A Vegan Delight – Maxine Cooks

Petit Miracle Hub Entrepreneur Interview

Meet Maxine from Maxine Cooks

What is your background?
I have always been a vegetarian cook. I started off working as a KP in Portobello Road Market and I just worked my way up. I have also worked for Planet Organic and helped to open up their kitchens. After that, I went on maternity leave and I have now started my own business!

Tell us about your business?
I started my business about two years ago in November 2015. I run a vegetarian catering business called Maxine Cooks. I try to do most of my food that is free from. That’s basically free from eggs, nuts, dairy, sugar. It is good for everyone and anyone. I value the fact that my food is nutritious, delicious and healthy. I care a lot about leading a healthy lifestyle and I try to put this message across to my customers because it is really important to have a healthy lifestyle now while you’re young so that you won’t feel those aches and pains when your older.

Where did the idea for your business come from?
Well, I have always wanted to do something like this. After I finished my maternity leave, I had a little think about what I could do next. I didn’t really want to go back to my old job so I thought well, it was time for me to start my own business so here I am!

What is the most challenging thing about running your own company?
Being organised and having a clear head is key if you work in a kitchen by yourself. But I would say the most challenging thing, for me, is the marketing side of things. Being a start up business and having limited experience with marketing. Because you are new, people are basically going to take a chance on you compared with the other competitors that are out there already. That is the thing that is quite frightening. To get out there and do that and prove that to others.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
The advice I would give to other entrepreneurs is that before you go in their and start your own business. Research, research, research, whatever it is that you want to do, go out there and check out your competitors and check out if it is something that is needed and is what people want and see how others are doing it and how you can do it better. Why would people want to come to you over someone else? That is the question you need to ask yourself.

How has working with Elisicia and Petit Miracle hub helped you?
They are very friendly and warm. The team have lots of great ideas and really want to help you out with your business. They send out emails and suggest links for you to check out. This is extremely useful as they sometimes think of things that you would not have thought about otherwise. The one day seminars they offer are also really good to go on!

In 5 years time…
I want to be set with my own cafes dotted around the place – everywhere across London. And a couple in Nottingham because that’s where I am from!

To find out more information about Maxine Cooks, please visit www.maxinecooks.com or go visit the Old Laundry Yard @ Shepherd’s Bush Market where you can Maxine Cooks every day Mon-Sat 9-6!

Pay what you want – what the h*ll is that?

“The customer chooses the price of our furniture?? You’ve got to be kidding me.”  Those were my exact words when some clever marketing interns made the suggestion. Not only did this sound like a bad idea I had no clue what it really meant.

It is unusual for the price of a product to be placed in the consumers hands. And let’s be honest, I was worried people would suggest £1 for an item we would normally charge £150. But, apparently I have become cynical in my old age. While that may be true, the more I listened to the rationale the more I understood. Placing the control in the customers hands meant that they could become benefactors (talk about good karma). And, given the chance, people will pay a fair price for goods and services they think have value, particularly if there is a social outcome.

You may not know that our furniture is used as an engagement tool to teach restoration skills to long-term unemployed people or people who have experienced homelessness.  You may only know that we produce high quality, upcycled furniture.  And that’s ok, in fact, we like being known for producing a quality product.  But there is considerable value in our hand-restored furniture which goes far beyond the value of, say, the amount of storage a chest of drawers offers, or, the quality of dove tail joints on a drawer.  In fact, the value often goes unseen. The real value of our work is the people behind the product, the people who’ve been marginalised by society and want to improve their life chances.

The people of Petit….

I want to introduce you to Junior, a long-term volunteer at Petit Miracles. When Junior came for work experience he was rather unmotivated, but dearly wanted gainful employment. Since his time with us, he has grown his confidence, employability skills and restoration skills. You can read more about Junior here: https://www.petitmiracles.org.uk/humans-petit-junior/

So, how does one place a monetary value on confidence and employability?  Well, that will be relative to each person, but, to help you out, we have given you some suggestions for what your money can do at Petit;

We will utilise a base cost price which will just cover the cost of the materials + the time of the renovation.  And then leave it up to you to decide what in addition, you would like to pay.  Here are is some guidance:

  • An additional £500 will provide industry training: helping our volunteers become more employable
  • An additional £250 will provide workshop materials for one month: freeing money to spend on direct volunteer benefit
  • An additional £100 will upgrade our workshop tools: continuing to produce quality finishes on the furniture
  • An additional £30 will provide volunteers with PPE equipment: helping to keep volunteers safe
  • An additional £20 will provide basic materials such as sand paper and brush cleaner: freeing money to spend on direct volunteer benefit
  • An additional £10 will help the charity provide travel and lunch expenses for those volunteers who do not have the money to travel to the workshop

Pay What You Want Mission Statement ……

You may be thinking the people at Petit Miracles are quite clever for thinking of such an innovative and clever pricing strategy.  But, you must know there is nothing new under the sun. This kind of pricing is centuries old.  I want to share something I found on-line when researching pay what you want pricing – David Charles, pay what you want mission statement:

Once upon a time, far back in the mists of time – and, more literally, in the hill mists of Guilin – I heard a travellers’ tale about a wise old Chinese doctor. This antiquated physician, they said, would sit cross-legged at the entrance to his modest wooden hut, high up in the mountains, chewing on the end of a long pipe, twisting his long moustaches and waiting for the sick and the dying and the pilgrim seekers to make the rugged ascent to his clinic.

He’d listen to their ailments, lay his hands on their brow, pick rare Chinese herbs from dusty bottles on the shelves and brew some concoction on a small brazier above an open fire. At the end of the consultation, this wise old doctor would hand the patient a glass vial containing some esoteric unction or tincture that would cure their ills.

The grateful recipient would look up expectantly: “How much do I owe you?” The doctor, returning to his pipe and moustaches, would simply smile a crooked smile and raise his palms to the heavens: “Pay whatever the cure is worth.”

So, pay what you think is the value of our work. It’s in your hands.

 

Guest Blog Post by Annalise Winter

Fun Upcycling Ideas to Redecorate Your Home

Sometimes it’s hard to part ways with your old things, especially if they hold sentimental value. But just like all other objects, they get worn out over time and begin to lose their purpose.

Throwing them out straight away might be a hard thing to do, so why not repurpose them into something new? Albeit not exactly like the original, you still get to keep your stuff and restore their usefulness in the process.

In a previous post, one of our upcycling workshop participants shared her experience and remarked how lovely the session was. During the activity, they transformed old oak chairs for our Petit Miracles shop. The article showed that anyone can do upcycling and all it takes is the willingness as well as dedication towards a project.

So let’s check out fun ideas for redecorating your home. Most of these are simple enough to follow so you don’t have to worry about needing advance techniques and skills just to complete a project.

Old lampshade frames can be turned into a coffee table. Use them as the base and simply attach a wooden block for a unique minimalist piece. You can either remove the shade sheets or retain them for a quirkier look.

Two sturdy upcycled lamp shades plus salvaged butcher block add up to one stylish, minimalist coffee table in the living room of this Texas home.

(image credit: Country Living)
http://clv.h-cdn.co/assets/cm/15/09/480×601/54eb7537181c0_-_04-salvage-chic-living-room-0214-s2.jpg

How about taking a piece of your old barn with you in your bedroom? Memories from your childhood can be stirred up through a framed old barn door that can serve as both decor and a nostalgic reminder.

(image credit: HGTV)
http://hgtvhome.sndimg.com/content/dam/images/hgtv/fullset/2010/11/29/0/original_Brian-Flynn-bedroom-repurposed-art-beauty_s3x4.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.966.1288.jpeg

Since it’s almost time for ‘Happy Holidays!’ once again, objects that will add to the festive cheer are perfect to complement your Christmas decor. First off, a worn-out, unusable globe can be cut in half and turned into a fruit holder as a table display to give the impression that you enjoy traveling the world.

(image credit: Better Homes and Gardens)
http://images.meredith.com/content/dam/bhg/Images/2009/01/101203726.jpg.rendition.largest.jpg

Those paper bags can be morphed into fruit baskets as well. Cut them into strips and with some weaving skills and glue, you can fashion them into rustic-style baskets.

(image credit: Pop Sugar)
https://media1.popsugar-assets.com/files/thumbor/GXD1FyQ84vYSrc6mi4IML2ue8CI/fit-in/550×550/filters:format_auto-!!-:strip_icc-!!-/2013/07/17/952/n/1922441/5048beebdebe3a25_P1160481.jpg

Furthermore, vintage magazines and old fabrics are great for making ornaments to hang on your Christmas tree or your walls. Cut out an image of Santa or Rudolph and stick it on a cardstock. Trim the edges and fix a string to the back for hanging.

For old fabrics, cut two small identical pieces of your desired shape such as a star or a chestnut. Put some stuffing between the pieces and sew them together. Attach a string at the back as well for hanging.

Sweet Paul Magazine DIY Decorations

(image credit: Tootsa)
https://www.tootsa.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Screen-shot-2014-12-02-at-11.40.22-1024×367.png

These are just some ideas for upcycling old things into repurposed decor. There are literally hundreds more you can do with all sorts of unused stuff. Just let your imagination and creativity run free.

Do you have your own projects that you want to share with us? Leave them in our comments section below.

Written by Annalise Winter
Exclusive for petitmiracles.org.uk