Thursday, 9 June 2016

The Plot Thickens...

This blog has been months in the waiting.

A huge shift in circumstances has meant it has been pushed to the bottom of my priority list, amongst the many to-do lists of ‘hunt for job,’ ‘find a house’ and ‘sort out life’.

For those of you who don’t know, my most recent employer Gareth, has decided to close the doors of Irie's Caribbean restaurant. A well-loved establishment that fell victim to the bar and restaurant industry and the tough nature of business in Aberystwyth. If you want to read more about the future of Irie himself, head on over to his blog here.

After a few days of being utterly terrified that I wouldn't be able to feed myself, I took a walk to the beach and had a chat with my good friend Heather. She was so excited when she realised I’d finally have some time to focus on myself and the things I want to do. Her enthusiasm infected me and I was suddenly so positive. Finally, this is a bit of an opportunity to focus on the right path. A lot of pent up stress is slowly fading away and I finally have a chance to take a step away from working towards someone else’s dream.

My house contract is also up at the end of this month, which meant looking for a house and a job. For a while, I was in a bit of a Catch 22, never wanting to commit to such a demanding job that means having no weekends (or energy) to build my own business. Looking around flats with no storage space and expensive rents was starting to take its toll on me; so during a recent visit back to South Wales, I decided that I'm going to take the plunge and finally leave the Aber bubble that I've fallen entirely in love with.
I'm moving back to my home town of Risca: To get my feet back on the ground, find a decent job and not have to worry about my savings shrivelling into extortionate rents. It’s about time I went back to look after the people that have looked after me for so long.
As business is going at the moment, it makes more economical sense for me to commute (the beauty of a mobile bar) every so often, than to live in a place that sucks the savings from my very soul.
South Wales has so many more opportunities for food festivals and the like which supports and helps the growth of local, particularly pop-up businesses. Being close to Cardiff, Newport & Bristol will be perfect over the summer and I'm excited to see what the future has in store.

But that doesn't mean that I won’t be in Aberystwyth all the time. I still want to run events and keep a strong connection with the town that stole my heart. And with the amount of incredible people that I've met here, I don’t think it’ll be difficult to keep in touch!

The next jobs on my list are marketing this business. Getting people to know about The Wonder Bar. Pushing it into your faces until you’re all fed up of hearing about it.

My first marketing step was a wedding fair back at the beginning of the year. An old colleague and friend, Kerry Ferguson - who’s becoming quite the dab hand at setting up businesses (and helping others do the same) - held a Wedding Showcase at the Gwesty’r Marine Hotel.




I was nestled amongst some of the fantastic array of stalls, where I met very many lovely people – brides, grooms and other local businesses. A chance to network and get my name out there.



I also set up a Crowdfunder page for start up business costs. In a rush before my birthday in December, I set up the page to give family and friends a chance to help me with costs, rather than buy me Christmas/birthday presents. A December birthday is often a curse and I feel if I had set up the page at some other point of the year, it wouldn't have been such a strain on people’s wallets. Christmas is an expensive time, so I understand that the target wasn't met. I definitely should have pushed it more and really made the most out of the project, but we live and learn.

However, it still raised £215! I’ve said it a million times before – but THANK YOU so much to those who pledged! It means the world that people believe in me enough to part with their hard earned money and I can’t fully express into words how grateful I am - boozy chocolate would have to do! In return for people’s generosity, I handmade some Irish Cream & Kahlua truffles. OK, OK, it was meant to be fudge… but as it didn't set, I coated them in chocolate, making them look and taste far posher than I imagined. Hurray! And I was told they were quite delicious too. I shall be sticking to my day job though, I am definitely no chocolatier...





Since I started writing this blog months ago, I was approached with a steady job to keep me going and build connections before I depart. The Castle Hotel has provided me with a wonderful network of people and a few hours a week to keep the steady saving going! The hold of Aberystwyth is strong and though my heart is telling me to stay, my head knows that further opportunities will arise if I venture further afield.

Through Careers Wales (a highly recommended service for anyone looking to start a business!) I was directed towards ReAct funding. A Welsh government funded resource for those who have been made redundant. The funding provides training to develop skills necessary to return to work. Through this scheme, I will be doing my BIIAB Level 2 Award for Door Supervisors, in preparation for gaining my SIA licence (those blue badges that bouncers wear!) Another useful little skill to prepare me for putting on my own events.

You see, what I've learnt in the last 6 months is that there are many people who like the idea of a mobile bar, but excuses to hire one are few and far between. I need to seek out the food and drink festivals, learn to tackle social media and put on a few parties myself!

And so I'll end this long post with the details of The Wonder Bar's next appearance:

Alfie-Fest
Alfie's Beer Bus is bringing the party to The Printhaus in Cardiff. On the 2nd July, we'll be celebrating micro-brewed beer, delicious street food and live art all topped off with a delightful soundtrack of local and lovely music.
                           

As Alfie specalises in #Microbrewedawesomeness, we will be there with a range of tasty and unusual cocktails and mocktails to satisfy the needs of those who like something a bit sweeter or a bit weaker than beer! #BeerVsCocktails

I'll finally sign off with a wish: That those who remain in Aberystwyth will party with me until the end.
And be here when I shall return!

And to those spread across the rest of the country....
Keep your ears open... We may be coming to a venue near you...

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