When you love what you do your work doesn’t feel like work at all, which is what Sarah Lovelock believes when it comes to running her business Lovelocks Coffee Shop.
Based in Liverpool City Centre, Lovelocks Coffee Shop was founded after Sarah was made redundant, from her job at the time, following a leg injury. Having dreamt of opening her own cafe for years, she took her situation as a sign and decided to make her dream a reality. Serving delicious coffee, tea and fresh food, made from locally-sourced ingredients, Lovelocks Coffee Shop is a great example of a female-founded independent business.
We spoke to Sarah about her experience as a female founder and the importance of creating an inclusive space for all.
1. Which 3 skills would you say are crucial to being a founder?
Being adaptable. Things never seem to go the way that you think they will. You can plan for everything but sometimes you just have to make it work.
Having stamina. Being a founder is really hard! It’s boss, and completely worth it, but it’s really hard.
Being able to take advice.
2. What’s your biggest business achievement to date?
That it’s survived. That I did it…I opened it. I dreamt about it for 15 years. Even if it all crumbled now I would still be made up that I did it. The fact that I’ve made a community on the street is another thing. When I moved in the street was dead and had no life to it, but setting up the shop brought life and energy to the street.
One of the best things about the shop is that it’s never just one type of person who comes in. I’ve created a safe and inclusive space, which is important to me as I work with a lot of the Queer Collective. I also made sure that my prices were low enough that people didn’t feel like they couldn’t come in, and included ‘normal’ things on the menu alongside more interesting meals.
3. What are the challenges you face now that are different from when you started your business?
The biggest challenges are the bits of the business that you can’t control. Things like the landscape changes, the fact that the property doesn’t belong to you, that a competitor could move in, that they could take away parking etc. I think it’s important to be adaptable to this though and not beat yourself up about the things that you can’t control.
4. What are the biggest barriers you face when it comes to growing your business?
Money is obviously a big one, but also apprehension and doubting myself. Space, as well, as there’s only so much I can do within the space. I’d like to be able to do more events but in the space that I have at the moment, I can’t.
Having confidence in my ideas and decisions can also be a barrier. I’m always terrified to change things and take products off the menu because I know some people love those certain things about the shop. Sometimes I’ll second-guess important decisions and try bouncing ideas off other people, usually with my accountant. I do think that questioning myself is a good thing though.
5. If you could learn more about one area of marketing, what would it be?
It’d have to be Instagram because that seems to be the most successful platform in terms of advertising for restaurants and cafes. Social media can be a negative space, and can sometimes make you worry about getting things wrong, especially since you’re a bit more under the magnifying glass on there. However, there’s also a sense of community on social media, and it’s a great way to interact with people too.
6. How did you recognise that you were an entrepreneurial person?
Running the shop was something that I’d wanted to do for my entire life but I’ve never thought of it as running a business. It’s just something that I enjoy doing. For me, it was more about the enjoyment that I had for it rather than running a business. Also, I never felt like I was positively contributing to the world in my previous jobs but running the shop feels like I’m doing something positive.
7. What makes you proudest about your company?
This links back to my biggest achievements as a company but it’d have to be the inclusivity that I’m most proud of. As I said earlier, the shop is a safe space for everyone to come to which is what I wanted to create.
8. If someone was struggling with their confidence, what would your advice be?
Speak to like-minded business people. Anytime I feel like I’m not fulfilling things I speak to a lot of independent female-owned businesses. Speaking to other people will make you feel like you’ve got your stuff together. You’re all there to help each other out after all.
9. If you could magically change one thing about your business now, what would it be?
To make it bigger. I’d love to make the space more accessible as well. I hate that at the moment the shop isn’t wheelchair accessible, as creating an inclusive space is important to me. Having the space to be able to organise more events at the shop would be amazing as well.
10. Tell us about another brilliant businesswoman that our readers should know about
Nat from the Bagelry and Kate from KT Building Services are both brilliant local businesswomen. Kate works as a builder and a joiner – a woman in a man’s world! She helped out a lot with the shop as well.
Want to learn more about Lovelocks Coffee Shop?
If you’re looking to discover even more incredible female founders then why not check out our interview with Aoibheann McCormack, Founder of Dumb Dough.