Our #FemaleFounders series celebrates female-founded businesses across the UK. Posted bi-weekly, you can find plenty of inspiration and advice from these business badasses.
Welcome to the very first instalment of our #FemaleFounders blog post series! We’re so excited to share the inspirational women killing it every day as female leaders and change makers. And we couldn’t be happier that our first interview is with the up-and-coming coffee queens The Girls Who Grind Coffee (GWG). Set up just six short months ago by duo Fi and Casey, GWG is already making waves. I came to discover them on Instagram and instantly fell in love with their boldly designed packaging and fun tone of voice, and I can’t wait to introduce you to the powerhouses running the show. I sat down with Fi and Casey to discover how they set up their own business and came to be the #FemaleFounders of Girls Who Grind Coffee.
1. Why did you start Girls Who Grind Coffee?
FI: It was a number of reasons really, myself and Casey both have coffee backgrounds. I’ve cafes previously and Casey is a coffee roaster. We got to a point where we wanted to start our own thing and were getting tired of working for others. We actually ended up meeting through baby yoga! We found we both had a desire to change the male-dominated coffee industry and we thought one of the best ways to do this was to start up on our own. Casey and I have complementary skill sets – what she’s good at isn’t what I’m good at and vice versa. We both wanted to create a product that speaks to women and challenge the notion that working with machines could only be done by men. Casey is rare as a female coffee roaster and we’re proud of that.
2. What are the unique challenges you have faced as a female founder?
FI: Something that struck me was people didn’t take us seriously. For example, when we were viewing our business property we had an estate agent say “Maybe you should try writing your idea down on paper, you might find it doesn’t look like such a good idea then.” And we’ve also had it where we get a huge influx of enquiries to stock our product around International Women’s Day but then it dies out afterwards. Really, people should want to support female businesses year round, not just on a national holiday. I suppose it’s trying to lose that tag of “women in coffee” and being taken seriously as business owners.
3. What were the steepest learning curves during your first year in business?
CASEY: We’re only six months into the business but I think for us it’s got to be cash flow. It’s such a learning curve and it can be an emotional rollercoaster getting it right.
4. What is your favourite thing about founding your own company?
FI: For me, it’s got to be the creative freedom behind decision making – there’s no red tape anymore! If I want something to happen, it does.
CASEY: Setting up my own coffee business has been a lifelong dream of mine. Ever since I was little, so for me it’s realising a dream I’ve always wanted.
5.What is the best business advice you have been given by someone else?
FI: I went to talk recently and the thrust of it was “Making mistakes is OK”. When we’re faced with a mistake we ask ourselves; “Will we remember this in a year? If the answer is No we let it go quickly.”
6. What business tools can’t you live without?
CASEY: I use a coffee roasting software called Cropster, which makes every part of roasting easier for me.
FI: I think my go-to tool has to be Xero, it’s pretty easy to get your head around and it gives you a clear overview of what’s going on in your business.
7. When you’ve got a tough business decision to make what would be your first steps to solving the problem?
FI: When things start to feel like they’re getting on top of us we go out and have a drink, escape to London for a little bit or simply do something non-work related. You need breathing room from your company to help it thrive.
8. Who are your heroines and why?
FI: It’s got to be Vivienne Westwood and Morag Myerscough. Vivienne because she’s fearless and always knows how to use her voice – especially as she’s gotten older. And Morag for her use of colour.
CASEY: Mine has to be my Grandma – she didn’t take shit from anyone.
9. What piece of advice would you give yourself if you were starting your business now?
FI: We’re only at the beginning of our journey as a company but I’m happy with most of the decisions we’ve made together – maybe just a smaller espresso machine?
10. What’s your go-to marketing tactic for your small business? Why?
FI: We’re a very visual brand so we rely heavily on Instagram and other social media channels. We can almost guarantee now if we put a picture of a t-shirt up on social that it will translate into a sale. For me, it’s important to keep it feeling real and authentic. I rarely schedule content and try to keep it feeling spur of the moment.
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