MENUCLOSE
The Interview

From Maternity Nurse to Creative Catalyst with Jen from Kalm Kitchen

We talk cafés, catering and clean eating.

Jen is a woman who wears many hats. She is a Mum to three, a driving force behind a very successful catering company, owner of cafés and creative stylist.

Growing up in a creative household in a village in the Hampshire countryside, it was almost inevitable that Jen would find herself working with some of the world’s best-known brands on new product launches, pop-up shops and experiential marketing through her latest business, Kindred.

Having left her job as a maternity nurse in London, Jen embraced her creative side, and along with husband James (a trained chef) and took the leap into event catering. “We both felt there was a gap in the market for a creative caterer in the Home Counties. We started really small doing corporate work for a few clients. We had a contract with a bank that helped us find our feet, and in 2008 we did our first wedding. It was a mad time as our daughter was only 2 weeks old, but we both knew that this was the direction we wanted to take and this meant I could really start to flourish creatively and add value to the business. That year we did 5 weddings - we are now doing over 200 wedding a year.”

We joined Jen on a shoot at Millbridge Court, one of the many venues at which Kalm Kitchen caters. We found the room packed with florists, photographers and chefs and an array of delicious looking and smelling deserts and cakes, and at the heart of it all was Jen styling food and flowers on one of many food stalls set up.

“Personality is a big thing, if you like people, you can be honest and straightforward”

“My father is the real inspiration behind my love for styling and anything creative. I remember he used to go to Covent Garden Flower Market and bring home the most beautiful bunches of flowers for my Mum on a Friday night. It was then I knew I had a love for flowers, I probably wanted to be a florist at that point, but I don’t know how that led me to catering.”

So, what prompted you to look at branding/marketing?

“We started the business on a shoe string and we couldn’t afford to have branding or a website done, I truly believe that that set us in a place in the market that was not where we wanted to be and did not reflect the quality that we were delivering. If we had done this earlier on, we could have entered the market at a totally different level.”

What made you choose to work with Flourish?

“When we were at a stage when wanted to look at our branding we wanted to find someone who had the same energy and passion as we had. Personality is a big thing, if you like people, you can be honest and straightforward and that means you are always going to be best results.

Having rebranded we have now become a brand, whereas before we were simply a business. It has delivered the essence of who we are as a business and allows us to convey that through every aspect of what we do. We have the café and there are so many touch points that people interact with everyday that this is where things really come to life.

[Rebranding] is 100% the best decision we’ve made and the best financial investment we’ve made.

I would say that it is worth early investment; this is the only thing we regret is that we had invested in this earlier.”

Tell us, what’s next for Kalm Kitchen?

“We are developing relationships with all of our venues. We’ve got an exciting opportunity with a company on the south coast with multiple venues that is going to be big, its something a little different for us.

The café has taken a very different direction from where we started out. We have gone down a very wholesome, nourishing path and are responding to what our clientele want. We are looking to develop that further."

“I love Five Guys! Have you ever been?”

You create some delicious things that still fall into the clean eating or free-from category, how do you do it?

“People are opting much more for a clean eating lifestyle. I think that this is something that we do really well. People can still come in and get coffee and a cake but we are really interested in making thinks better for everyone. That said I love Five Guys! You guys [Flourish] are virtually opposite Five Guys, have you ever been?

We are opening a second location, which is really exciting. We are looking to open the doors in summer, I can’t say too much more as there are a few things that we still need to confirm.”

And, what’s next for you?

“Oh! I’m running the London Marathon, its good thing to focus on. I think it’s really good to show your kids that anything is possible, even if you hate running.

I’ve recently launched Kindred my styling business, I’ve been working with Nourish part of Breathe Studios, and I’m working with Sweaty Betty who are launching a new shop in Guildford – that is really cool.

I’ve worked with Anya Hindmarch and I’d love to be working with the likes of Innocent Drinks on new product launches, and I know that having the background I’ve got, and a great brand will really help me to do that.”