IN THE COMPANY OF: Jessica Wyatt, co-founder of the much-loved Mama Doreen's Emporium in Harrogate

This week, the Harrogate Advertiser speaks to Jessica Wyatt, co-founder of Mama Doreen's Emporium.
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Name: Jessica Wyatt

Company name: Mama Doreen’s Emporium

Job title: Co-Founder

This week we are in the company of Jessica Wyatt, co-founder of Mama Doreen's Emporium in HarrogateThis week we are in the company of Jessica Wyatt, co-founder of Mama Doreen's Emporium in Harrogate
This week we are in the company of Jessica Wyatt, co-founder of Mama Doreen's Emporium in Harrogate

Company address: 9-11 Station Square, Harrogate, HG1 1TB

Company founded: 2009

Number of staff: 40

Mama Doreen's Emporium, offering scrumptious afternoon tea and cupcakes, can be found in HarrogateMama Doreen's Emporium, offering scrumptious afternoon tea and cupcakes, can be found in Harrogate
Mama Doreen's Emporium, offering scrumptious afternoon tea and cupcakes, can be found in Harrogate

In a nutshell, what does your company do and how did it start?

The idea started in 2009 over a bottle of Pinot Grigio.

Mama Doreen’s is a mother and daughter team and we started the business from our kitchen selling on average of ten cupcakes a week to local delis.

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We gradually grew our business and moved to a unit with no windows, a couple of ovens and a little mixer.

From doing market stalls and the Great Yorkshire Show, we eventually moved to Cold Bath Road where we stayed for eight years until we took a risk and took over the beautiful building on Station Square, where we’ve been for four years and couldn’t be more proud of the team and what we’ve created.

What is your role within the business?

I manage a wonderful team, oversee the day to day running of the business, create a menu that customers will love, sales, marketing and making sure the customers have a lovely experience – as well as being a Mum of two little very high demanding boys.

If you weren't doing this, what would you be doing?

Tough question… probably something similar or sales orientated.

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I started working from the age of 12 in my grandparents fish and chip restaurant and I always loved talking to customers, meeting new people and seeing people enjoying themselves.

I worked in an office after University however it wasn’t for me as I missed the buzz that hospitality offers.

What motivates you?

Seeing the customers and the team happy – that’s success in my eyes.

What is one thing that you wish you had known when you started out in business?

That it wasn’t going to be easy.

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We’ve made many mistakes over the years however by making those mistakes it only made us stronger and work harder to create the magic that people like to experience when they walk into the restaurant.

What excites you about business?

Being creative – I love creating a new seasonal afternoon tea and promoting it.

What is your pet hate within business?

The balancing act of being a good employer and a good mummy.

I’m very lucky that I have the support of the team and a very supportive Husband that makes the balancing act a little easier.

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What advice would you give to people just starting their careers?

You need to put the hours in to see the benefits.

If you believe in what you are doing, give it everything you’ve got.

If you get knocked down, dust yourself off and start again – tomorrow is a new day.

Take time to look after yourself, try not to burn yourself out.

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Try to switch off and go for a walk, go to the gym, eat correctly – some of my best ideas came about whilst going for a run.

Who in business do you most admire, and why?

I come from a family of entrepreneurs so they’ve all inspired me in some way.

They taught me to work hard, stay positive and stay focused.

What moments of your career so far stand out?

Starting out and serving our first afternoon tea and seeing the look of joy on peoples faces.

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Getting flown out to LA by Food Network and taking part in a TV show called Cupcake Wars.

Watching thousands of people celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, hen parties and being part of hundreds of weddings.

The joy of looking over the restaurant and seeing customers laughing, smiling and enjoying the food.

On one table you may have a four-year-old celebrating a birthday and on another table someone celebrating a 90th Birthday – knowing that the Emporium is enjoyed by so many.

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Did the Covid-19 pandemic affect your business? If so, how did you adapt during such a tough time and what did you learn?

We were unsure whether we’d be opening the doors again.

I remember on Mother’s Day weekend we had to cancel 800 bookings and we were all sat around a table in the empty restaurant, cancelling them all individually.

We had to think quickly and come up with something to keep the business going so we started doing takeaway afternoon teas and delivering them around the local area.

We invested time on our website to make it an easy process for customers to order.

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As most of our team were on furlough there was a tiny group of us so our families and friends would help prepare and deliver, which we were truly grateful for.

As well as the takeaways, we spent time launching our mini bite cupcakes which are a mini version of our most popular flavours in a cute chocolate box size which were delivered throughout the United Kingdom.

Yes it was a very difficult and challenging time, however I feel blessed that our family and friends were ok and we got through it, plus I learnt how to make a cracking banana bread.

I try not to think about what happened, I focus on the present day and work on what we can do to make Mama Doreen’s the best it can be.

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Is your business currently experiencing any challenges at the moment?

Everyday brings a new challenge.

The dishwasher might break, a member of staff might phone in sick, we may receive a bad review.

Any challenge will create a domino effect, however the main challenge we have is that horrible word that is ‘inflation’.

As the prices go up we are constantly battling with making sure that the product we serve is at a high quality, affordable for the customer and sustains profitability.

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Everyday you are trying to resolve and create a new solution to overcome the obstacles whilst making sure this is unnoticed among the customers.

The customers that walk through the doors may be going through their own challenges in life and we want to make sure that when people walk through the doors they can forget about what is going on in the outside world and be welcomed with a smile and enjoy lovely food.

Have you got a five-year plan for the company?

You never know what challenges are around the corner.

We hope to be still making customers happy, creating new products and hopefully grow the business so we can expand our team.

Our dream is to open up another tearoom in Yorkshire and fingers crossed this will happen within the next five years.

Why is it good to do business in Harrogate?

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We love Harrogate and there are so many fantastic businesses to work with.

I love collaborating with local businesses and helping local charities.

It’s such a lovely community to be a part of and I am very proud to say that I am from Harrogate.