hard. I was officially becoming a festival lover.
One of the exciting parts was designing my menu. I launched BrotZeit in November 2015, a combination of ‘Brot’ meaning bread and ‘Zeit’ meaning time. BrotZeit is based on the Berliner ‘Stulle’ concept, which is Berlin slang for an open sandwich and an extremely popular breakfast, lunch and dinner snack. Later I re-branded BrotZeit to ‘brünch – the Berlin Breakfast Bar’.
The menu would dictate my operational flow, equipment requirements and stall design so I spent a lot of time perfecting it.
I sketched up my stall ideas and designed it roughly on paper and the extremely talented Adam Knight, who I have been working with from day one, made my ideas come to life.
I researched companies that could tailor build the structure of my stall. I obtained a few quotes and chose Trader Supplies, whose customer support was amazing. They used my sketches to come up with this.
A few weeks later I received my tailor-made stall structure in various bits and pieces. It was worse than ikea!
In the meantime I had all my documentation together and deliveries for me were piling up high in my room. Fire extinguishers, a big safe, tarpaulins, rubber floor matts, hot water urns, a baine marie, gastronomes, chopping boards, steel mesh, the list is endless.
All my biodigradable paper plates I sourced from Biopac, who are really good and offer great value for money in my opinion.
I had to buy a garden shed to store all of my purchases. Thank you so so much to my housemate Toby for building it together for me one morning.
Then it was June and I was off for three weeks travelling in Canada! Not quite the best timing I must admit and I almost cancelled because there was so much going on, but my girls made sure I went. I am so glad I did go! It was beyond beautiful and I really needed it.
It is so important to step back sometimes, breath and create head space. Work hard but allow yourself time to recover and to enjoy life in all its beauty. What is it all worth for otherwise? It sounds easier said than done but it is important to remember from time to time.
So when I got back from Canada, it was time to push full steam ahead and build my Berlin brünch Bar. I had one month to go before my first festival!
I started with building the structure of the stall in my garden. Epic! I took over my whole garden!
I then collected a bunch of free wood from Hackney Wick that I had found on freecycle. The guy had just closed down his artist studio and wanted to get rid of everything he had. I wasn’t quite sure yet what I would need, but I just took it all, including all his floor boards!
I watched a few DIY youtube clips and sanded down all my newly acquired wood.
Step by step. ‘Create something out of little’.
My mate Terry helped me cut the wood for me and Ash took me through an Electrics crash course and helped me build my power infrastructure.
We finished everything in time for Wilderness! 😀
Next on the list was booking a fridge trailer and getting my supplies sorted. Over the past few months I had been meeting with various suppliers across London and Oxfordshire.
Although It was hard work and I reached my limits at times, it was such an incredible and unforgettable time. I met lots of beautiful people and I would not want to miss any of it.
Whatever you do, give it your all and embrace whatever happens, even if it is not according to plan! You never know where it may lead you 🙂
I have so much more to say but I will keep it for some future blog posts.
If you are thinking about trading at festivals and you have any questions at all about festivals and trading at festivals, don’t be shy and drop me a message. I would love to see others flourish and realise their dreams although it might seem impossible at first.
Don’t give up!