Cupcakes and freakshakes can step aside, there’s a new treat making waves in the food world. Cookies and milk is officially the cool new combo, thanks, in part, to Blondies Kitchen, the dynamic London duo who are popping up in Selfridges this month. We sat down with Founders and trained chefs Chelsie and Kristelle to find out more about their journey so far…
What were your backgrounds before you started Blondies Kitchen?
Kristelle has always worked in restaurants and was head chef at a restaurant in Primrose Hill for over two years. Chelsie was a cookery writer for BBC Good Food, starting as a cookery assistant, testing all the recipes for the magazine and producing hundreds of recipes for the site.
Where did the idea come from?
We were in the midst of running our catering business as a bit of a side hustle when we both took trips to New York and fell in love with the hole-in-the-wall, fast food concept they have there. It seemed so much more sophisticated than fast food as we know it in the UK. We decided doing one thing and doing it really well was key to getting this right – our cookies were always well-received at our private catering jobs, so we knew we were onto a winner.
Tell us more about Blondies Kitchen…
Well, we’re the only girls out there offering a milk and cookie bar in the UK! We also add a touch of nostalgia to everything on our menu – take our cereal milk, for example, it takes you right back to your childhood; our aim is to make people smile.
What’s your most popular product?
Everyone seems to love our Get Stuffed cookie (an Oreo cookie stuffed with Nutella) and our new Frosted Flakes cereal milk, exclusive to Selfridges.
Did you face any challenges getting the business off the ground?
Every start-up has its struggles, and we still get stuck sometimes, there are only two of us so things can seem overwhelming. We’ve learnt we can only grow as far as we can manage. We take baby steps before running and constantly remind each other we’re living our dream, so even when the going gets tough it’s worth it.
Was there a first big break moment?
When Selfridges approached us to be in their food hall it was a dream come true – we had a viewing lined up for a potential pop-up site and were emailing each other about it, Chelsie emailed saying: “Okay, but I want Selfridges.” Then, two hours later, Selfridges contacted us. We were screaming for a good two minutes when it came through.
Let’s talk branding…
Branding is everything – if you like what you see you’re more inclined to buy or show interest in a product. We are always so excited when people say they like our branding or packaging because when it’s yours and you’ve built it from the ground up, it means everything.
And has social media played a part?
Absolutely! Social media is key to growing any business these days – engagement is a great indicator of what people want. For us, social media is a way to communicate with people who care about food as much as we do.
How do you juggle the creative and the commercial side of a business?
It’s really hard and we’re learning every day how to find that balance. On the days we’re in the kitchen, we can’t reply to emails and this can be difficult. Chelsie has taken more of a back seat in the kitchen recently, to handle admin and business enquiries. When you run a business, you have to ensure every aspect gets attention and time, we’ve both got different strengths and it’s important that we bring different things to the table.
It’s just the two of you – how are you expanding Blondies Kitchen?
We’ve got to a point where it’s difficult just being a two-man band. We recently hired an intern for a month to help us with everything from admin to sourcing equipment and, of course, getting in the kitchen! We’ve got a fantastic head baker on board for our Selfridges pop-up stint from 1st May and we’ve just hired a kitchen unit for a couple of months. All of these things are huge steps for us, as we’ve had absolutely no investment and tried to build the business slowly.
What would be your advice to others looking to start a business?
Go for it! If you don’t try you’ll never know – but persistence and passion are key if you’re going to be successful.