Matt Fox, Fox & The Field10th August 2018
What’s it really like to start a business in hospitality? We started an interview series to find out.
This week, we talked with Matt Fox, Founder of Fox & The Field, about Juice, Brexit, Branding and the Costa del Suffolk.
Tell us about Fox & The Field.
We’re very new on the block. I’m pretty sure we’re Suffolk’s first and only mobile juice and smoothie business.
Fox & the Field is the result of my aspiration to have a brand in the food and drink industry, but one that could make a difference and help people. We make cold-press juices and smoothies using only plant-based ingredients, with a strong emphasis on supporting local, national and seasonal produce, whilst driving sustainable practices.
Our goal is to make healthy and fun drinks, for everybody and every body.
So we’re now out and about in my VW campervan and stand, preparing and selling our juices and smoothies to the good people of Suffolk and Norfolk.
You’ve trekked back from Australia to England to start a brand based on fresh fruit and drink. Why on earth would you leave Oz?
It’s a question we get asked a lot, and sometimes still ask ourselves. Brisbane is a fantastic city, great lifestyle, amazing weather, and part of my inspiration for Fox & the Field.
The Aussies are always very patriotic about their home-grown produce, and juices and smoothies were an everyday part life. I’ve never been too keen on eating plate loads of veg, but I know they’re very important to a healthy balanced diet.
So I started juicing and making smoothies, and loved it. Over here we like to celebrate the best of British, but I’d not associated this with fruit and veg. And I’d never really come across cold-pressed juices or healthy smoothies in the region, so I thought, why not combine these with our local and national produce. Such was my desire to pursue this idea that it meant we had no choice but to leave life down under and return to sunny Suffolk.
We live in the era of brand purpose. Provenance, heritage, missions, and visions. Is there a place for a food & drink brand to just be cool?
We don’t want to preach and inadvertently alienate our customers. If you look at brands such as Oatly and Nutriseed, they seem to have a bit of fun with their branding, whilst making it clear they want to help the planet and people without the pretense.
We want the Fox & the Field brand to become synonymous with fun, tasty healthy, sustainable drinks that are just cool to enjoy on the go.
"Some of our costs may have gone up compared to pre-Brexit, but on a positive note, is there a better time to launch a business that’s passionate about using and promoting local and national produce?"
You’ve migrated back to the UK at the same time as starting a new business. Clearly you’re not scared of change! What advice would you give to someone thinking of taking the leap and starting their first business?
Perhaps don’t do it whilst relocating your family 10,000 miles! But I had a concept and passion and wanted to get ahead of the market, so we had to come back and get it launched.
Personally, I wouldn’t rush into quitting the day job initially. I’ve self-funded my venture, and still consult for my old company part time, just to relieve some early financial pressures. Starting a new business is exciting and exhilarating, but worrying about bills can distract from giving your business the time it needs to flourish and grow.
We’re guilty of being London-centric over this way. What are we missing in East Anglia? What’s the food & drink scene like there?
I’ve been fortunate enough to live in cities like Manchester, Dubai and Brisbane, so have experienced my fair share of city dwelling and dining. But there’s something different about country life and this region.
We have an abundance of stunningly located pubs that serve restaurant quality meals, local gin distilleries, and plenty of farmers markets showcasing regional food and drink. The beautiful cities of Cambridge and Norwich have many on-trend cafes, bars, and independent micro-breweries. And let’s not forget the stunning heritage coastlines in Norfolk and Suffolk where there’s always an array of freshly caught seafood served in many of the coastal towns.
There’s certainly a strong sense of being local and proud that has been taken to the next level, which is great for our palettes.
Remote working and portfolio work are changing the employment landscape. People don’t need to work in urban centers like they used to. Do you think we’ll see fewer people feel the need to leave country life and make their way to places like London as a result?
I think this is already happening. I’ve been a director of successful consultancy businesses in the UK and Australia that have been built on people working from home. Technology and the cloud have made this much easier to implement.
As an employee, there are huge lifestyle benefits to this. As a business owner though, it’s vital to ensure there’s adequate structures in place to maintain communication, motivation and training for staff. We shouldn’t lose sight of the importance of human contact in a digital age.
Many of the brands we talk to have seen their costs rise in the wake of the Brexit vote. You’ve launched a food & drink brand in the wake of this uncertainty. Are you better prepared as a result? And what effect do you think Brexit will have on the industry?
In much of life, I tend not to be a risk taker. I don’t bet or gamble, but I always believe in taking opportunities when they present themselves. There’s always going to be a reason not to do something, the key is to see beyond that.
The vote has been cast, and it appears Brexit will happen. Some of our costs may have gone up compared to pre-Brexit, but on a positive note, is there a better time to launch a business that’s passionate about using and promoting local and national produce?
And if we could have one cold-press juice and one smoothie from Fox & The Field, what should we have?
That’s like asking to choose your favourite child! But if I had to pick, it’d be the Costa Del Suffolk juice, and the Very Berry Smoothie. Both so tasty and full of seasonal and local ingredients.