REDUNDANCY can be a massive blow to your confidence, not to mention your career – but for Mechelle Clark, it was a springboard to start her own toastie business.
Last year, the 35-year-old passionate cook from Aberdeen started Melt – the city’s first shop serving toasties made from grilled cheese and haggis…and even mac and cheese.
Her “pipe dream” of launching her own business became a reality after a difficult year.
Working as a recruiter and training coordinator within the oil and gas industry for over a decade, she was made redundant twice in the course of just 15 months.
After attending up to 60 job interviews, the decision was made to create a job for herself and she took up her passion for cooking full time.
Mechelle told the Sun Online: “I went to many many job interviews and struggled.
“I was up against very experienced people worth a lot less money, so I applied for a start-up loan.
“It wasn’t until it was approved that it became clear to me that I would have to do this – and here we are.”
Since she set up the business last year, it has been going from strength to strength.
The passionate cook now employs six people to work at her shop and help out with catering for events.
She started the company with a loan from the government-backed Start-Up Loans Company, part of the British Business Bank, which offers 6 per cent fixed rate on borrowing up to £25,000.
In its first year the company made about £84,000 and a new contract would mean Melt would get another £60,000 to £80,000 annually next year.
For now, Mechelle said that she is still putting everything into her business and is mainly living off her husband’s wages.
“It’s been the steepest learning curve ever,” Michelle said.
“Summer has been challenging but as soon as kids have come back to school the figures went through the roof and I am confident next year we will already be in a much better position,” she added.
How to get a start-up business loan
IF you need financial support in setting up your business, you can get loans of up to £25,000 to help along the way.
- Virgin StartUP offers government-backed loans from £500 to £25,000 to help entrepreneurs launching or growing a business that’s under two-years-old in England or Scotland. It has a rate of 6 per cent interest.
- The Start-Up Loans Company, which lends government subsidised loans up to £25,000 at a rate of 6 per cent.
- The Princes Trust also offers loans, up to £5,000, at a rate of 6.2 per cent.
- You can also have a look at Business Finance Guide from British Business Bank for some useful tips on how to find the right funding for your business
So what’s it like to have a meal at Melt and who eats there?
A toastie from the shop is made using sourdough bread from an artisan bakery, three blends of special cheese, homemade bechamel sauce and locally sourced meat – these are all put together with a lot of care, experience and knowledge.
Prices start from £4 and go up to £6.80 for the Macaroni cheese with its own 10 hours slow-cooked pulled pork.
According to Mechelle, a lot of people might think that it’s fancy but their man customers are local workers.
“The bulk of our customers tend to be workies. You know office workers, tradespeople – people who were probably most critical of us when we started,” she added.
Mechelle was selected as one of the six Start Up Loans Company (SULCo) top success stories to act as Ambassadors to encourage more budding British business owners.
We caught up with her at an event hosted by Launch 22, a social enterprise in Shoreditch offering work space for fellow start-ups, where she and fellow entrepreneurs were celebrating their success.
The launch of the Ambassador programme comes as SULCo delivers over 50,000 loans to British start-ups, bringing the total it has lent so far to more than £345 million.
Keith Morgan, CEO of the British Business Bank, said the UK has a strong start-up culture and infrastructure, with access to finance and support through initiatives such as Start Up Loans.
He said: “What we hear from start-up businesses time and time again is the importance of self-belief – finding the inner drive and confidence to take that first step.
“Finance very often unlocks that potential and helps start-ups become scale-ups with the prospect of becoming the big businesses of tomorrow.”