Victoria Cozens is a co-founder of East London’s speciality coffee roasters Perky Blenders. Since starting with her husband, Adam and her brother-in-law, Tom in 2015, she’s played a crucial part in building a brand that’s responsible, friendly and accessible to all.
Hive Collective: Tell us a bit about Perky Blenders
Victoria Cozens: In four years, we (Perky Blenders), have created 4 cafes, 2 roasteries, moved all consumables and packaging to eco-friendly-options, rebranded, held talks and training, switched websites, all whilst balancing 327 tasks that all need doing now, right now.
You might think this came from years in the coffee industry, countless contacts and heaps of help. But, this all came after I worked for 8 years in IT for an International Law firm and at the same time as starting a family!
We spotted one of those glorious gaps in the market and invested in a 1kg coffee roaster and started out small. We worked hard in a small shed in our back garden. We focused on businesses in Walthamstow, built our name through events, networking and social media. Fortunately, locals couldn’t wait for 3rd wave coffee to hit the area and have been incredibly keen to support such a caring and conscious coffee company.
HC: How long have you had your business and what was the catalyst for starting it?
VC: Having a family and wanting to be more local to our family rather than commuting.
HC: You have bricks and mortar (4 kiosks/cafes and 2 roasteries) and a subscription business, how many people do you employ and what are the challenges of building and maintaining your team?
VC: We employ 30 people and the main challenge is getting everyone together for meetings. When we were smaller we met every week, then as we grew every two weeks, then once a month. Now we make an effort to make it a social occasion to meet up once a month and just have fun together and hold regular smaller team and managers meetings.
HC: What part do you play in the business on a daily basis?
VC: Many a time I have tried to define exactly what I do and it is so varied, it’s hard to say exactly one thing more than another. I manage 3 company email accounts. I work 2 days a week in the roastery alongside our accountant. I run the payroll each month. The rest of the time you can find me in The Magistrates or Project 660 catching up with the team. I work most evenings at home catching up on company admin too!
HC: What support or help have you had along the way? (mentors/coaches/courses/networks..)
VC: Networking has been helpful, meeting other people who also have their own businesses and families who understand the struggles and rewards.
HC: Has living in Waltham Forest contributed to your success/journey?
VC: Absolutely, moving here was very much part of the inspiration to start a business. Waltham Forest has seen much positive change in the last 10 years and the diverse local community have been a key part of our success.
“Collaborating is a fantastic way to grow brand, it is a cost-effective way to market your brand, and beneficial to both.“
HC: You have collaborated with lots of brands, how do these partnerships contribute to your business?
VC: Oh gosh, the list is long. From tech giants Google to small craft breweries like Tap East. Collaborating is a fantastic way to grow a brand, it is a cost-effective way to market your brand, and beneficial to both. When collaborating with other local brands it is really lovely to share success and is always well received with the community and often grows yours and their presence outside of the local community.
HC: Do you have any tips for creating a strong visual identity - you have recently updated your logo, was that a big decision?
VC: It was a big decision but it was time to move on from the homemade look. Our commercial manager Emily has been a key force in getting us where we need to be. She is continually evaluating our brand position in the market, she carries out a detailed analysis of our competitors and makes sure we stand out from the crowd. It's been a journey getting to where we are today but one we have thoroughly enjoyed and the feedback has been really good.
HC: What’s it like working alongside your husband / running a family business?
VC: It is firstly extremely rewarding to have created a business together, but I cannot lie it is also all-consuming at times. However, now we have an office to go to, we do try to separate home and business as much as we can. We are very lucky to have such a strong team we do not need to not work weekends, that's our family time.
HC: What are your plans for the next 12 months?
VC: To look at growing our subscription model, we are rebranding it slightly to sound more customer-friendly and approachable. We have also created a new brand with a different coffee style offering, and we will be putting some strategy around this - so watch this space!
HC: Thanks for sharing so much with us Victoria.
You can find out more about Perky Blenders here: