Its nearly time to move out of 2017 and on to the next year. Its now my fifth year of running the tea shop in Wath and my eleventh year of working in catering. I cant actually believe how the time has flown. At the same time it feels like a life time since I was starting out. Prepping lettuce, other salad items and making a hash of baking bread.
Starting work as a commis chef was exciting but also nerve racking and hard work. I'd start at 9am finish at 2pm for a break and sleep in one of the hotel rooms and then back at work for 4pm until 11pm. However this was nothing compared to the hours I was doing when I worked for Liz at Food for Thought. We were running the tea shop at Bolton Castle, which was five times bigger than Sally Shortcake and open seven days a week. We also had weddings on Saturddays and sometimes dinner parties on the Sunday. Work was non stop and could include 18 hour days with no real break apart from to shove a few canapes in my gob.
Non of that though seems to compare to how hard it has been running Sally Shortcake over the last four years. It could be that Ive forgotten how hard it was six years ago or its because I'm now in my thirties but with the shop its not just being physically worn out, its a mixture of many factors. I'm not going to lie to you, I find it hard. Sometimes more than others but there is a temptation sometime to just run away from it all.
Firstly its physically hard work. On your feet for 8 hours plus a day. Then for me there is the issue of doing the same thing day in day out. I wouldn't call myself a quitter but I do like variation in my work life. I've done so many different jobs and worked in different places. I think this is nearly the longest i've been in the same job, same routine etc etc.
Its restrictive. I like to travel, I like to see my friends and family and as much as I have amazing staff and my mum who help me run the shop, leaving other people in charge means a higher workload before I'm off and when I get back (we've tried it), so when I want a break or a holiday the shop closes.
The brings me on to the other area that makes this one of the hardest jobs ever. Money! Maybe some self employed people make a fortune but if I wanted to make my millions I wouldn't have picked this career path. I don't do this for the money. End of. I do what I do because, even though I moan about it a lot, there is nothing I would rather do. I love to bake, I love to create, I love to do marketing and I love running my own business. I am a massive believer in doing whatever makes you happy. I don't need money to be happy but I do need money to pay bills, both in business and at home and that is why this is an area of stress.
Since I opened the shop several other similar businesses have started in close proximity and this has had an impact on the business. Both negative and positive. I am a fan of the philosopy that staying the same is like going backwards so I am always trying to make improvements so that what we offer is never the same so we are always moving forward. Competition makes me work harder and this is by no means a bad thing, but it is something ive never had to deal with in my work life before. I didn't go into this business with an aim to be competitive. Needs must however.
So theres the physically hard work and the stress of trying to make sure the business earns money to keep everyones heads above water, I also try to ensure that I have a work life balance (I work to live, I don't live to work), this doesn't happen in busy periods. There are also the aspects of doing the paperwork and marketing when I get home, managing staff, cleaning, refreshing menus and answering customer queries (whatever time of day and night you guys decide to message us). This business is a constant. When I'm not at work, I think about work and when I'm not working I'm not getting paid. Although I have a great deal of support from family, friends, my boyfriend and staff at work at the end of the day the responsibility of making this work all lands on my shoulders. That is the reason I would say that this is the hardest job I have had.
I will now get down to the main purpose of this post. It is to say a massive thank you to everyone who has and does support me. Yes staff, friends family I tell you all the time so id like to use this post to say a massive thank you to all of my customers for supporting me.
To the regulars, the ones who come in every day and to the people who have only been once. John, Jenny and Richard, Walter and family, Sally and family, The Waterhouses, The Hoyles, Sheila, Norma and Don and Diane. Its dangerous making lists as you can miss people out, so just so you know I'm writing this quickly as I'm supposed to be getting ready to go to a pantomime.
To all those people who have recommended us to others and to those who have taken the time to go on social media to give us a review. Thank you.
No ones support goes unnoticed and it means so much to me. Without you lot Sally Shortcake would not be able to continue. Its been a difficult climate to work in this last year and things are highly unpredicatable.
All I'm saying here is a massive massive thank you for the last four years, have a happy new year, all the best for 2018 and make sure you keep coming in the shop! (Ha ha)
Lots of love