To gain a unique view of what it takes to succeed as a new business, in June 2014 the Bank launched 'Start-up Stories', following one small business on their growth journey each month.
Having turned to Twitter in search of a star for the series, Aldermore eventually cast East-London catering start-up Bestowed Kitchen in the leading role, run by co-founders Jeremy Wood and Sabrina Floriani.
July - August 2014
The summer season proved popular for Bestowed Kitchen, who were invited to cater for a number of local events including the E17 Art Trail, the Walthamstow Garden Party and several smaller pop-up functions.
This challenged the young pair of entrepreneurs to adapt their cooking style to their clients' diverse requirements, from providing take-away lunch packs to producing over 800 canapés in one evening.
September - October 2014
With the summer events season drawing to a close, Bestowed Kitchen were glad to have more time to look into their business strategy and review their goals for the future.
September and October saw the new business' owners getting to grips with pricing quotes for clients, planning event logistics and learning to say no to jobs that didn't match their brand.
The pair also found out about an exciting new opportunity on the horizon, when they were invited to host their own pop-up cafe for a fortnight in 2015.
November - December 2014
November was a month of celebration for Bestowed Kitchen, who became the proud winner of 'Best Start-up' in the Waltham Forest Business Network’s 2014 Small Business Competition.
Spurred on by the win, co-founders Floriani and Wood were keen to develop the business further, starting to write up a business plan and research how to measure advertising effectiveness.
After the highs of November, December began with a minor setback as illness forced Wood to cancel an event, highlighting just how demanding balancing a business with full time work and personal commitments can be.
Determined to move forwards nonetheless, the young entrepreneur set to work on planning for the 2015 pop-up, designing a website for the brand, organising a photo shoot for his dishes and completing his first tax return.
January - February 2015
Bestowed Kitchen began 2015 with a new lease of life, ready to throw everything into planning for their first pop-up cafe in March.
This process underlined how much entrepreneurs often have to rely on their contacts for support. Wood's designer friend offered to create a new logo and website for the business, while a journalist friend helped with PR matters and mentor Christian Honor, who runs Muswell Hill eatery Chris Kitch, advised on staffing.
A number of challenges surfaced for Bestowed Kitchen along the way, particularly over how to adapt their event menus for a two-week run and where to source staff and coffee suppliers, given the temporary format.
In the final few weeks before their pop-up launch, Bestowed Kitchen's co-founders spent many late nights and early mornings putting the final touches on the preparations.
The pair learnt the value of networking and collaborating with other small businesses, sourcing furniture from a local designer and drinks for their launch party from a nearby craft brewer.
Their efforts at promoting the venue also began to pay off, earning a two-page feature in a local magazine, many new fans on social media and even a mention in Time Out's 'Ten pop-ups you won't want to miss in March' list.
In fact, word of mouth about the cafe soon spread, driving footfall and resulting in highly positive reviews from London food bloggers and publications. This resounding success led to the pair being offered the chance to extend the pop-up beyond its initial two-week run, continuing every weekend until late May.
April - May 2015
Having extended the duration of their pop-up, Bestowed Kitchen saw their efforts met with a more variable response over the next six weeks. Though the reason for quiet days wasn't always clear, a lack of time to notify customers about the change in plans is likely to have played a part, causing confusion over opening times.
Finding staff on such short notice also proved problematic at times, leaving the intense task of running the cafe solely to co-founders Jeremy Wood and Sabrina Floriani: a tough ask for even the most seasoned caterers. Keen to use this as a chance to learn, Wood explained that the experience had reinforced how many sacrifices entrepreneurs must sometimes make.
After a year of both incredible successes and difficult hurdles, Co-founders Wood and Floriani are now looking forward to having time to really think about where their business is heading and whether they're ready for the next big leap into running Bestowed Kitchen full-time.
The search will soon begin for a new Start-up Stories star, but Aldermore looks forward to hearing more from the pair in the future, since this small business' journey is far from over.
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