How did the idea for your business come about?
Sitting in numerous classrooms as a teacher wondering how to make it better for the kids who find exams and traditional teaching methods difficult. I wanted to find another way of engaging with children and to put the spark in their eyes back. The aim is to offer vocational qualifications and food skills to children and help them get into work. Food which is one of our basic needs and supports our wellbeing and concentration, is very powerful. We will be cooking realistic food on a budget and making nutritionally balanced recipes to support vulnerable children. We will also be running paid cookery classes to help fund this.
I have been very interested in the Social enterprise format of a business and very pleased that I went down this route.
When was the company first established?
Maymessy CIC was established in November 2015 in preparation for launch. We have just launched last month after a move from London and a project to re-build a disused cow shed to turn it into the cookery school.
It’s early days yet but how is the business doing?
We have just had our first school group in which was great fun. We made raspberry flavoured meringues. We had a very funny time tipping whisked egg whites in a bowl over our heads. I have also had a very chatty and entertaining group of ladies in for a demo cooking session and lunch. We have regular yoga sessions each week and have had a meditation retreat already in one weekend.
What has been the biggest challenge in starting up?
We have had lots of challenges. I am a mum of twin girls so juggling working with no child care has been difficult.
My start up costs have been huge and so fundraising has been essential but time consuming. Re-building the disused cow shed has been an interesting experience while relocating from London.
What will make you stand out from your competitors?
Maymessy is unique. It is the only cookery school in Oxfordshire to offer cookery classes to vulnerable children and support them with food skills and education. Our location is stunning, set in rural South Oxfordshire with views over the Ridgeway. We have a purpose made building and the skills and qualifications the team at Maymessy have to offer are unrivalled. We have teachers, special needs support, counselling and life coaching and a food nutritionist as well as meditation and yoga which all bring a focused and calm vibe about the place.
What’s been your best business decision so far?
Attending free classes with mentor support through Oxford Business Support.
What does the future hold for Maymessy?
I am confident that Maymessy will go from strength to strength. I look forward to having lots of children onsite cooking and growing vegetables and feeling happy and confident about themselves. I hope to roll out Maymessy so that other local social enterprises and schools in the area can have the cookery facilities that we have here.
If you could help one start-up business with a single piece of advice, what would it be?
To ask for support and help from local people in the area and go for it!
Finally, what is your favourite biscuit?
Chocolate chip and hazelnut cookie.