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Four inspiring entrepreneurs who started a business from the kitchen table
We know the kitchen is much more than just a room to cook in.
It’s where family memories are made. From magical moments like spending rainy days with little ones attempting craft projects at the kitchen table, to unwinding with a glass of wine after a busy day at work. And for some people, it’s also the place where dream careers finally become a reality.
Paul Lindley, Ella’s Kitchen
Paul Lindley was working for Nickelodeon when his baby daughter’s fussy eating habits helped him spot a gap in the market for a brightly packaged, totally organic and health-conscious baby food brand.
Paul began testing and refining original recipes from his own kitchen, and after just under two years, he got his big break when Sainsbury’s agreed to trial his product. Today, the company sells its organic baby food in more than 40 countries, with an annual turnover of over 50 million pounds.
Julie Deane, Cambridge Satchel Co.
Julie Deane was determined to start a business in order to raise tuition fees to send her daughter to a new school, after finding out she had been targeted by bullies. Her idea to revive retro satchel style bags proved to be a stroke of genius, propelling the company from a solo business run from Julie’s kitchen table to a multi-million-pound enterprise, with celebrity customers including Taylor Swift and Zooey Deschanel.
Levi Roots, Reggae Reggae
Levi Roots shot to fame thanks to an appearance on Dragons’ Den, capturing the nation’s attention with his catchy song, charismatic personality and secret sauce recipe. While Reggae Reggae sauce was initially bottled at Levi’s own kitchen table, today it’s a household name stocked in supermarkets and restaurants across the UK, plus there’s even a Reggae Reggae cookbook!
Stacey Dennis, Love Layla Designs
Being made redundant may not seem like the start of a brilliant career, but for Stacey Dennis losing her job gave her the opportunity to sit down at her kitchen table and turn her graphic design skills into an international greeting card business. In fact, just two years after launching Love Layla Designs, named after Stacey’s daughter, the company had already achieved a turnover of over one million pounds.
Have you experienced your own life-changing inspirational moment in the kitchen? Then share it with us here for the chance to win a brand new Magnet Kitchen worth up to £15,000.
Magnet interviews leading neuroscientist Dr Jack Lewis
Why do different sensory stimulants affect people in different ways?
Everyone’s brain has experienced different things, so as people progress though their life from childhood to adulthood the brain wires itself together according to their experiences. Things that are experienced frequently have a bigger influence than those that are experienced infrequently. Everyone’s batch of emotional sensory experiences are different and it is these that have the most power in forming the way our brain wires up, and therefore responds to things in the outside world. This is why everyone responds differently, because the type of music that evokes memories of my childhood will be very different from the type of music that evokes memories of your childhood.
It is the same with smells, textures and all of our senses: we have unique experiences of the world and of our sensory experiences.
By the time we reach adulthood we have experienced different things a different number of times and these memories evoke different sensory experiences from person to person.
Why does the home evoke such a strong sensory experience?
The home is the place where so many of our memories are experienced. It is the place where we feel safe and secure, where we drop our guard. In the living room for example, you’ve got lots of strong visual and acoustic stimuli coming out of your TV. Your radio or sound system is a device that allows you to select and thereby develop a taste for different types of programmes and music.
A lot of our senses are stimulated in the home, it is the place where we kick off our shoes and walk around barefoot, awakening our touch senses. The kitchen is a key room where everything is simultaneously stimulated – especially smell and taste.
How can you introduce sensory stimulants into the home to improve your wellbeing?
Well, a lot of the sensory stimulants that improve wellbeing tend to be related to the natural world but our homes tend to insulate us from this world. So to improve your well-being it’s a good idea to do things like introducing aromas into the home, such as fresh flowers in a vase. Some people do it and some don’t, however the smell of nature can be key in improving your mood. Often the best thing you can do is get out of the house altogether and go for a walk around the park or the countryside whenever possible. If you are trying to recreate these natural experiences in the home then flowers are a good option as well as pieces of art or music.
The one thing about visual art is that quite often you only really notice it for the first few weeks after you have put it up, so you should trick your senses by moving these pieces around or by having a different set of images that you rotate around your home. Doing this is in effect like curating your own art show in order to keep your brain on its toes because you are giving it novel experiences on a more regular basis. Don’t just hang up a painting and leave it there for decades – mix it up to encourage and stimulate your senses.
Why is the kitchen the perfect place to awaken your senses?
All of the senses are stimulated simultaneously in the kitchen. You have the sight of food, the smells, the aromas coming in through your nostrils, and the taste when you eat something. Eating food is very much about the tactile experience of feeling the textures in your mouth, this is a huge part of what we almost colloquially call the sense of taste. Strictly speaking taste is just the senses that come in through the tongue, and there’s only 5 or maybe 6, some would argue, possible experiences that come in just though the tongue, so the sense of smell and touch inside the mouth is vastly underrated. I did an experiment the other day on my TV series where we blindfolded people, robbing them of their sense of vision as well as their sense of smell, and then gave them a raw onion to eat (also asking them to use a glove so they couldn’t feel the onion). They thought it was an apple, until we took the peg off their nose. Even when we only robbed them of their sense of vision they still couldn’t tell what it was, which shows the power that vision has in dominating our experience of taste. When you are hungry, you eat, you feel pleasure. Hunger was invented, biologically speaking to encourage us to seek out food to nourish us and give us energy to survive. Eating when we are hungry invariably gives us a sense of pleasure and as the kitchen is the place where we experience this time and time again, we have positive associations with this – hence the parties in the kitchen!
What’s the one thing everyone should have in their kitchen to stimulate their senses?
That’s an interesting one, I think a brilliant idea is spices. Spices and herbs. Although it’s not everyone’s cup of tea to have a spice rack, you don’t always have to use it in your cooking. Leaving the lid off one of the jars from time to time is a great way of evoking your senses through scent, and often these aromas can jolt memories of your childhood.
Usually when our memories are jolted, they come from periods of life called the reminiscent bump which occurs between the age of 15-30. The sense of smell is linked to this because it’s plugged directly into the limbic system, the emotional memory part of the brain, rather than being re-routed through other brain areas first, as with the other senses. This means that it’s very powerful in evoking memories of childhood before the age of 10, and there’s no other sense that can stimulate it in quite the same way.
Many would also suggest freshly ground coffee, to actually grind your own beans, so coffee lovers might wish to do that to evoke their sense of smell. There’s something about actually turning the handle of an old fashioned coffee mill, where you can feel the beans crunching and the aromas are always much more powerful when it’s freshly ground, so there you go - two for the price of one!
Caroline Cook, Freelance editor & stylistAstral Blue“There’s something really special about choosing a kitchen; it’s important to reflect your personality and your lifestyle. Astral Blue is the one for me as it combines my love of urban colour with sleek ordered materials and yet has all the personality to create a family friendly living space.
Caroline Cook, Freelance editor & stylist
“There’s something really special about choosing a kitchen; it’s important to reflect your personality and your lifestyle. Astral Blue is the one for me as it combines my love of urban colour with sleek ordered materials and yet has all the personality to create a family friendly living space. It seems to effortlessly marry practical day-to-day activity with open-plan living, making it easy to shamelessly merge rustic wooden accessories with crystal chandeliers and get away with breaking any and every style rule.
“The steel blue high gloss is a gorgeous colour – the finish reminds me of a beautiful motor car but with the warmth of platinum which reflects light and maximises space. I love to combine surprising elements when designing a room, especially colour and material and Astral makes this easy: It looks equally fabulous teamed with stainless steel, white Corian or dark lounge-style walnut. Try designing yours with more than one work surface and add your own element of surprise with open shelving in a bright colour such as red or turquoise. I am going that extra mile by adding a run of four Astral blue wall cupboards in my lounge to create a wall hung media unit, topped with a dark walnut work surface. Or do I go mad and wrap the whole thing in white Corian?”
Creating a kitchen where the inside reflects the beautiful garden space outside is made easier when you use French windows or patio doors.
And its bang on trend right now.
Not only does it give you new access to your garden on lovely summer days but it also allows floods of natural light into the room – highlighting the best aspects of your culinary space and literally shining a light on some of the kitchen’s most unique features.
It is crucial that you get the feel of the doors right though - for homes with a traditional country garden it is essential that the kitchen emulates the country feel, for example.
Soft timber or Shaker designs, such as Magnet’s Charleston Bone, look great when coupled with vivacious rural gardens.
Likewise, for modern, minimalist gardens - choose a kitchen to match.
Taking an accent colour from the kitchen and using it as a theme in your French windows also helps to create a unified space.
You can continue the theme outside in your garden too - a stone or tiled floor with under-floor heating will keep the kitchen warm during winter and keep the room cool during the summer. Use a similar stone floor outside for a stunning, contemporary look.
Alternatively, choose a wooden floor and use a similar wood for decking outside to create a subtle transition from the kitchen to the garden.
When choosing a position for the patio doors ensure that there is clear, unobstructed view from the kitchen to the garden.
Avoid installing islands or units in front of patio doors as these will obstruct movement in and out of the kitchen. However a unit or table close to the patio doors provides the perfect place to serve food from when entertaining outdoors.
And most importantly, it looks great.
Imagine that amazing aroma from a selection of fresh herbs growing on your own kitchen window sill – sprigs of mint always at hand, basil leaves when you need them, and that incredible spicy freshness of young coriander leaves - like nature’s very own room freshener.
If it is good enough for super-chef Jamie Oliver then it is certainly something we can get on board with.
For inspiration check out the Living Larder Herb Garden – not only does it look the part on any kitchen window sill, it is perfect for growing herbs on your balcony or patio too. Being at worktop height means that there’s no bending so effort in looking after your herb garden is minimal and garden pests can’t help themselves to your goodies either.
Or there’s these lovely kitchen herb pots from www.notonthehighstreet.com - which would look laid back and lovely on any kitchen surface.
The thing is you don’t have to spend a fortune to achieve both the aroma and the look. You can literally use almost anything to house your herb garden – old coffee and tea container, vintage produce tins – pretty much anything that is lying around unused and looks interesting or quirky will provide a great herb home as well as giving your kitchen a quirky new focal point.
Visitors to the Miele booth at the recent Architectural Digest Home Design Show were treated to a glimpse into the ultimate green kitchen, complete with a centre island-style herb table and lush vertical gardens. Created by New Jersey-based EcoWalls, the green accoutrements not only added flair to the booth, they also demonstrated how planted surfaces can be implemented into an everyday home. The vegetated walls and herb garden also acted as the perfect complement to Miele's newest line of energy-efficient refrigerators, ovens and wine coolers.
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