Does your business show the most promise in Aberdeen City and Shire?
Today we take a look at the owners of local success story; Bagels and Stuff, winners of the Elevator Awards 2015 in the Most Promising New Business award category.
This award is presented to a business under 12 months old, performing particularly well in the first year of trading - applications are currently open until Friday 11th of March 2016 at 5pm. If you would like to find out more and register for an application form, please CLICK HERE TO VISIT elevatorawards.com.
What started out as a pipe-dream for Louise Divarquez and Laura Poppe has turned out to be a hugely successful award-winning enterprise in Aberdeen’s West End after just 15 months of business.
After years of working in hospitality for other people, the duo decided to take a ‘leap of faith’ and jump in with both feet after visiting a bagel café in Manchester in February 2014. They are now the very proud owners of the trendy and popular Bagels & Stuff in Aberdeen’s Thistle Street, where they have served an estimated 50,000 bagels since opening their doors in December 2014.
Louise and Laura had both built their careers in the catering business, latterly working for Thainstone Events and Highland Cuisine.
“Working in catering is extremely full on and we decided that we wanted a better work-life balance,”
said Louise, who worked her way up in hospitality from waitress, hospitality manager, food and beverage manager to general manager in a range of jobs in Glasgow, Italy and aboard five-star cruise ships before ending up in the North-east, where she met Laura.
“We had been looking for something different and it was while we were in Manchester that we visited a great little bagel café which was totally mobbed and offered a variety of bagel-type sandwiches and great coffee. We really liked it and wondered why was there nothing like it in Aberdeen, as we would definitely want to hang out there on a day off.”
Louise and Laura, who is from Inverurie, thought about it for several months before deciding to bite the bullet in July 2014, when they took their first tentative steps towards realising their dream
“We approached Elevator and they recommended we go on the Business Gateway course for new start-ups. It was great, and meeting the advisers for the first time helped clear up a lot of questions for us. They put us in contact with the right people and we attended a couple of finance courses, which were really helpful. We actually started to feel that this was something we could do.
“After finding the premises on Thistle Street, we looked at what the competition was offering, who its customers were and where we could fit into the area. We needed to offer something different but not so different that we were a novelty, so we have ensured that we have an offering for everyone. If bagels aren’t your cup of tea, there is still something available.”
After just three months, daily sales figures were well on target and the next three months saw customer numbers increasing.
“We wanted to open before Christmas so it was all hands on deck and, with the help of family and friends, in one week the shop was unrecognisable. Our concept was a modern take on the traditional sandwich and coffee offering - nothing too serious or pretentious - just simple, great food in laid back surroundings. It works really well.
“Our current marketing is strongly focused on social media, especially Facebook, which we consistently use as a way of communicating with our customers. It’s an ideal way of getting our message across and building a rapport with our customers in the shop and online,” said Louise.
Last year, Laura and Louise were encouraged to enter the 15th annual Elevator Awards and were over the moon when Bagels & Stuff scooped the award for Most Promising New Business.
“We knew we had a strong case, but we were still very surprised to win – it was a great night.
“The feedback we have had from customers over the past year has been really positive, both verbally and on our social media pages. We often host the ‘Aberdeen Food Lovers Meet and Greet’, a group of local and international people who get together to eat great food and enjoy each other’s company. We were able to help out at the last minute for their first visit and this resulted in further bookings.
“We love this place just as much as we thought we would and we believe the brand of Bagels & Stuff and the offer we have is strong enough to hold its own in any major city in the UK and hope that within the next 5 years that will be the case.”
The Most Promising new Business Award and nine other Elevator Award categories commending business success and entrepreneurial excellent in the North East of Scotland is open for applications until the March 11. Applications can be submitted at www.elevatorawards.comBack to all blogs