We love brilliant food businesses, and they don't come much more brilliant than Les Deux Amies - purveyors of delicious crepes with a whopping 40 different options of toppings. They're our StartUp of the Week - let's find out more.
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Explain your business in thirty seconds or less
We are two friends, Caroline and Adeline, who have come to London from France, with a goal to create French specialty food by mixing locally-sourced ingredients from Britain and the French savoir-faire. In July 2014, our business was born. We catered and did several markets and festivals for two years before opening our Crepe Bar in the Boxpark Croydon.
More than being a French symbol, crepes give a free rein to creativity and the freedom to explore ideas as they offer infinite possibilities. We bet people can create a new combination everyday. It’s simple yet delicious!
The rules are easy: choose your base, buckwheat (naturally gluten-free) or white flour, and add as many toppings as you want! We offer a choice of forty ingredients. Some are homemade and the rest has been carefully chosen by us.
We are using responsible food producers for our ingredients, some are organics (flour, eggs, ham, …) if not, we use free range or fair trade sources. We use seasonal ingredients to minimise our impact on the environment.
Each ingredient and each product has its own story and we want to make sure that people know everything about what they’re eating. Also, we make all efforts to accommodate various dietary requirements. We offer gluten-free and vegan versions of our crepes. We also cater from times to times for corporate and private events, and customise our products based on the requirements.
2. Where are you based and why is it a good location for your business?
Our shop is based in Boxpark Croydon. This food complex has 34 traders selling only dining and drinks, and attracts a lot of footfall due to its diversity.
Croydon is currently undergoing an enormous transformation. It’s becoming a booming area where there are a lot of constructions and expansions. We saw the potential of this area and being a part of a group of independents businesses was a real opportunity for us. Being in the Boxpark means that we benefit from their comms and marketing, which helps people to find out about us.
3. How did you come up with the idea?
It was in July 2014. Both of our jobs weren’t fulfilling our needs anymore and the idea of opening our own business came naturally to us.
We knew we wanted to offer a staple of French cuisine and the idea of crepes came as we saw an opportunity in the London market. Our previous experiences abroad and the lack of places to find authentic French crepes helped convince us that we were onto a great idea.
4. What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?
When we applied for the Start Up loan we had just signed the contract with the Boxpark. Our business was a year and half old and we needed a working capital for the opening coming up. It’s been very helpful, and we also ran a successful crowdfunding campaign to raise additional capital.
5. How have you used it to grow your business?
We used the loan to build the permanent structure of the shop, which was an important part of our budget. We already had our crepe makers so we used our crowdfunding and personal funds to buy some equipment, do the communication of our brand, decorate the shop…
6. Who is your mentor and how have they helped you?
Our mentor is Luisa Sykes. She helped us with the financial approach of the financial plan. She’s been a moral and emotional support during the previous months of the opening. This period of time was really stressful for us, but she always believed in the brand and our project and kept assuring us that we had all the qualities and attributes for a successful business.
Prior to working with Luisa, our mentor was Jonathon Spanos. He is the one who introduced us to Virgin Start Up. He made us fill in our first business plan and helped us determine what the vision and goals would be for our brand.
7. Biggest achievement so far?
Running our own business and being independent is a dream come true, especially as women! Thanks to this adventure we are learning so much about ourselves and the working life.
Opening our first shop was a major achievement, but without a doubt our biggest achievement so far is our team. We are proud to say that we have created three jobs, including one in reinsertion from the charity Emmaüs, with who we’ve been working since the creation of our business.
We are now a team of five : two co-owners and three co-workers.
8. What’s next for your business?
We keep learning everyday and improving ourselves by creating and offering novelties, as well as bringing freshness to the shop all year round.
Now that we fill more confident about the position of our business on the market, we’d like to extend Les Deux Amies with a second shop. Maybe in 2017, who knows? We’re curious to see what the future holds…
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