As we delve into the life of Director and Taste of Bath Founder, we uncover the highs of running her own business but also the sacrifices taken to remain a successful entrepreneur.
Who is Helen Rich? Why Taste of Bath? And what’s planned for the future?
Helen, for those who don’t know you, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be the owner of Taste of Bath.
Wow, where to start… Well, I’m a Bath girl through and through really. I grew up in Bath and went to school at Hayesfield. In 2009 I married a Beechen cliff boy and he managed to take me over to Bristol for 8 years. But I’m back, and love nothing more than the city of Bath!
My previous career was as a retail trouble shooter – I used to travel the country, training store managers, opening and closing stores, problem solving within the store itself, along with training customer service executives.
I then started Rich Pickings: Artisan Terrines and Pates. After teaching myself butchery, I created terrines and pâtés for wholesale clients and was a regular at Bath Farmer’s Market. I still get stopped in the street and called pâté lady!
Hey ‘pâté lady’, that’s a pretty cool story. So where was Taste of Bath born?
Well, in November 2015, I decided to take the leap and launched Taste of Bath. Taking the business from concept through to regular trading was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But, I stuck to my vision, and the vision came good; To provide local people with an online shop to purchase locally produced groceries.
Early on it became clear that the online market had an appetite for hampers. It seemed that everyone wanted to send Bath produce to their loved ones, so we decided to focus on gifting within the hamper market.
People loved the old-fashioned English apple crates we were supplying, but felt they were slightly too big for gifting purposes. So, in early 2017 we launched the ‘Bath Box’, and people loved it. The iconic box has become the distinguishing feature of our brand and its price range has been much more popular.
That sounds like a great journey Helen. Adapting to the customer’s needs seems to have set you in good stead?
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had challenging times, as does every business, but we always try to remain positive here at Taste of Bath. I always say that having a smile on your face is half the battle.
That being said, you can’t do it without passion. My passion in business incorporates 3 things: Bath, food and hard work.
But yes, you’re right, adapting is key to our industry. That’s why in September 2018, again listening to customer feedback we introduced new lower price points of £10 and £15 hampers. These have gone down a storm with our customers.
That’s fantastic. So, you mentioned passion is key in business, Is there anything else?
Definitely. I have a list of core values I like to live by in business.
Authenticity. Always be yourself. I always strive to be as authentic as my brand. What you see is what you get with me and I always try to treat others the way I like to be treated.
Customer Service – My CORE value. Right or wrong, my core interest is delivering to the highest standard possible for our customers. Our customers are at the forefront of every decision that is made here at Taste of Bath and making sure their needs are met is number one for me.
Community and giving back. I am all about my community, getting involved, encouraging growth and helping others to improve. I work a lot with our local producers to ensure they are portrayed in the best possible way.
I have personally been given a lot of advice and support from all of Bath’s Business Community, so I like to help and mentor other business owners too if I can. I also like to do a couple of talks at the college to try help or inspire others as much as possible.
What a crazy schedule Helen. Your hard work is definitely paying off. We hear you won a number of awards this year.
Yes, we did! I’m so proud of myself and the team for our hard work.
In Feb this year we were recognised for our new business service element. Taste of Bath was awarded ‘Bath Life Awards, Best Business Service’.
Then in May, I was recognised in the Top 100 Women in the West Awards, and in August as a Top 100 Influencer in Bath’s Power List – Little old me.
It seems like you’re a local inspiration. Do you have any time for play?
I’m busy, but I always try to make time for family and friends. Running a business, I don’t get to spend as much time with my family as I would like, but I do love hanging out with my husband (the constant in my life). Plus, a big family of siblings, parents, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins, the whole clan is focused on food and jazz – this is my happy place.
I’m also super social. I love nothing more than spending time with people. New acquaintances or old friends, I am a total extrovert and love networking in both business and personal settings.
You’re a little social butterfly! Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Food! I am all things foodie. Food inspired holidays, cooking for family and friends, finding the best places to eat and just generally shopping for food. Some people love shopping for shoes, I get excited about salt and varieties of coffees.
Alcohol (I like to think I’m a good drinker). With a passion for wine, whiskey and gin, I love going out for a couple of social bevies of an evening as well as visiting vineyards and matching wine and food.
Jazz music. I am a huge fan of jazz. My favourite holidays are sitting in a hot, sunny climate, listening to jazz and indulging in good food and even better wine.
Well, you know what they say, jazz is about being in the moment. Talking of being the moment, our final question, what’s next for Taste of Bath?
The plan has always been for my hometown to be the template of a nationwide business. With cities represented under the ‘Taste-of’ family. Taste of Bristol will be launching in 2020, with all produce being sourced within 20 miles of Bristol.
The plan post 2020 is to take the successful model and launch in Cardiff, Exeter and Oxford, with a nationwide roll out in the next 5 years.
We’re certainly hungry for success here at Taste-of.