"When you buy something from a small business an actual person does a little happy dance."
If you are from Hitchin then you will definitely come across the gem that is Vintage Bay, if you haven't, why not? Trust me go there, and you'll be hooked. Once you step into this cosy little shop your eyes will start darting everywhere. It is like an Aladdin's Cave full of perfect little (and large!) treasures that will transform you into a kid in a candy store. But, instead of Candy this space is full of perfect little additions to your home ranging from conservative and super unique, there quite literally something for everyone. I think Ben tries to change our normal route in Hitchin so I don't make him see something that "We must have. And wouldn't it be perfect for..."
One of my favoruite things about these interviews is you get to learn something new about the people behind some of our favourite local businesses. How many of you knew that this is actually her second successful business? See, I think putting a face behind the business makes you more invested. We are lucky enough to have some of the most incredible local businesses and when you know more about them, it makes me support them even more. SO make sure you read all about the lovely Amy below.
What made you start your own business?
I had a career job in the Met Police before leaping into self employment. Parts of my job, such as firearms training, I really loved, but as the years passed by I dreamt of creating something new and exciting on my own. I decided to take some unpaid leave, bought an Italian Piaggio Ape, had it converted into a Vintage style barista coffee cart and began to sell fresh Italian coffee all over London and beyond. Within two months I had two carts and several staff, i loved every moment and never looked back!
My beloved cart was named Patsy after my late Granny and in it hung some of her vintage enamelware alongside an old Bush radio. So many people asked to buy these items and complimented my brand and the overall style of my 50’s inspired set up that eventually i decided to create a second business called Vintage Bay.
When was your first ‘I made it’ moment?
With Barista Baby it was being stood at the gates of Earls Court, looking up from the coffee machine and seeing a queue of about 30 people waiting for an espresso, this was shortly followed by a feature in Caffeine Magazine which was a total shock!
For Vintage Bay I would say winning the Muddy Stiletto’s Award for the Best Gift Shop in Hertfordshire was a great moment as well as being featured in Reclaimed Magazine a few months later.
What is the toughest part of your job?
For me the work/life balance has always been a complex juggling act. Being self employed with a shop that opens seven days a week (and until recently a second business) with a young child is pretty tough sometimes. I was a single Mother when my little boy was very small so running both businesses alone was much harder then it is now. I have a great little team at Vintage Bay and I feel very grateful!
What is your most memorable food experience?
I learnt to ski with my big brother from a very young age and following a morning exploring the mountains we’d trek to this wooden shack to eat Kaiserschmarrn aka ‘Emperors Mess’ (a classic Austrian dish of shredded pancakes, caramelised sugar and rum soaked raisins served with fruit compote). The dish was served for generations by the same family and it always felt like a special experience. We’d share, eating straight out of a huge old pan and would spend ages using a fork to measure out exactly half each! I’ve never been able to perfect the recipe at home but the 80% rum used up the mountain makes a mean hot chocolate.
Name one food you couldn’t live without.
Bread! I grew up eating stacks of soda bread and homemade jam with my Granny and peanut butter on toast is my absolute favourite.
What is your most memorable travel experience?
I’ve travelled fairly extensively but I feel there are still so many places I want to visit! One of my favourites was backpacking in Cambodia. The culture was so far removed from the West and I found Cambodian people to be so kind and thoughtful as a lone female traveller. Exploring the vast Angkor Wat temples, conversing with monks and haggling at the local markets were amazing times for me.
Where is your go to place for inspiration?
Camden Town would be up there, it was my home for years and the vibrant independent boutiques and eccentric interiors of the bars and eateries as well as the bohemian artisans in its market make me feel like it’s Christmas all year round.
I also visit the Austrian mountains annually to ski (and to Apres Ski!) I’ll never tire of the rustic interiors and Alpine styling and with every visit I leave with a sense of renewed energy and fresh ideas.
Name one thing you couldn’t live without?
My son Rex, he’s a sleep thief but also the love of my life.
Loved finding out more about Amy from Vintage Bay? Why not check out some of our other interviews with amazing local businesses.
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