This month, we meet Kelly Widley of Artisan Catering – a small, local business based in Torbay
which she launched alongside Executive Chef, Jordan Hatfield.
A wedding and event catering company, Artisan Catering specialises in feasts, luxury picnics,
grazing tables and boxes, luxe platters, and creative catering.
Why and when did Artisan Catering come about?
Artisan Catering has developed through word of mouth. Over the years, we were approached by friends, then friends of friends, and it has evolved from there into a fully-fledged successful catering business.
We are still working with some great hospitality venues in and around Torbay, but we are immensely proud to pour the same energy into something that we can proudly call our own.
Can you tell us about you and your journey to date?
I started my career in hospitality working in hotels, bars, and restaurants, where I helped to plan corporate meetings and conferences in the private sector, along with wedding and social events in the public sector.
I went on to run restaurants which hosted their own events and larger outside catering functions. With this solid background in event planning, my passion, dedication, and enthusiasm for this area has never faded, and working alongside an exceptional chef has made it even more exciting.
How has your past experience shaped your career?
The first step I took in my wedding planner career was to get real, quality experience – this was essential for me.
I wanted to understand the behind the scenes processes, and to learn from experienced professionals before I set out on my own.
I worked for established companies in Torbay, learning the ropes of professional wedding and event planning and acting as a lead planner for couples, without having to worry too much about business ownership. I was able to get ample practice selling my services, marketing myself, refining my processes, designing, and executing weddings and events.
How did you develop your skills?
After planning events in my own time alongside work for a few years, I decided to invest in some professional training.
I knew that if I wanted to branch out independently in wedding and event planning, professional development would provide me with the skills necessary to do so. I chose to do a diploma in wedding and event planning, alongside workshops in wedding floristry.
I had no idea at the time how much of a positive impact it would have on my business.
While I loved honing my styling skills during the hands-on portions of the courses and workshops, the practical business lessons I learned kick-started my transition into freelance wedding and event planning.
I felt that I learned years of business lessons from industry experts within a short time, and was able to start creating a practical and realistic plan for the future. The combination of my experience, diploma, and workshops, has allowed me to feel confident that I have enough business acumen to be successful.
Wedding and event planning is not only a passion project, but also my new career. Meeting the incredibly talented Jordan, who has the most amazing work ethic, and whose skillset complements mine, sealed the deal.
We take pride in making our food from scratch, and our diverse menu offers something for every palate and appetite. Menus are produced with love and care from the best seasonal ingredients, and put together in a way that is simply sensational to the taste.
Between us and our highly experienced team of chefs and event professionals, we take a customer-centric and creative approach to every brief, while still honouring traditional hospitality values.
How did you plan to set up the business?
Going full-time with our wedding planning, event, and catering business will be a slow growing process – especially during a pandemic.
But slow is good, as it has allowed us to focus on what kind of business we want to be, post-COVID.
It is important to have savings to support myself and my family during this growth period. My husband and I saved as much as we could, and when I left running restaurants full-time, I developed my hospitality and social media consultancy in the transition – all while having a baby two years ago!
It has been an important step to making sure I could continue to invest in myself and our business in the early stages.
We are reinvesting our money into the business to allow it to grow. Mapping out our budget and saving up enough for 6 months of expenses is a good rule of thumb – and I would say the more, the better. But I had not planned for a pandemic!
How did it feel to transition from employee to small business owner?
Putting ourselves out there felt uncomfortable at first, as I am used to representing other businesses.
However, online networking, reaching out to connect with people I admire, and asking for support from former clients, has been imperative to our success in going full-time with the business. Almost everyone I have connected with has been overwhelmingly supportive and helpful.
How do you manage the stress of owning your own business?
Stepping out on my own without the security of a steady paycheck is hectic, scary, and difficult – especially during a pandemic – and at times it felt
impossible to stop and celebrate the little wins.
The stakes feel a lot higher, especially with a toddler, so my focus isn’t always on what is going well!
I did my best during the transition to find joy and to celebrate each step, whether small or large, so I could stay focused on why I was doing this in the first place. It’s easier when you have someone like Jordan to keep you cheerful and optimistic.
How do you stay motivated?
The journey to going full-time in our business won’t be easy or smooth, but it will be completely worth it… I hope!
Many planners and wedding industry professionals are incredibly passionate people. A couple’s wedding is quite likely the most emotionally significant day that they will have experienced so far, and we are responsible for bringing that vision to life, while ensuring they enjoy the process.
This is a huge responsibility, and keeping that in mind propels me forward and helps me stay focused on my ‘why’.
Whether you are planning to start part-time in addition to another job, are stepping out to pursue planning full-time, or are already established in your full-time planning career, remembering why you started in the first place makes the tough times easier and the good times so much sweeter!
When a couple welcomes me into their world and their wedding day, it is an unbelievable honour. The journey to doing what I love every day has been one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges of my professional life so far. I feel very grateful to be a part of such an exciting and stimulating industry.
Seeing people enjoying themselves, connecting, sharing an experience, and knowing that you and your team put this together and made it happen, makes all the hard work worthwhile, and that’s why I love working in events.
How was lockdown for you?
Lockdown gave me and Jordan time with our families that we cherished, and a chance to look at what we really wanted to do and where we wanted to take Artisan Catering in the future. In hospitality there’s rarely time to stop and reflect, so it was great to use the time creatively.
And although now is an unusual time to launch an outside catering business, we think the next couple of years for weddings and events will be huge, once we can host large gatherings again. Timing-wise, that works for us.
In the meantime, we have produced what we like to refer to as our ‘edible business card’ in the form of our Graze boxes – delivered food to elevate any occasion! And we think picnics are set to be huge in 2021, with many bookings already in the diary for our customers to look forward to. Even indoor picnics are now a thing!
What are you passionate about?
We are passionate about giving people the wedding or event of their dreams, and about our food philosophy, which is based around hand-crafted, fresh seasonal produce masterfully combined to delight the senses using the best quality ingredients from sustainable, cruelty-free, and palm oil-free sources.
I am also passionate about working with people – especially with people who I can serve and support. Early on in my career, I took a job at a hotel who did several weddings every week in a beautiful location, and I loved every minute of it. I knew then that I wanted to pursue this with everything I had, and to turn my part-time planning job into a full-time one.
Where can we find you and when?
We have some exciting pop-ups coming in 2021 when it’s safe to have them. Follow our social media pages to keep up to date with what we’re doing – @artisancateringdevon on Facebook and Instagram.
Social media is such a powerful tool for small independent businesses, now more than ever before, so please head over to our Facebook and Instagram pages and like and share our content if you like what you see!
QUAY Magazine Offer
We will add your logo and message to our Graze boxes for FREE until March, simply quote QUAY MAGAZINE on ordering!
Ideal for your Zoom office party, to say thank you to your team, clients, and suppliers, or to accompany your business card and make it really stand out!
Plus, FREE DELIVERY in the Torbay area throughout December. Just quote QUAY MAGAZINE!
To order contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.orgMinimum order 6 boxes.