GATHER AND GRAZE
Whilst working full time at Iris Worldwide, Freya is one of the youngest entrepreneurs. She is the founder of Gather and Graze, an artisan grazing company selling beautifully curated catering for social dinings and events.
Introduce yourself and what do you do?
I’m Freya, 23, and I founded Gather & Graze, an artisan grazing company.
Where are you from?
I’m originally from Manchester, but I currently live in London, where Gather & Graze is based.
Where did the idea for Gather and Graze come from?
I’m a massive foodie and have always loved Smörgåsbord style dining. Following an extended trip to Australia in 2017, I discovered the Grazing Board trend – I became hooked. I started making them for family and friends when I moved to London and realised there was a demand for more relaxed catering so decided to launch it as a company.
What was the first step in starting the business?
I think making a commitment to yourself that you’re actually doing it is vital, the quote “whether you think you can or you think you can’t you’re right” carries through to a lot of start-up problems.
“There’s a lot of hard work that goes in at the start before your business even goes live.
It took me about two months of working every weekend just to do things like build the website and sort insurance etc. so making sure it’s something you’re willing to sacrifice a lot of time and social plans for is key to even get it off the ground. “
- Freya Blount
Where did you go to get help for the business and financial advice?
Books, (and a lot of google searching)! Learning the ins and outs of tax and financing has been surprisingly interesting, although I did do Economics as a degree so I can imagine it’s not as appealing to everyone! There’s definitely a massive feeling of ‘winging it’ and I often find myself having to become an expert in something that feels way out of my depth, but the amount you learn is one of the things I love about running a business. There are so many resources out there and if there’s something I can’t get my head around I’ll reach out to a friend for whom I know it’s their bread and butter.
What kind of tricks and tips have you done to win new business and clients?
Working in an advertising agency I’ve needed no persuading on the power of marketing so I invest profit quite heavily back into this. I’m a massive networker too. I’ve been lucky that word of mouth has caused it to grow so fast, the nature of grazing tables means people naturally photograph them and share them on Instagram so I get a lot of work through there.
What has been the most difficult challenge in running the startup alongside working full time in advertising?
I think having to turn down opportunities is really tricky and I’ll work crazy hours to avoid doing so but ultimately there’s only so many hours in a day. I love both Gather & Graze and my day job, so I am strict with myself to not drop the ball with either. But when I’m going through a particularly busy time a work I’ll avoid doing too much admin and planning for Gather & Graze to ensure I get some time off. The nature of it means most orders are for evenings and weekends so it’s just like having a second job that you love. As long as you’re organised and keep on top of the admin, it works.
What is the vision you have for Gather and Graze?
I think grazing boards and tables will always be at the heart of the company, but I've definitely enjoyed the product side of Gather & Graze so that is something that I’d love to grow.
I initially started selling honeycomb after it became the food I was asked about the most by people that try the boards - if you haven’t tried cheese and honeycomb you’re missing out! - but since launching it I’ve found I love the end to end process of that side of the business. Sustainability is also something I really want to bake further into the business as it grows.
The positive trend for plastic free purchasing has been beneficial for the style of food that Gather & Graze offers as it reduces food waste and excessive packaging. However big or small your business, I think everyone has a responsibility to factor the environment into decisions even if that is at the sacrifice of a higher profit margin. Our Grazing boxes will soon be 100% compostable and our honey packaging is fully reusable, so it’s something that I always considered before launching something new.
What’s your morning routine like?
Mornings start at the flower market, it’s a business market which means a 5am start as it closes before normal trading hours but as difficult as it is, it really helps you maximise the day. If I have work that day I’ll schedule all calls for lunchtime or evening and will deliver the platter boxes I’ve prepared the night before during lunch. If I don’t have work then I’ll usually go straight from the flower market to the food market ready for a full day of prepping.
Favourite quote or motto on life?
There used to be a quote on the wall at school that read, “there’s no such thing as lazy, it’s just some dreams aren’t big enough to inspire us.” I loved it but never quite understood it, but now I think about it a lot.
Similarly to when you try and start a business purely to start one, rather than finding something you’re passionate about; when you’re feeling unmotivated I think it’s a good reminder not to give up, but make a plan for the business that makes you excited again.