Wednesday, 24 June 2020

The Life of a Start-Up During Lockdown - Skip & Chick [Quarantine Interview Series]

In the second of my mini quarantine interview series, I'm speaking to Cait - founder of Skip & Chick; a new style of healthy, meat-alternative sausages that is in its development stages. She discussed all things lockdown related and talked about the challenges she's faced during these strange times.

Hi Cait, how did you come up with this concept of meat-free sausages?

"I haven’t had any formal training but I’ve always loved experimenting with food - mostly trying to make healthier versions or alternatives which still taste good. When I went off to University at 18, I got really into healthy living and fitness and food is of course a big part of this. My first food-based product was a recipe book called ‘Rye Not’ which I published about 6 months ago, and this then inspired me to go on and doing something a bit bigger - creating a food product of my own! Skip & Chick sausages basically stemmed from my love of seafood, wanting to cut down on meat, but not feeling like the meat alternative sausages out there were that healthy or tasty. Lots are made from soy-protein or filled with ingredients you can’t pronounce, so I wanted to put something out there that was wholesome, tasty, nutritious, and a stepping stone between meat sausages and veggie sausages."

What impact has Coronavirus had on your start-up?

"So it’s definitely had an effect on our progress with development and getting things off the ground. Just before lockdown, I managed to find some government-funded resources which included a bootcamp for start-up food brands and a food innovation lab to help you get to a finalised product. Unfortunately because of lockdown, I haven’t been able to progress with these opportunities and they may not be available a later date due to Brexit (European Union Funded). As well as this, many talks and events for start-ups/ food businesses have been canceled, which would have been invaluable. Some have been switched into online webinars which is super helpful, however, they don’t quite have the same networking benefits etc. One thing we are trying to focus on is social media as everyone is spending much more time online and it’s a good time to grow brand awareness. However unfortunately for us, as we’re still developing the product, it’s not an area we can utilise fully until we have our finalised product people can get their hands on."

For someone who doesn't have an office building, using coworking spaces/coffee shops can be a nice change of scenery but unfortunately they've been closed during this time, so how have you remained focused with living and developing your brand under the same roof during lockdown?

"Usually it’s great to be able to get out and work in coffee shops or co-working spaces occasionally as working from home by yourself can definitely give you serious cabin fever. Costs can add up though, and as a start-up you’re obviously trying to spend every penny wisely, so I usually try and split the time between the two to stay sane.
Now not having the option to work from anywhere else and not having a sense of routine definitely makes it harder to work from home. It’s much harder to focus, get your head down and not get distracted by daily life. To combat this, we’ve turned our spare room into a bright and relaxing office space and I’ve invested in whiteboard wall planner to try and stay on track with my to-do list! It’s made such a difference actually and I’d recommend doing this for anyone who’s struggling to focus. You need a space for work that’s separate from your chill space. And lots of plants, plants are key!"

What do you miss the most about ‘normal life’ and what is going to be the first thing you do once the lockdown is lifted?

"Seeing friends and family, definitely! I think you need to have a balance between social life and work-life to be able to do your best work and be productive. We’re social creatures and not designed to be solitary - socialising can fuel you with energy and motivation. Other than that, I’m really looking forward to going out for some amazing food, (maybe a London food market to get some inspo for Skip & Chick), as well as some outdoor adventures! I love the outdoors, it fills me with curiosity and wonder and makes me feel like anything is possible."

What three songs have improved your lockdown experience?

Anything Ludovico Einaudi - I love working to this, always makes me feel focused.

Are there any movies, series or shows that you’ve started during the lockdown?

"Normal People - so good. Beautiful storytelling, incredible acting, relatable, I was hooked. Unstoppable - really inspiring documentary. I love anything about surfing / the sea. I love a good doc that helps you reset your perspective."

Have you started reading any books while in lockdown?

"I’m terrible with reading, I never make time for it, although I love the books that I do dip in and out of. I mostly read non-fiction. Books I’m reading at the moment are ‘Tribe of Mentors’ by Tim Ferris, ‘Unlimited Power’ by Tony Robbins and ‘A Book About Innocent’ written by the guys behind Innocent Smoothies and how they started. So many books I want to read, I wish I could just ingest the knowledge in an instant."

What have you found to be the weirdest thing you’ve found yourself doing and/or seen during this time?

"I actually don’t know! I do weird things on a daily basis ha. Such as… the other morning I reached up to stretch forgetting I had a cup of coffee in my hand and not thinking what that would mean - and poured the coffee all over my head. It wasn’t the way I was intending to wake myself up with coffee.

Other than that, I think the most memorable thing… not the weirdest… is seeing everyone on our street do the NHS clap for the first time. Such an overwhelming feeling and I feel like you don’t often get moments of unity like that."

Is there anything you have discovered about yourself during this time?

"I have a much better day when I get up early in the morning and I need to sleep more (I feel like a whole different person since regularly getting 7-8 hours sleep during lockdown)"

Just for fun - If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

"Definitely be able to fly! I love being in the sky (on a plane) looking down at the world, realising how small we are, gaining perspective. Day to day life it’s easy to forget we’re on this amazing planet, essentially a paradise in the scheme of things when you consider all else we know of in the Universe."

Finally, do you think life will ever return to normal or do you think this is going to change the way in which we interact forever?

"I mean lets get deep… what is normal. Normal is constantly changing. I don’t know if it will go back to exactly how it was before but times change so quickly anyway in ‘normal life’! So that’s ok. Look how quickly we’ve all adapted to lockdown. We’re very adaptable. However, I’m hoping we do get our freedom back. Freedom to be curious, to adventure, to create, to communicate, to socialise. I think that’s what we need to feel normal and hopefully we will get that in one way or another. I think these times will make us appreciate how much we need physical interaction with others and maybe further enforce the idea that communicating via our phones is not a substitute."

Thank you so much Cait for this honest and insightful look into your thoughts and experience throughout lockdown. If you'd like to follow Skip & Chick online then visit their Instagram page where they share food ideas as well as health & fitness suggestions; @SkipandChick. You can also pick up her Rye Not book from Amazon which makes a great gift for any ryvita lover!

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