Name: Hannah McCollum
Where’s home? Putney
Profession: Founder of ChicP
Did you go to university? Yes
If so.. Where did you go, what did you study and how did you do?
Durham – Studied Sociology & Anthropology and a Business Marketing Module – 2:1
Was it necessary in hindsight to what you’re doing now?
Hmm…sort of in terms of the modern ways of living, business world, how we run our lives today. The business marketing was very helpful.
Was it a clear-cut path after you left in terms of what you wanted to do?
Not really – I was always a freelance chef so I carried on doing that after University because I loved it. I wanted to work in the events industry so I did quite a bit of work with events as well as cooking for some of the events but then landed myself in an office job. I absolutely loved the office job – it was a small team and I learnt a huge amount while getting to do some incredible things. I think that experience was very important and beneficial. It was after 15 months that I started to feel unsatisfied and that things were getting a little stale so I tested the idea of ChicP, received some good reception and thought I’d get up and leave and give it a go…
What pressures do you think many twenty-something’s are faced with?
I think at the beginning of your 20’s a lot of people don’t actually know what they want to do. The pressure of getting a job (and a good one!) can be difficult if you’re unsure and the one thing I was adamant about was not accepting a job that I didn’t want to do – I looked around for a long time and was lucky that I could because if I needed money I would just go and cook for a few weeks. Friends and family might push you into getting a job as soon as you can but I would advise you to just wait those extra few weeks or months…I even did a gap year no.2 after University!
How did the idea for your company come about?
Over the last 9 years, I have cooked for catering and events companies and as a private chef in the UK and Europe. Having witnessed the colossal amounts of food waste at catering events, I felt driven to respond. While cooking as a private chef, time and time again I would convert leftover vegetable dishes into dips for the next meal. Nearly every day the question would be “What’s the dip of the day Hannah?!” From that and consistently turning my roast veg into dips at home after work – I thought that there was a lack of healthy, delicious hummus on the market (and no such thing as sweet hummus!) so that’s how ChicP came about…
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced in setting up ChicP?
Consistently having to make hummus!!
Having a chilled product is not easy.. A short shelf life makes life difficult for everything – from selling to clients and events- all the hummus has to be made last minute.
Using surplus vegetables is also another challenge because I have to seek time sourcing the surplus. Both these challenges have made it harder to find a manufacturer, but both these challenges are what make my product and therefore I think that they are there for a good reason! Without these challenges it would be less hard work but less satisfying.
Who did you seek advice from and who really helped you in the early stages?
I seeked advice from a lot of other food startups who have been amazingly supportive. I couldn’t believe how friendly and helpful the people in this industry have been – they’ve all been through it and were happy to point you in the right direction, give you contacts, advice on what and what not to do. I can’t thank them enough.
What do you have to remain consistent about in running your company?
Reaching out to people all the time… constantly getting the brand out there and pushing for the next stage. The other part that is obviously consistent is making the hummus!
Do you ever doubt yourself that you could do it?
Yes occasionally! I think what the hell am I doing sometimes – It’s not going to work with this or that… but who cares, I’ve had the best time and whatever happens, the experience I’ve had, people I’ve met and what I’ve learnt cannot be taken away!
How do you market yourselves?
I reach out to quite a few people in the foodie industry for events and collaborations. The more events I go to, the more people try and hear about ChicP and often from these events, other people get in contact with me, which leads onto more marketing.
What do you wish you had known then that you know now?
That chilled distribution is a huge challenge That everything takes longer than you expect That when you launch into stores, it is even harder work – maintaining sales, sampling in stores,
Any mishaps disasters along the way?
Waiting a long time for a manufacturer and then realising they weren’t going to be able to do it… 4/5 months gone where I could’ve done it with someone else!!
Have you ever shed a few tears of frustration?
I don’t think I’ve actually cried… although maybe once after Taste of London when the flat was covered with so much ChicP stuff and I just didn’t have the energy to sort it all out – my mum had also dropped the entire huge jar of roasted nuts all up my stairs!
What advice would you give other twenty-something’s who are thinking of pursuing a career in this field?
I think if you’ve got your idea and you have done your research and think there’s a gap in the market for it – then go for it!! If it’s what’s going to make you happy (you’ve got to love what you do!) then it’s 100% worth it.
What do you think the next steps are for you?
I would like to approach larger retailers towards the end of this year. Food service is a big area for ChicP. I am doing trials to help extend my shelf life, which will help enable me to work with the distributors that work in this area.
What has been your best moment so far?
One great moment was winning the Best Convenience Food Innovation Award for the World Food Innovation Awards last year. Otherwise my launch with Wholefoods
Are you sick of chickpeas?
Nope… I get sick of my own hummus from time to time but still pretty much addicted.
What’s the dream?
I’d love ChicP to be available Nationwide, using surplus directly from British Farmers as well as working with the multiples and using their rejects. I would also love for ChicP to be produced in other neighbouring countries, using the surplus from their farmers, markets, juice companies etc.. I want to help the problem of food waste, while supporting growers as well as making people more aware of the problems of food waste and how customers can make a difference at home too.
To find the ChicP website click here
To find the ChicP instagram page click here