I've always been a fatty, I love food and my life revolves around it. When I'm not cooking at work or at home, I'm watching food shows, I'm collecting and reading endless cook books, listening to podcasts about it, talking to other foodies, writing and sharing recipes and salivating over ideas for the business.
I also love branding stuff, although I have limited technical skills in design. All i know is that I love skulls, matte black and white dots on everything.
Tubby Tom's is the perfect combination of all of my passions. I spend all day working with amazing food, creating sauces and seasonings and selling them to awesome, like-minded people.
It all started with a single batch of BBQ sauce i'd made in the summer of 2014. My friends loved it and joked about how I should sell it and brand it as 'Tubby Tom's'. I thought it was pretty funny and it seemed like a great idea, so I made some more, drew up some sketchy labels and took it down to our local farm shop.
Surprisingly it started selling really well, so well that the local council heard about it and got in touch to highlight that our sauce labels needed to adhere to criteria to be sold to the public. That was the moment I decided to give it a go and take it a bit more seriously: this was the first step into becoming an actual business.
That summer I roped my friends & family to help me with a catering gig for Barn on the Farm festival. I had to cater for all of the bands and staff as well as serve my own 'Tubby Tom's Chicken, Chips & BBQ sauce' to the public. We made lots of curries and lots of BBQ chicken. I even got some shirts printed for the crew and branded everything ' tubby tom's'. It makes me laugh to think about it now, we had THE BEST time and my crew were amazing. I remember having most of my crew and three italian blokes from the pizza stall stay at our tiny cottage on the farm, the sofas were full and we had camp beds and mattresses on the floor for everyone with one tiny broken toilet to use between us. good mems.
Looking back I probably bit off more than I could chew with the larger catering gigs, we smashed it hard but I was ready to learn more about the food industry.
The little jars of BBQ sauce were selling away nicely at the farm shop, I'd recently got married to the love of my life and when the opportunity came along to get some chef training in Cardiff I decided to take it and we moved away.
After 9 months of dough making, pot washing and lots of corn starch we decided to move back to Gloucester. We found a little flat to rent and I'd got a job making and then selling jam in a local jam factory in Stroud (Kitchen Garden). The guys there were awesome, I stayed for 2 years, learned loads and they kindly let me use their huge jam pans on the weekends to make my sauces.
The weekends I didn't spend cooking the sauce, i'd be out at farmers markets selling it. My friends and family often got roped in (common theme here) to help me do the big cooks. They also helped me with the market stalls sometimes too, they're the best. Thanks guys, couldn't have done it with out you.
In the meantime, the sauce sales were building. In the evenings I would contact more and more shops and restaurants. We got listed in Harvey Nichols, I nearly died with excitement. I remember the day the buyer said she'd take an order and I welled up, nearly cried! I nearly cried again when I saw it on the shelves in the flesh, was so awesome.
This was a great achievement for Tubby's and gave us exposure across the country.
It got to the stage where I was starting to burn out, I couldn't juggle the running of the business with working full time anymore and it just kept getting busier so I decided to bite the bullet and quit my day job.
Unfortunately this meant I could no longer rent the big production kitchen from my employers so I had to move all production back to my little flat.
It was crazy, I had all of my spices, ingredients and bottles in the spare room and lounge of the flat. All of the boxes (three pallets worth) were crammed in our bedroom (and in my mates loft), piled floor to ceiling either side and at the foot of the bed. It was insane, the flat stank of spices too, luckily my neighbours were chill..
My mate Hetty makes incredible brownies. She'd started renting a kitchen in a local industrial estate and kindly said I could rent and use the space when she wasn't in there. This worked really well for us and enabled me to make larger batches again and store more ingredients. My mum had also recently quit her job, so was on hand to help out more regularly.
We eventually found our own unit, it was perfect timing as we were getting even busier and were struggling to make enough sauce even with mums help. In 2018 we moved in and built a production kitchen from scratch. We lay the flooring, built the walls and structure, plastic cladded everything and built our own mezzanine. My dad did the plumbing, my mates did the electrics and helped with all aspects of the build and my mum is just awesome at DIY and smashed it out with me. We finally had our very own hot sauce temple, where we could cook for as long as we needed and store all of the ingredients we needed.
Having our own space was life changing, it enabled us to run the business properly. I could pay myself and now pay my mum for all her help. She's now employed full time by the business and we've managed to pay back the money we borrowed which is awesome.
In 2020 our world turned upside down! I'd had a baby in the January & then in March, Covid struck the entire world and it threw us into a terrifying state of uncertainty.
At first the sales completely dropped, people were much more focussed on trying to stay alive rather than securing their hot sauce fix. Then all of our catering customers closed and stopped ordering, including most of the restaurants, street food trucks, cafes etc. This was really scary as we still had rent to pay on our unit, rent to pay on my flat and I'd only just started paying mum properly for all her work.
All of a sudden the independent store that we supplied started getting busier, we sure a huge rise in wholesale orders for shops. We also saw a phenomenal increase in online orders - it happened all of a sudden, one day we were packing a few 'overnighters' a day, the next day we were packing 50! Then it even got to a point where we were packing hundreds of orders! We couldn't believe it.
The whole world was scary, so I locked myself away at the unit and continued to post online. We kept in touch with everyone and it was awesome to have a support network.
It got to a point where we needed help, and two of my best buddies were available to help. That's when we employed Robb and Fraser.
It was a lot of fun, also pretty dangerous as all three of us loved to mess around. We always made sure the orders were done but there was a lot of towel whipping, pranking, bullying and general ruckus.
We were constantly chasing our tails, cooking and packing endlessly. We held some markets once the world started to open up again and we were blown away with how many people turned up to support it! It was a particular Christmas one in 2020 and we got absolutely ransacked! We couldn't believe how much money we took that day but we needed it, it was a great cash injection that helped us get more cooking equipment and bulk buy ingredients while we could get them!
Sadly Robb left the Tubby crew to pursue a career as an Electrician, I always tell people I fired him. We really missed having him as part of the team, but we did keep Fraser. Fraser took a lot of rigorous training to get him to the sauce master he is today, but ya know, I think of it as good karma for me to give him such an honourable position here.
Emma is the partner of a friend and long time associate of ours Sam Piper. She joined the team once Robb had gone and absolutely smashed it and continues to boss it with her northern toughness.
We also employed our buddy Dan Williams, the sound engineer from deepest darkest Wales. He came down to help with everything - from packing boxes to making dusts! We were sad to see him go, we had a lot of fun, but at the same time it was awesome to see him go back to his career in live music.
We kept getting busier and busier and ended up needing to take on more staff, we employed Tori and then her husband Ant shortly after. Tori is a part of the kitchen crew and Ant is responsible for all of the packing of all of your amazing orders!
As i'm writing this we've actually moved units two more times, we created a whole new kitchen which we've just moved out of and we're currently sat in a unit that's four and half times the size of our previous one.
This time our kitchen is bigger, with more space to move and more space for more employees! Just before we moved we were making thousands of bottles of sauce a week, hundreds of kilos of seasoning and hopefully once we've made the new kitchen we can smash even more!!!!
Watch this space!