The Cookery Club: A home grown start-up

Sarah Campbell became interested in growing her own food when trying to create healthy meals for her two children. After growing her own food in her garden, she decided to turn her new found hobby into a business. BQ found out how she got The Cookery Club off the ground.

Sarah became interested in growing her own food after moving from Glasgow with her two children to Brinklow in Rugby.

After giving birth to another son, she was keen to create nutritious homemade food for her children and started to grow food in her garden.

Her new found passion for cooking developed into a business idea and while working as a commercial assistant at Coventry University’s engineering and computing faculty, she met with the business support programme, SPEED Plus, and The Cookery Club was born.

Sarah thought about several cooking based businesses for a year before she met with a business mentor provided by SPEED Plus.

She said: “When I had my two eldest boys in my late teens, I cooked them quick, unhealthy food because I didn’t have the knowledge and understanding of eating good, healthy food.

“After we moved from city life in Glasgow to village life in Brinklow where people grew their own food and my youngest son, Myles, was born, it was a different way of life and from that grew my business idea for The Cookery Club.”

The aim of Sarah’s business is two-fold: to encourage pre-school and primary school children to grow their own food and to run children’s parties with a cooking theme.

Sarah has contacted local councils, schools and nurseries in the Rugby area about working with children about the food they can grow at home and in the schools’ gardens.

She plans to give children seeds to take home to encourage the idea of growing food at home. Since this is season-dependent, Sarah was aware she needed another strand to her business which led to the idea of holding children’s parties which can take place throughout the year.

In order to get the business off the ground, Sarah completed a Food Hygiene course and started her children’s parties for up to 16 children, priced at £12.50 per child.

She has since sourced miniature aprons, chef hats and utensils and the children use fair trade ingredients to make fun and exciting food in a party setting.

Each child goes home with the goodies they have created along with a certificate and goody bag containing a gift.

She continued: “The children love it because they get messy and have fun tasting their creations.

“I held my first children’s party at Long Lawford Village Hall but they can be held in the homes of the children since the parties are mobile.

“I play rugby for Rugby Lionesses and the club has offered me free use of their facilities to run cookery classes for the children who play rugby. As well as cookery skills, it teaches the importance of team work.”

After a number of parents got in contact about running cooking parties – Sarah decided to launch a website and took to social media to further promote her business.

Her business mentor encouraged Sarah to take the plunge and concentrate on her business fulltime, which resulted in her leaving her job at the University to work full time on the company.

Sarah said: “I am excited but nervous and this is something I really want to do. SPEED Plus has helped enormously because I don’t have a great deal of self-confidence and there have been times when I have been guilty of over-thinking.

“Their belief in my business idea really gave me the push I needed because every business has highs and lows and you have to cope with them.

“The courses SPEED Plus held gave me an insight into running a business such as marketing, accounting and sorting out the price range for the children’s parties.”

Sarah is also organising cookery classes for Coventry University students who want to create dishes for one instead of buying expensive, less nutritious takeaways.

She has also contacted The National Allotment Society to get in touch with allotment holders who would like to sell their produce at reduced rates to families who don’t have the resources to grow their own food.

“There are so many opportunities such as networking with other schools that I didn’t have time to pursue before because I was working full-time, looking after the children and starting my business,” she said.

“I will now have the time to concentrate on the business full-time and I can’t wait!”