Our latest video sees Carla Taylor, Director of Penelopes Kitchen, Penelope’s Deli and Love Conquers All, discuss what it’s like working in the middle of MediaCityUK and what advice she has for new starters.
Carla Taylor – Penelope’s Kitchen Transcript
What’s your name, position and where do you work?
Describe your business in one sentence.
It’s not rocket science what we do – we make amazing food from local suppliers for the lovely people of MediaCity.
What separates you from the competition?
I’m based at MediaCity so we’re kind of like we’re on a campus so all the competition – I’ve got a deli, there’s another deli on site – but we all work together, really. It’s very communal. We meet up for coffee, we catch up with each other. So what we do is we sell great food, we use local suppliers, we don’t do anything that’s – we run the business the way it should be ran. Which is supporting local community and just making really good food at a really good price, really. But when it comes to competition, I don’t really see them as competition because sometimes I need a recommendation for a bread supplier and they’ll give me one or I’ll need to borrow some gas from Dockyard for the bar and we’ll loan it, so we kind of don’t really see each other as competition. The better the site does, the better the businesses do there so it’s very communal.
What have been the highlights of your company so far?
We’ve done things like we’ve done television shoots and films and things that are super exciting. We did the debate – that was probably one of my favourites because we pulled it off and it was incredibly seamless and the feedback on the actual debate and getting to meet our now, today, Prime Minister, Theresa May was, I thought, a really cool thing. Things like that are really awesome but then we’ve just done a sky ride that was amazing, next week we’ve got a triathlon in MediaCity, so I’m in a really good position where all the time I’m constantly impressed by the business or by the team and it’s very exciting.
What qualities are needed to succeed in your industry?
Very tenacious and very passionate about what you do. So be fully knowledgeable and understand everything about what you’re trying to offer whether you be a gin supplier or a new street foodie. And then, if you are really happy and really content, you believe in what you do, other people believe in you and it kind of snowballs from there. You can’t really blag it because too many people in this industry are super knowledgable about what they do and are experts in their field and if you’re just doing it for a quick buck it’s just not going to work. But if you’re doing it because you love it, the money comes later and you can in line for an amazing career.
Why do new businesses choose Manchester?
It’s just never finished, it’s constantly evolving and there’s always little pockets of the new place that’s coming next. I used to be a PA on Tibb Street and I used to run down Tibb Street so fast trying to and from work and now, it’s 15 years later and I go for lunch at Sugar Junction and it’s just one of the most amazing places. But then there’s new places like Stevenson Square and then there’s Ardwick and so I think it’s the thing of it’s never finished so you never know what’s going to be next and that’s the charm of it. Manchester will never be finished it will constantly be evolving.
Who are some local companies you would recommend?
I’m a big fan of All the Shapes in Prestwich, I think it’s fantastic. I’m really into independents that are on the side of Manchester in the suburbs and that’s a really good one. It’s fantastic food, great service, so that’s a brilliant one.
We deal with some fantastic local suppliers and they just help me everyday run the business. So from Frosts who supply my burgers to Thatchers who are a fantastic bakery that are in Stockport and Our Coffee in Didsbury. And also some of the people that started quite small that have now… like Roger at Our Coffee in Didsbury – it was just him in the beginning and now he’s got the whole team in there and his delivery drivers and it’s nice to see, just in three years that I started that how other companies have done well too.
Who do you think are the most influential people in the local business scene?
I’ve always gotten on really well with Chris Lee who had the Yacht Club years ago at Spinningfields and now he’s got an amazing business called Beach Street which is in Manchester and London. He’s always been a great supporter that I can call up and he’s somebody I can lean on and stuff. Lyndon Higginson is an all-round lovely guy, and has some fantastic projects in Manchester like Crazy Pedro’s, working with Chris on Beach Street and there’s lots and lots but them two – I think as I’m seeing them today, they’re just stuck in my head!
Do you have any advice for new businesses in Manchester?
Start small. I’ve talks in the council and loads of people want a shop straight away or they just want to be in a premises and it’s just not – for me – just not the way to do it. I started off doing street food, creating a following and it kind of went from there, really, so my advice is don’t look for shop premises and think that you need to do that, so maybe start small, really small. What you think you’re going to do is probably not what you’re going to do in six months time. So your customers will help evolve your menu and give you great feedback so start small really. Do the markets and do the smaller things and perfect what you’re trying to achieve. Therefore you’ll build a following and then your customers – I mean with my business – the customers dictate how it really goes because it’s theirs just as much as it is mine. It’s the same when you’re starting out really. Start small, don’t start big. Really hone your craft and then as you start doing better and better, then look at the bigger picture.
What’s the main benefit of working in Manchester?
The main benefit I think’s just got to be communal spirit, everybody works together so I’ve found companies that are big, small, new – you work together and you ask somebody a favour or ‘do you know anybody who’s looking for staff?’ or just there’s that kind of communal thing really. It’s a great place to start. I don’t think I would have done as well I’ve done so far if I’d not started in Manchester. Everybody kind of embraced me and brought me up when I was first starting out and were really supportive of what my vision was really, and told people and I think that’s from being in Manchester.
Where are your favourite places to eat and drink in Manchester?
To eat would be All the Shapes in Prestwich, and to drink would be Washhouse, a sneaky secret cocktail bar which is near the Printworks if you find it, that’s it, it’s pretty tucked away.
Thanks for watching. My name’s Carla Taylor from Penelope’s and this was huddled.