Over a Brew with… Southpaw Coffee
This week we had the absolute pleasure of chatting to @southpawcoffeelondon co-owner Orlando. Having opened the store…
We had a great chat with Georgie (Head of Marketing and Customer Experience) and Frankie (Head Barista) of HomeWorkWorkspace. At HomeWork, they understand the challenges of working from home both professionally and personally. That’s why they’ve created an environment that gives you and your team the independence and freedom of working flexibly, whilst allowing you to work in a professional, highly serviced environment.
Not only this, but the cafes in the four sites really set HomeWork apart from other workspaces, it was great to delve into what it’s like working within a startup within that sphere, discussing the challenges but also the benefits of doing so. Enjoy!
Georgie: I am the Head of Marketing and Customer Experience at Homework, I basically sit in the central team and try to make HomeWork a big success.
Frankie: I basically try and do that but with coffee!
Georgie: I’ve been here since the beginning, so I was their first hire back in July 2019, just before we opened the first site in Putney.
Frankie: I’ve been here since March 2022, beforehand I was working mainly in the events industry in coffee. They were big-budget productions, it was lovely but it was exhausting and the work wasn’t always so regular.
Georgie: Definitely. HomeWork evolved from lots of people working in coffee shops in local areas where there weren’t a lot of co-working spaces for people available. Our founders, Claire and Sam came up with the idea of creating a hybrid of an office and cafe. It’s developed into a lot more than that, but if you haven’t been here before that would be the best way of describing it.
Speciality coffee was definitely something we were really passionate about at the beginning. I used to work at Rosslyn Coffee so when I joined HomeWork it was a completely new role. However, they wanted to bring coffee in and I had learnt a lot working with them about running a fast-paced coffee shop where they take everything with absolute detail. It was great because I then brought my knowledge base to HomeWork and started the cafe side of things at the Putney site.
Georgie: When I first started at HomeWork, they had already set up an agreement for a lease on a coffee machine but they hadn’t decided on what coffee they wanted to use yet and were unsure what to go with. So, with my connections with Kiss The Hippo and Origin, we managed to start using their products. It’s always been a part of our brand and something we want to be known for. There’s a big attention to detail on this.
It’s a cafe that’s open to everybody, whereas some other working spaces can be only for people who are using the space.
Georgie: I think so yeah, we’ve learnt a hell of a lot in the last few years. People’s requirements for the workspace have changed slightly as well. Before covid, I would say there were about 20% of people working from home and post there are about 90%. Pre-covid we had lots of small business owners, freelancers and individuals, that became our core demographic of customers. Once we opened our second store after Covid, we saw a much more diverse range of customers. More employees from bigger corporations and more SME style of businesses.
There have been lots of entrepreneurs who have started their careers after covid after realising they want to change their work style.
Frankie: That’s something that’s been reflected in the cafe as well, there have been a lot smaller individual suppliers in the marketplace. It’s nice as you get to work with smaller teams and more independent businesses.
Frankie: It’s still a bit of trial and error, it’s still evolving. I said this to someone a couple of days back, I actually tried to run away from coffee but it’s caught up with me again – having started in cafes and falling into various other industries it can look like my CV is a bit chaotic. However, I’ve seen this really come as an advantage to working here. I’ve found it really fruitful to see how other businesses operate and work, especially doing freelance work. But, I can also take away why certain processes don’t work, what needs improving and why. Ultimately, this helped me when choosing the right suppliers and how they can add to the brand and benefit us as well as them.
Georgie: It’s something we’re really passionate about, it’s important to us and we want to make sure their brand represents the same kind of values as us.
Georgie: Yep it is, it was self-funded by our owners, and then in the summer 2020 we started to think about raising money. Fortunately, we had some private investors come on board in October 2020 and are still working with them now.
It’s quite challenging working with a start-up but it’s also really exciting, we try and give everyone as much opportunity as we can. What’s really nice about being in this environment is that people can bring their own ideas and personalities to the table, to see what does work. You definitely have to move in a certain way with a startup and go with the flow, we’re starting to develop a lot more structure and the roles in the teams are becoming a lot more defined. But that’s part of the fun!
At times it can be quite overwhelming, but I can say for both of us at this point in our careers it’s amazing to have that exposure, to see how a business functions and operates. To be able to contribute to that along with the whole team is amazing. It’s a really unique place where we’re creating a community environment.
Georgie: We have networking events, a network at the end of each month. The idea of that is to bring people around the table and ask for help. It can be all sorts of different people from different industries, but it’s a nice opportunity to bring something to the table, to offer and give advice from all different fields. It creates a really nice community feel.
We also run a masterclass once a month, it’s generally around a theme that has been quite common around the HomeWork network. More often than not, it will be by someone who works in the HomeWork space, it’s cool because they can then show off their business and hopefully get some businesses interested in them. We’re also doing a couple of coffee tastings at the moment which has been really cool, there’s been a lot of interest around it as well.
Frankie: There are lots of people that are interested in it, but even people who aren’t as much and still attend – it’s a great space to get people out of their shells and really break down the processes in coffee. It brings people closer to what it’s all about – teaching people about the roasting processes, where the coffee comes from and sustainability practices that come with independent coffee. As someone like me, because I come from the coffee industry so heavily it’s so normal, but then when people ask what a coffee cherry is – it makes you realise there’s a lot people don’t know.
Georgie: So in Putney, the layout is quite small and the coffee bar isn’t set up for high volume, so we’re actually thinking of ripping it out and starting from fresh. We took learnings from that, but in Southfields, it was a clean slate so it was fun being able to contribute to that and have a bit more of an understanding of a more streamlined area.
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