In The Spotlight With Sharon Olivero-Chapman, The Stottie Company
Tell Us About Your Role In The Business
The Stottie Company is an award winning coffee shop and kitchen concept. The word ‘stottie’ is synonymous with North East food lore and I wanted this to be part of our story. My role is Managing Director of the company. We currently have three locations; Stockton Castlegate Centre, Wynyard Business Park and recently added Makro Stockton.
My working life started off at the age of 18, when I flew off to be a nanny in America for 4 years where I also studied Childcare Management and Development. I then moved back to London and started my own Nanny Recruitment Agency. Families trusted my judgement. I realised I had a natural ability and experience at matching the right nanny with the right family. It proved very successful but also very stressful. I was young and naïve to business at the time. I decided to sell the company and was quickly approached by one of the aristocrat families I had done business with, to work as their private PA.
I absolutely loved this role. I travelled extensively around the globe over 4 very happy years with the family. This is where I met my husband, Dave. He was part of the family’s close protection security team. My career path then of course changed when we married and started a family.
How Did The Business Start?
After our daughter, Harriet was born we both realised that we wanted her to grow up with her extended family in the North East of England. When she was 6 months old we upped sticks and relocated here to Teesside. At this point, Dave’s work had taken him abroad for months at a time, but I had amazing support from my mother-in-law. I began to get twitchy about business again and wanted something I could get my teeth into. I started making buffets in my kitchen for corporate clients. My father is a chef and I’ve always been a big foodie, so this rather excited me. Before I knew it, it grew. So much so, that very quickly I realise I needed more space and help. My first location was based on Prince Regent Street in Stockton. We very quickly outgrew that small site, moving our catering facility to larger kitchens. This was a great move, as it allowed me to grow this side of the business. The rest as they say is history.
What Are The Biggest Challenges To Your Business?
Realising that you simply cannot do everything yourself – trust me I would if I could! You have to trust your team, let go and allow them to grow and be independent. It’s very difficult to do this, it really is a learning curve but I’ve cracked it and it’s the best thing I ever did! I am now surrounded by very a knowledgeable, ambitious and loyal team.
What Are Your Biggest Achievements For The Business?
Just being here.. getting this far.. building up our quintessentially British brand. We have also worked hard to turn the business into a franchise opportunity. This is where the question above about challenges fits right in. In order to prove our concept, we had to show that I personally am not required to be ‘in’ the business. That it’s not all about me anymore. Without this proof, a franchise business cannot roll out. I’m happy to say that we have achieved this which I am extremely proud of. There is lots of news to come about this too, which I am very excited about. Watch this space!
What Did You Want To Be When You Were At School?
I wanted to be teacher. A head teacher at that, I always wanted to be in charge! I suppose this was probably where the nannying came into being. I love children and guiding them to be the best they can possibly be.
What Was Your First Job?
It was at my local Woolworths in Cambridgeshire. I worked on the entertainments section every weekend and school holiday, selling CDs and became a supervisor at 16. Being a cashier was never enough for me even at that age!
What Job Would You Like To Have Other Than Your Own And Why?
I love doing what I do now, but ultimately I’d love to take our franchise concept to an international level, getting to that point where I can take a back seat in the day to day running of the company, for me to be in the position to help other businesses ‘ make it happen’ for them .. I suppose like a mentor.
What Do You Love Most About Working In The North East?
The fact that no one has ever questioned me about the ‘stottie’. Who do I think I am… a Southerner taking on the Northern Stottie? Everyone is always so supportive and generous with their time and advice. I love the laid back atmosphere and that everything still gets done. I appreciate the pace and that it’s nowhere near as frantic as London life, a much happier and easy going place for my daughter’s upbringing.
What Do You Love Most About Living In The North East?
What’s not to love? You have more money in your back pocket for a start. I was amazed that we could get a 5-bedroom house here for the same price as our 1-bedroom cottage down South. I often encourage people to bring their business to the North East, I love it here for both business and pleasure!
What Do You Do In Your Down Time Away From The Office?
Every spare minute we have centres around our daughter Harriet. She is 7 now and an amazing person in her own right. She loves to play tennis which we are roadies for, she plays 3-4 times a week, watch out Wimbledon!
What’s Your Number One Piece Of Advice For Anyone In Business Or Wanting To Start Up?
Always ask for help. I didn’t ask for help in my first business and I think that’s why the stress of it all got to me so much. Remember that successful people all need ongoing advice. You will never know everything.
Not content until she reached her goals. No matter how long or hard the journey of obstacles in her way, she always - one way or another got there, only to go on and create another. Life should be a never ending journey of goals you set yourself with the absolute intention to actually achieve - not dream. Believe you can do it and you will!
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If selected we will be in touch to interview.