It might surprise you that it’s taken over 5 years to launch The Host’s Pantry.
We’d love to be able to say that we had a brilliant idea and that we decided to run with it straight away, but life isn’t always plain sailing - however with hindsight we are so glad that we have had the last 5 years or so to allow our little seedling to grow and flourish into the beautiful flower that she has turned out to be.
We want to share with you how this all came about. Hopefully it’ll give you a little bit more insight into not just us and our vision for business, but also some reassurance in this chaotic world that if you believe in something enough, the right opportunity will present itself at the right time - but hopefully not during another pandemic!
One is quite enough, I think.
Having said that, without this pandemic, we might never have taken the plunge to get The Host’s Pantry up and running. It’s been 5 years in the making: 5 years of this wonderful, creative, social idea that allows friends, families, couples to celebrate each other going around and around in Scott’s head; 4 years since he first shared the idea with me.
If you know us personally you know that we love to socialise, especially with food and drink. There have been many (I mean many) occasions where I have overheard Scott excitedly discussing his dreams for The Host’s Pantry with friends and family: conversations and confidence have been fuelled by copious amount of free-flowing wine (or beer, or Guinness, or champagne, or whisky, or rum – you get the idea!).
We will be forever grateful to friends and family who, over the last 5 years, have always been so supportive and encouraging when debating the possibilities of what could be – those conversations have always spurred us on to believe that we might just be on to something, that our vision could one day become a reality.
Just over two years ago in 2018, we tried to launch the business. Cautiously, we created an Instagram account. We felt proud and wanted to go for it. Hours passed at the kitchen table as we brainstormed ideas, designed logos, considered concepts and logistics and recipes – you name it, we spoke about it, yet unfortunately nothing ever progressed despite all of the talking that we did about it.
The reality was that our lives got in the way. We were both working more than full time jobs. I was working 3 out of 4 weekends and Scott worked a 50-60 hour week – we didn’t really stand a chance in developing The Host’s Pantry in to what we knew it could be. We wanted to do it justice and to do it right, which we hope you can see and feel through our social media, our website, our passion but most importantly through our recipes and the events that you can host yourself.
Fast forward to January 2020 and in a twisted way, I suppose we have COVID to thank for giving us the push that we needed. A friend who kindly offered to mock up a logo for us, free of charge (thanks, Tom!).
I had absolutely no idea that this was happening until Scott said, ‘Look what Tom has done.’ It was brilliant to see an actual logo, professionally designed as opposed to the attempts we had made the two years before, and so exciting, but the actual purpose for it was a bit lost on me, at least until Scott unveiled the next part of his idea - ‘We’re going to give him a box as a thank you.’
At this point it had been about 6 months or so since our last serious conversation about The Host’s Pantry. We had no recipes, no menus, no hosting guides and no boxes. Essentially, nothing needed to fulfil Scott’s offer. I have to say I was hesitant (to put it lightly). I remember laughing and saying, ‘What? Really? No?’ For about an hour I doubted if we could do it and how we would do it but Scott, who is unshakeable said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ve got this,’ and as always, I trusted him.
Scott’s passion has always been food, drink pairings and hosting and he pulled together a menu. First, we needed to find the best quality ingredients for the box so we went to the market (which is where most of our amazing suppliers are based) so that we could start making the dishes, writing the recipes and guides, and taking pictures of the process to host them through their evening.
We didn’t have long to get it all ready but we managed it, just! Once Scott and I were happy, we re-checked everything, wrapped all of the necessary ingredients and guides up and put them in to a recyclable cardboard box and delivered it to their doorstep.
And then we waited.
It felt like DAYS! Scott and I aren’t parents (yet), but we like to think that this is what it would feel like waiting for news of a baby to be born. We didn’t have to wait long - it was the next evening when we heard from them. Both of our stomachs flipped when our phones lit up to show a new Whatsapp group message notification…
THEY LOVED IT.
We were over the moon and so thrilled; they proceeded to send us pictures and comments and I don’t think Scott and I stopped smiling for the next 24 hours - the concept had worked, okay it was only tested by one couple, but it worked! We will always be so grateful to you, Tom and Lucy, for your support and belief in what we were doing, it meant so much to both of us.
And so, everything snowballed from there…
Tom and Lucy shared their evening on social media - we had people asking for more information and we just ran with it.
Over the 3 months we delivered boxes every week until when, in August, it became very apparent, very quickly, that sending out boxes from our 2-metre squared kitchen wasn’t going to work long-term and that we needed more space.
This is where our vision for The Host’s Pantry truly started to grow. Scott’s father, Stephen, has a ginormous workshop and he was happy to donate a corner of it for us to develop into a kitchen prep area along with a half-converted room off it that we could develop into an office space. When we say ‘half converted’ it had previously been an office many years ago, but a leaking roof had meant the ceiling had fallen in, so there was a fair bit of work to do.
We knew that if we were ploughing our efforts into creating a working space that we needed to give The Host’s Pantry an official launch, so it was time for us to invest in a website and branding and do things ‘properly’. We put a hold on deliveries to enable us the time to get everything ready, both Scott and I wanted it to be ‘right’ (I learnt quickly it was never going to be perfect) and so that meant we needed the space and time to make sure all of the fine tuning was done by the time we clicked ‘live’ on a new website.
Renovating the office and kitting out the prep kitchen took longer than expected (I suppose everything worthwhile always does, but still) - it nearly broke me, after ripping up the floor and removing the ceiling I couldn’t move for 3 days, but we did it and I am so proud that we now have an official space and home for The Host’s Pantry.
Everyone tells you starting a traditional business is hard, that it’ll take blood, sweat and tears (it does), but no one really prepares you for the amount of self-doubt you are faced with, the making of decisions that you know will directly impact the business but not feeling qualified to know the right answer - and of course the seemingly never-ending exhaustion.
Yet there is also the promise: what you are doing will be worth it, and wow. They’re right, it truly is.
Building a space designed for our business really helped me see the bigger picture, it felt real, it felt grown up and it really helped me believe in what we had started. Scott didn’t need the space to feel that, The Host’s Pantry is his brainchild after all, so once I had caught up with him the belief and excitement solidified.
By November 2020 we were almost there. The website was nearly ready, the new logo sorted, the new workspace complete, the branding ordered, all of the dishes were written and the hosting guides redesigned - but there was one final GIANT job to do, cook and photograph the dishes.
Four days of cooking and photographing twenty-five dishes and then re-making and photographing three of those dishes, it’s safe to say that stress levels ran high that week but…
We did it.
Our lockdown baby arrived to the public on 20th November 2020. Both Mother (Jess) and baby are doing well. Dad (Scott) is in the corner drinking rum. Some things will never change!
One final note:
If you’re holding onto an idea, a concept or goal that you truly believe in, don’t let go of it. The perfect opportunity and moment will come, and when it does you’ll be ready.
If you’re still here, thank you for reading.