Lindsay Jackson is the co-owner of Aberdeen based Smoke and Soul which she set up with her partner, Corey after quitting their 9-5 careers to follow their passion. In just a few years Smoke and Soul have won an award for ‘Best Social Media Presence’ and were a finalist for the ‘Food Business Of The Year’ award. Their BBQ comfort food is absolutely delicious and a welcome addition to the street food scene.
I have known Lindsay for over 10 years, I was once her manager and she has always been driven and highly motivated so I am not surprised at how well her business is doing. I have so much admiration for Lindsay for following her dream and am thrilled to have her as my Mindset for Business guest today.
Q.1 Hi Lindsay, firstly congratulations on the success of Smoke and Soul so far. How did the idea come about?
Thank you! My partner and I are massive foodies and Corey’s favourite past-time has always been cooking, especially BBQ. We often spoke hypothetically about running some kind of food related business but it wasn’t until 2017, when we were both feeling fed up and underappreciated in our 9-5 jobs, that we started discussing our ideas in more detail. We figured street food could allow us to test the water in our spare time without much risk and since there weren’t many BBQ street food businesses in our area at the time, that was the obvious choice for us. We wanted to serve incredible comfort food – using excellent quality, locally sourced ingredients that showcased Corey’s slow smoked BBQ meats – all whilst being a conscious business; one that genuinely cares about the people within it, our community and our planet. That is where the name Smoke and Soul comes from – as we wanted to run a business that was good for our soul as well as others.
Q.2 What was your biggest challenge in going from a corporate career to setting up your own business?
We had the usual challenges of figuring everything out on our own but it wasn’t until 2019 when we quit our day jobs and opened our first full time kitchen residency that we faced our biggest challenge – we no longer had the security of a regular wage. We had to really focus on business development and marketing at that point and get a lot more savvy when it came to our finances. It had taken us a while to hire more staff – something that was absolutely necessary but also a scary step, as neither of us knew much about contracts etc. The Business Gateway was a great source of information at that stage in our business growth.
Q.3 Being a business owner can be tough, especially in the current climate. How do you stay calm when the stress piles up?
To do lists – breaking all the big tasks down and taking breaks. I’m a stress-head, often feeling overwhelmed and that I should be always busy. I have to remind myself not to be a busy fool – there’s rarely things needing done so urgently you can’t take a breather to re-centre and find your inner peace. Stepping back completely and doing a bit of self care when things all get a bit too much often helps me focus better and realise the mountain is merely just a hill.
Q.3 What are your business goals for the next 12 months?
After 4 years of working out of a pop up gazebo, we have just bought ourselves an old 1970s caravan we plan to convert into a retro food truck to serve out of at future events. This will make life a lot easier for setting up and make us stand out that bit more at events. We were finalists at the Scottish Street Food Awards this year and loved seeing all the cool trucks there! We would love to return in 2021 in our retro touring caravan! This year we built our own dedicated production facility for smoking meats, so we now have much more capacity to do more events or set up a second location now to spread our wings!
Q.5 What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business but who is scared about leaving the reliable 9-5?
If feasible, try starting a business that you can manage in your spare time whilst sticking at your day job. A business rarely goes from 1 to 100 overnight, so this allows you time to build your brand, your customer base and your confidence before taking the plunge! Although we missed out on a social life for the better part of two years, it really set us up for the long term and it was 100% the right choice for us.
Q.6 What would be your dream event to cater at?
When Smoke and Soul was just an idea, we both said we’d love to do the Brewdog AGM – then a year later, we were one of the traders there! So we’ve ticked a big bucket list for us personally – but my next dream event would be to do a large music festival. I think the atmosphere would be great and we’d have the perfect comfort food after a late night. Corey would love to trade at the Smoke and Fire festival or Meatopia in London one day!
Thank you again. Are there any websites/socials that you would like me to link to in the blog post?
@smokeandsoul – for instagram, facebook and twitter