Journalist shuns depressing news agenda to launch Fridge of Plenty
When lockdown hit and broadcast journalist Julia Kirby-Smith was made redundant, she decided to make a massive life change and launch her own sustainable food store. Julia worked for Channel Four News before being headhunted by a tech firm – but when they “pivoted” and made her whole team redundant, the bleakness of the news agenda (Coronavirus, Donald Trump and Brexit) was more than she could bear to return to. She explained: “I could see my life was going to be full of miserable news stories and didn’t want to do that anymore. I’ve always had a passion for food and an interest in food production. In my 20s I experimented with cheese production, and we’ve always had an allotment or a veg bed and grown our own food. I decided to do something based around food, and it had to be food that's good for people and planet - and delicious.” Fridge of Plenty was born – the Crouch End business stocks foods which are local, sustainable and largely plastic-free. As well as a gorgeous selection of locally-made cheeses and meat cured nearby, there’s a good selection of plant-based, vegetarian options, plus lots of store cupboard essentials, locally-baked bread, English wines and spirits, and an organic veg box.
They have a great website and deliver within three miles (largely by bike courier). Local Buyers Club members save 10% online and in store. Julia’s putting her communication and research skills to good use – getting to know the producers she features, telling their stories in her newsletters, and including recipes and info sheets to give customers cooking tips. “I’ve always had an entrepreneurial streak”, she added. “I had a previous side hustle buying and selling antique watches and I enjoy retail and running a business. “When people shop with Fridge of Plenty they are supporting UK farmers and London's small food producers."
She added: “It’s nice to support passionate people making artisan products, especially when they’ve been so badly impacted by what’s happened to the hospitality trade. It’s good to have a transparent supply chain to ensure fairness and quality and, in terms of sustainability, it’s great to buy food which hasn’t travelled many miles!” Fridge of Plenty launched in November 2020 – shortly afterwards the UK entered another lockdown. Julia, 39 and her husband Gerald, who works for a big tech company, faced the challenge of home-schooling their two young children while managing the fledgling business. She said: “There have been a lot of late nights – sometimes it has been too much for us all, and there have been tears and tantrums. It has been tough but it’s getting easier and we’ve found a rhythm. “Crouch End is a lovely place to be – we’re next to Floral Hall, a fantastic wine bar, and near men's clothing shop Murray Store and the best indies!” www.fridgeofplenty.com
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