Claire and Nick Hearn set up their vintage-inspired catering company Rose and Olive, which hosts pop-ups in and around Tunbridge Wells, in 2014. Here, Claire tells Eileen Leahy why she had to quit her day job and what it was like being invited to Number 10 as part of Small Business Saturday, which took place last weekend…
How long have you been in business?
We started trading in June 2014 so we’ve been in business now for two and a half years. The time has flown by and we have been honoured to have taken almost 200 bookings since we began.
What gave you the idea to launch your own company?
I love all things vintage and have a real soft spot for afternoon tea and my husband has a passion and talent for cooking so we decided to combine all this into a vintage-inspired catering business.
Tell us a little bit what Rose and Olive is all about?
We host beautiful vintage tea parties, nostalgic pop up tearooms and scrumptious supper clubs brought to clients at the venue of their choice. Operating on a mobile basis means we’ve been privileged to have catered at some amazing venues including the ITV studios in London and Lullingstone Castle in Eynsford. With our pretty vintage china, retro music playing from our gramophone and delicious homemade food we capture the elegance of a bygone era.
How did you come up with the name Rose and Olive?
Rose and Olive were my two tea-loving grandmothers who sadly never got a chance to be a part of what we do and so it seemed a fitting tribute to name our business in loving memory of them both.
Did you do it as a side line initially while you were still working in the police force?
When I started Rose and Olive I had already reduced my hours down to part-time and I spent my last few months in the police prepping for the launch of the business. But I just knew I wouldn’t be able to juggle the demands of being a police officer alongside getting the business off the ground. I took the leap and left the police just as we started trading in June 2014. My husband remained in the police for another year and in that time trained and qualified as a chef. He then came on board with the business full-time late last year.
What are the fundamental differences between doing your former job and running Rose and Olive?
Having the freedom to choose where and when we work is a big difference. Being a police officer is a challenging role on a number of levels so it’s nice to see a different side to life now.
Do you miss being a police officer?
In short no. I miss working with some of my old colleagues but we both relish the fact that we don’t have to work shifts anymore and that we are now building our own dream!
Who is your core market and how do people usually find out about you?
What we offer appeals to a wide variety of ages so we get booked for a lot of hen parties and also for larger occasions including wakes and weddings. Word of mouth recommendations, social media and Google are the main ways people find out about us. We have also linked up with various venues, hair and make-up stylists and dance teachers to offer our catering alongside their services.
You were recently invited to Number 10 as a guest. How did that come about?
We submitted a video about our business to Small Business Saturday and were honoured to be chosen as one of their 100 businesses to be profiled this year. This means the world to us as we took a huge leap in leaving our careers as police officers to run our own business and so to get that acknowledgement is really special.
Where are the majority of your events held?
We travel all over Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Essex, London and beyond! Our pop-up tearoom can be found at local events including the Penshurst Vintage and Antiques Fair held every Easter weekend and August Bank Holiday weekend. We also work with a number of local charities including Kent Wildlife Trust and Leonard Cheshire Disability and have done quite a few corporate events including ones for ITV and the BBC.
What’s your favourite thing about running your own business?
The satisfaction of seeing clients and the public enjoying the food and experience that we provide and knowing that we have helped to create wonderful memories with what we do.
What are your plans for the future?
We plan to expand the business next year by taking on staff as we have just won a catering franchise for a venue in Surrey. We also want to open our own vintage tearoom, it’s been our plan for a while now but as they say the best things come to those who wait!
For more information on Rose and Olive visit www.roseandolive.co.uk