From the start
Firstly let us introduce ourselves; our names are Edwin and Magda and we are the owners of Artisan – now a thriving independent coffee shop in south west London. We are newbies to the coffee shop industry and this is a blog about our journey and we are very excited to share the highs and lows of our first year of trading with Café Culture. As we write this sitting in our coffee shop, it is now the 10th week since we opened but a massive 52 weeks since we started pursuing our dream of owning our own independent coffee shop. Having both spent a year in Uganda in 2010; we arrived back in the UK and decided to shun the usual 9-5. Seeing the trend of independent coffee houses in Central and East London we made it our aim to bring quality coffee to the South West of the city and have now settled in Putney. Magda brings a passion for authentic fine tasting coffee – coming from Australia where coffee is more of an obsession than a drink. However now that Artisan is up and running, we realise we are working 5-9 instead of the usual 9-5!
We started by writing our comprehensive business plan, which in the end came to 48 pages and within it we researched the market, outlined our USP and assessed exactly what we would need to achieve our goals in terms of resources. We then showed this to anyone who would listen to us, knocking down doors to try and meet with other owners and coffee experts. This helped us refine the plan and it became more realistic; we then raised the necessary capital through our own savings (a very scary thing to do) and private investors who used the business plan to base their decisions on.
Finding a location was and is incredibly difficult and we were heartbroken on more than one occasion. We spent a huge amount of time trying to build relationships with chartered surveyors and made sure that any offer we made was professional and quick, however time and time again we found that established shops with a number of stores where chosen by landlords over us. This lead to many, many nights wondering if we would ever get a location – it seemed to be a depressing catch 22 with us wanting a good location but landlords only wanting businesses with a track record which in turn we couldn’t get until we had a good location!
After many months we finally we found a great spot in Putney on Upper Richmond Road and in April 2011 began the lease negotiations which seemed to drag on, as the existing tenant was breaking their lease. Through the solicitors, these negotiations went on for 6 months until finally on a wet Tuesday afternoon in October, we sat in an empty shop that was about to become Artisan.