Otis Breading: passionate foodies turned business owners
With a name like Otis Breading , it’s clear that Elouise and Gavin care about the detail of their business. From supporting local suppliers to developing unique flavour combinations, the school friends turned cofounders turned their passion for perfectly toasted sandwiches into a sizzling success – read on to hear their story.
Q: Hi Elouise and Gavin! We have to ask – how did you come up with such an incredible business name?
Gavin: We had just had our son, Otis when we founded our business, and it seemed only fitting to name it after him. Obviously, we love the music of Otis Redding – so for a business selling toasted sandwiches it all fit together perfectly.
Q: Why toasted sandwiches?
Elouise: It began with many a late-night experiment. We’re passionate foodies, and we wanted to concoct the perfect balance of ooze, crunch, and flavour – with some twists on the classic grilled cheese. Our toasties are all made with homemade or locally sourced ingredients, something we’re immensely proud of.
Q: Your kimchi toastie was a big hit. Do you think your careful selection of suppliers makes a difference to the final product?
Gavin: Absolutely. It really means a lot to us, to support other small businesses. We try to use the best quality and local organic ingredients because – as well as tasting amazing – it all feeds back into our own economy.
Elouise: We get our sourdough bread from a bakery a few miles down the road from us. They use local flour and it is great quality. Supporting our local community is so important to us. Helping other small businesses thrive – they’re the soul of our country’s economy! We’re so aware that if we don’t support them, it’s a use it or lose it kind of thing.
Gavin: It goes both ways – we find ourselves overwhelmed with the support we get back from our local community too.
Q: What has becoming business founders taught you?
Gavin: As someone who has felt misrepresented because of my race in the past, I’m learning that it shouldn't be a barrier. You’ve got to reach out and grab the opportunities just like any other person.
Elouise: I think being from a mixed ethnicity background has presented some challenges. Even being a bit different in school, especially compared with some of our friends who were from slightly more affluent backgrounds, they had different opportunities. Gavin and I come from similar backgrounds – mixed heritage, single parents. But starting Otis Breading has taught us to persevere and we're really proud of ourselves.
Q: How has winning the Barclaycard Business Award helped your business?
Elouise: It's been lifechanging. In such a short period of time, we’ve been able to accelerate our growth in a way that we didn't think would be possible.
Gavin: I remember we were on holiday when we first got the email, and we couldn't really believe it. We're so, so happy to have been given it and to have received the mentorship we have from industry experts.
Elouise: We normally run a business out of a little horsebox. With the award, we’ve been able to upgrade our setup with signage and a gazebo. We’ve also been able to invest in new equipment like griddles and a fryer, which means we can serve more customers.
Q: Looking to the future, how would you like your business to grow and evolve?
Elouise: I’m really passionate about gut health and ferments. I make all of that in-house and would love to grow that side of the business, especially for when it’s not events season.
Gavin: On that note, we also really want to build our online presence. We've got a website, but at the minute we're not selling anything on our shop. That’s where we would sell the ferments and pickles – and we’d reach a nationwide audience. It’s something that we're hoping to do with the award money.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone thinking of starting their own business?
Elouise: Know that it is possible. A lot of people have the dream and it's a side hustle that they want to take full time, but they're kind of scared – and it is scary to not have stability and not know how something is going to go… but you’ve got to try.
Gavin: And it’s fun to do what you want to do! It's really nice going to work every day and loving it and never having that feeling of just ‘oh I don't really want to be doing this’.