The Coolest Surrey Street Food Biz Out There - Meet Business Owners Kathryn & Sam
"Juggling your workload between full-time work and the business has been very challenging... (but) nothing beats the feeling of setting up for your first event, serving your first customer and receiving fantastic feedback!"
Today Words Do The Talking's Business Insights Hub is joined by Kathryn and Sam: the dream team duo who are as passionate (if not more so) about delicious wine and mouth-wateringly-good cheese as the French.
And it's this infatuation with the gooey, smooth stuff which gave them the edge to follow through with their ideas and open their own Surrey street food business and brand The Drunken Mouse (this name is so very cool).
By sourcing local Surrey produce, grafting hard, creating beautiful Methuselah (you'll meet her later) and being genuinely approachable business owners who want to meet their customers, this indie-meets-festival-chic street food company and its owners are reaching the heights of the Duncan Murray's of the wine world and Lynher Dairies of the cheese world.
Read on to gain small (for now) business tips, insights and to get a nosey peep into the day-to-day running of this Surrey-based surprise.
All we can say is... We now love mice, drunken mice to be precise.
Q. Hi Kathryn and Sam, thank you so much for your time today. Tell us about The Drunken Mouse - who you are and what you do?
A. The Drunken Mouse is primarily a street food company based in Surrey, serving cheese platters and hot food with a cheese twist. All paired with handpicked world quality wine, locally sourced cider and gin cocktails. We serve at events, parties, weddings and festivals.
We are a couple that have always had a passion for cheese and sourcing drinks that go fantastically with it. Sam is the son of a cider maker and my first job (many moons ago) was on a cheese counter. I was even cool
enough to hang a cheese poster on my wall at university rather than some scantily clad, toned band member! Our very first holiday was travelling around France and from there we were obsessed…!
We have since hunted out, tried and tested the very best locally-sourced cheeses to pair up with our hand selected drinks, to bring about a culinary experience that we are so excited to share with all of you!
Q. A business powered by passion - we like it. What was the thinking behind the very funky name The Drunken Mouse?
A. We put together a charity event last year and wanted each area to have a distinctive name. One of our main areas was a cheese and wine tent and we put it out there to our friends to help us think of a name. One friend
instantly came back with The Drunken Mouse and we loved it! Jeroboam our friendly well-dressed mouse (Jerry for short) eats cheese and he certainly loves wine!
Q. We must say he is rather cute. Tell us about the converted horse box - that sounds fun!
A. We have made our drunken mouse a home, in the style of an old converted horse box, re-named Methuselah. A Methuselah holds 6 Litres of champagne, or 1 imperial gallon (that's a lot of Champagne). Methuselah was also the oldest and wisest man in the Bible, living to a grand old age of 969, and we thought it was a fitting name to house our very own Drunken Mouse.
Q. What else makes you tick besides fine cheese and fine wine?
A. We have both always been avid social butterflies; loving music, events, festivals and trying out new and crazy experiences. We love going to supper clubs and food festivals and are constantly learning about the industry we are now so excited to be a part of.
Aside from that we both like to keep active and challenge ourselves… I completed the full Tough Mudder earlier this year (the arctic ice was an experience I never, EVER want to re-live) and Sam has just signed up to do Ride London next year, and another event in the planning stages is to get the first wheelchair bound group up the 3 peaks next June.
Q. Incredible - best of luck with all three. From an idea through to reality; how long did it take to start your business and what were your biggest new business hurdles?
A. Setting up the business has been something that we have wanted to do for years and recognising that The Drunken Mouse was such a success at our charity event last June was the deciding factor that this was our calling. It wasn’t until we were talking to a chef about our idea on holiday last November, who joked that it was a great name and he was going to roll with it, that we actually bit the bullet and set-up as a company.
We got our first few events booked in for July this year and the rest, as they say, is history!
As anyone will tell you, there are many hurdles that you face setting up a business… time and juggling your workload between full-time work and the business has been very challenging; also trying to take into account all the unknowns. For example, we didn’t realise we needed to register our business with the local council 28 days before trading, but we were lucky enough to have a council that would come and assess us just 2 days before trading (the day after applying), and award us a 5* food hygiene rating! Some of it is just done by the skin of your teeth!
Q. What's been the best part about building your wine and cheese business?
A. Wow, there are so many amazing things we have loved about building the business; from sourcing all our products (trying our cheese and wine is the best job ever!), to creating amazing recipes for events and holding a fantastic launch party for our family and friends, it has been an incredible journey so far… but I have to say that nothing beats the feeling of setting up for your first event, serving your first customer and receiving fantastic feedback from people that you meet along the way. The reception has been incredible so far, thank you!
Q. Any tips, dos and don'ts you would share with someone who is turning their business idea into a reality?
A. Do try and meet and be-friend as many people as you can. It’s not always what you know but who you know, and we have not only learnt so much from meeting amazing people but also built a lot of future business, suppliers and shared priceless ideas. There are many local networking organisations that you can sign up to that provide you with support, advice and great contacts.
Don’t forget to be organised! Annoyingly setting up a business isn’t just about selling the product you love. Especially with food, there are many other things that make a business successful; keeping up to date with
legislations, having your finances in order so that you can complete your accounts and having a plan for the future. Some of this is still on our to-do-list, and knowing that it is not complete and that you are not fully in control is an added stress you can do without when you just want to be out there doing what you love.
Q. We use words in everyday life and via marketing techniques; how have they helped your business so far?
A. Words are incredibly powerful when marketing your business and in such a digital age this can be easy to forget, but they have helped us form our business identity and the character of The Drunken Mouse. Our business name is a prime example of that, the instant that we share it with people they smile, and they don’t need to see the logo or view pictures of what we do in order to know that we are a fun company, which is passionate about cheese and wine, but don’t take ourselves too seriously.
Q. We could not agree more. So, how then would you describe your brand's tone of voice?
A. Our brand’s tone is definitely geared at presenting ourselves as a fun business. There is a slight cheekiness to The Drunken Mouse and we want people to be drawn in by the overall character of the business. We have
got people to try things that they were adamant against and changed their views towards different food pairings! I love the challenge when someone says they don’t like cheese or wine…
Q. Which other brands would you most like to collaborate with?
A. We are currently working on some really exciting projects with local businesses such as The VineKing in Reigate, Glassmates UK (a whiskey tasting company) and (MasterChef 2010 winner)Dhruv Baker of Tempus Charcuterie.
There are so many fantastic brands and businesses that we would like to collaborate with. We are really passionate about working with and supporting our local community and so would love to create some food and
drink pairings with the likes of Albury Vineyard and Distillers of Surrey.
In terms of food brands… our all-time hero in the food industry is Jamie Oliver. We own pretty much all of his books and love his flare and passion for food and getting people cooking. He has also done a lot to highlight
the importance of a good meal, especially with school dinners, and it would be fantastic to work with him as he has already shaped much of our cooking style for The Drunken Mouse.
Q. What's next for The Drunken Mouse?
A. We are now filling up our event calendar for Autumn and next year and are developing some really quirky and delicious menus for Supper Clubs.
Watch our web-space and Instagram for some exciting announcements about collaborations we are doing and boozy, cheese-filled evenings we will be hosting at some amazing and unusual local Surrey venues!
Q. Where can we get our hands on your tasty cheese, smooth wine and cool ambiance?
A. Follow us on our social media pages or check out the website, www.thedrunkenmouse.co.uk to keep up to date with events we will be at.
Please also feel free to get in touch via email, firstname.lastname@example.org. We cater for private events, dinner parties and are generally chatty people that love talking about cheese and wine!
There really isn’t anything we can’t do for you, give us a challenge!
Vital business tips to take away
1. Be yourself in business - customers want to connect with a real person
2. Ask for feedback and advice from friends, especially when it comes to naming your brand
3. Be ready to sacrifice your time to focus on your business venture
4. Make time for self-development and helping charities through events and sponsorship
5. Eat cheese, drink wine and have a bl**dy good time.
Can you handle anymore inspiration? If so, click here to read about the brand that went from £0 to £4 million in just 4 years.
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