Starting a Business in North London: Wild Goose Bakery
The bakery founder on the community and creative spirit that makes North London such a great start-up location
Company name: Wild Goose Bakery
Founders: Vernon and Kirstin Steyn
Description: An artisan bakery with a focus on homemade, locally sourced and seasonal foods
What’s great about starting a business in North London?
For us it has been the sense of community, this is something that is obvious in every area of life and business here, from getting our business loan from a local financer to help from the council. It helped us to build a loyal customer base and has been vital in how we have developed relationships as a new business in the East.
We also have a strong focus on art, the walls of our space are conceived of as a gallery and we plan to rotate work of local artists, all of whom will be offered the space free of charge. Artists will be asked to contribute 10% of their profit from sales of art to a community charity that is being supported by The Wild Goose Bakery during that month – we believe that if the area was not so community based then this would not have been possible.
What business support in the area have you used? How was it?
We leased a brand new retail unit on the high street, which was quite affordable as the area is still ‘up-and-coming’ and it meant we could start from scratch and build everything exactly how we wanted it rather than adapting what was already there, it also meant no premium which was fantastic.
The down side though was that we were literally handed a shell with no utility connections, existing licenses, and council paperwork so we had to invest a lot of time on that instead of actually starting the business itself. The council has been massively helpful in this regard by always being available to advise and help along our start-up journey.
Name the top three reasons to set up a business in North London:
- Fast-growing. As I said before this is an up-and-coming area, which means it’s becoming increasingly popular and is expanding rapidly.
- Community feel. There is still a strong community spirit; which means local businesses are supported and it’s a great place to live in.
- Support. The council is also supportive to new businesses which has been a massive help. Finally there is a large creative hub of artists and musicians etc. making it a great place to get inspiration from daily.
Where could North London be better / what does it need?
We desperately need more independent businesses in the West, to add even more character to the area as well as offer more to the expanding public here – and finally also on a personal business level – to act as suppliers!
How easy has it been to access finance to grow?
We found it relatively easy to access finance but I do believe that this was down to our funding partner. We got a business loan from NatWest and from our experience we cannot recommend it enough as they really were the ‘helpful bank’.
Where do you go to network in your area?
The local pubs are all great and everyone is very open and willing to be-friend you. In regards to our networking we have found social networks really helpful in order to create a buzz before we opened and they continue to help as our business grows.
Where do you take a client for a business lunch?
Most of our business meetings are held here at the bakery due to our hectic schedule, but there is also a great local bar called the Red Lion, which has great food so I recommend it for a client lunch but perhaps a less formal one.
Where’s great for a company night out?
A great place for food is The Panda. This is a fantastic family-owned dim sum restaurant, which is small but has oodles of personality and most importantly lovely food.
Again, the Red Lion pub is a great place to grab a drink and let your hair down after a crazy week. It has live music music most nights and an outdoor cinema during the summer.