Ros Heathcote runs the organic broth company Borough Broth co. We caught up with her to see how she got started and to hear her advice for others looking to start a similar venture.
I started the company back in May 2015 after meeting a butcher at the market and struck a deal to exchange consulting with a free supply of bones. I hired a kitchen to start making organic bone broth as no one was doing it in the UK and it was a product that I felt should be available as it is so nourishing, delicious and simple. I continued to run the company alongside my full time job as a Business Analyst for two years, until February 2017, when I finally said goodbye to the corporate world and expanded my kitchen and team into what it is today.
I had no idea what I was doing when I started it to be honest, but I just kept thinking ‘it can’t be that difficult’.
Well naivety is a wonderful thing, but needless to say I’m still doing it (with a brilliant team behind me) so it can’t have gone too badly!
What inspired you to start Borough Broth?
I’m one of four siblings, and these days the other three all live in the USA. On my regular visits I’d seen bone broth as a product in all the decent organic health food shops. I was always making it for myself, so when I got home, I spoke to a butcher who offered me as many bones as I liked, as long as I could pick them up from the market. So it got me thinking..!
After that it was a matter of telling myself if I don’t do it I’ll always regret it. That seemed to work nicely.
What skills did you come to the business with already and how have these helped to grow your business?
Skills in business are a funny thing. I think from my few years running a business it seems intuition is the biggest skill, and that’s something I think that comes naturally. I have a degree in Music, and ten years working in software development, data analysis and project management.
Yet, when I started this I barely knew what an invoice was.
Everything came with a really steep learning curve. I knew about food as I’d worked in restaurants throughout my teens and early twenties, but really food production is a very different beast.
Project management skills and being a dab-hand at Excel took me a long way though.
Safe and successful business/food management I think is about serious planning and organisation. So I just treated it like an IT project and that seemed to work pretty well.
How have bloggers and online influencers helped you grow your brand?
To be honest, hugely. We haven’t really paid for people to support us, and I think that shows. It’s all felt, as the brand is, very organic. We have had quite a few health and wellness, food and lifestyle bloggers pick up our product in a shop and post about it.
That is the most heartwarming – when it comes out of nowhere.
But our first real customer was Selfridges and they found us on Instagram when we had only a couple of hundred followers. So I’m a true believer in social influencing as a force for good when it comes to brand visibility.
What’s the most challenging thing about setting up Borough Broth?
I think I’ve had to learn some pretty hard life lessons when it comes to trust. I’m naturally a pretty trusting person who likes to give people the benefit of the doubt but I’ve been stung a couple of times over the years so I’ve had to become a little more cynical sadly. I think making agreements up front is really important, just so everyone’s on the same page.
What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you started?
Without sounding too trite, nothing. I think you’re meant to find things out as they happen, even if it means you lose something.
Everything’s a lesson and is meant to happen when it happens.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting to create their own food/product company?
Don’t overthink it, just do it and it’ll all start to make sense.