Tell us about your family
My two sisters and I run Shepherds Markets, The Good Food Market dedicated to providing London with the highest quality food and crafts. Each of us brings different expertise to the business. My sister Alex is a qualified doctor who spends her annual leave helping to run the markets. My eldest sister Fi, also a doctor, looks after marketing for Shepherds Markets, and is also mother to eight month old Sophia. Her former engineer and commercial pilot husband Janak keeps things in check at the markets and has helped shape the new website design. This is of course all under the watchful eye of my mother Maria, who helps out with the administrative side of things.
Shepherds Markets is a true family run business, we tend to share the roles which include selecting traders, managing the markets, layout, health and safety documentation and social media. We also ensure that at least one person is at every market.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?
I grew up with an understanding and appreciation for high quality food, as my family background was in grocery stores. Whilst studying clinical neuroscience at Kings College London, I began helping my father with the running of the food markets. I enjoyed it so much that eventually I began working full time, helping to establish new markets and becoming specialized in food safety after completing a Masters degree in Environmental health. I now act as an environmental health consultant for Shepherds Markets – my job spans a number of different roles but I am ultimately focussed on helping small traders succeed.
When did you launch?
Shepherds Markets launched in 2005, with the aim of encouraging the growth of start-ups and small businesses by offering them a platform from which to grow and prosper. My sisters and I are the driving force of the business and are now responsible for the running of 17 markets across London, creating a business community where our over 60 traders can share advice and support each other’s growth.
How did you get started?
My father John set up the business in 2005, by setting up a market outside his shop as a way of bringing something new and exciting to the area. Following on from its success, in 2008 the idea was transported to the Brunswick Centre near Russell Square to rejuvenate the area and from there the idea of Shepherds Markets grew. Shepherds Markets now has 17 markets across London, which are not only popular but also recognised to be sustainable, ethical and community building.
What’s your favourite thing about running your own business?
Running your own business allows you to enjoy the freedom to make decisions as well as head-up projects you are truly passionate about. Markets don’t just provide customers with exciting alternatives, but offer small businesses and start-ups insight into their customers whilst providing the platform to really test the market. With relatively low start-up costs and overheads, setting up a market stall is fairly straight forward, allowing you to sell the products that you are passionate about. For me this is the most rewarding aspect of our business, watching our traders’ brands grow and achieve success – all fuelled by a real love of good food. Organising markets has its challenging aspects though; we have to be on hand to manage fast moving situations and often come up against bad weather!
What has worked well about your business?
In recent years the popularity of food markets has really taken off across London and the UK. More and more people are searching for original and interesting products, which markets offer in abundance – adding to their continued growth and popularity. As such small businesses and start-ups are recognising markets as a very useful means of launching products and growing their businesses. At Shepherds Markets we aim to emphasise the importance of market stalls to UK start-ups, who can use them as a test pad for product development, packaging and taste as well as to gain first-hand consumer feedback. Our markets have been well received in our London locations, and have attracted very high quality traders which we are proud to showcase and celebrate. We have recently expanded beyond the capital with two trial markets in Reading and Ealing, and currently have over 60 traders within our ‘market family’.
How do you fit in work with the family?
The whole of our family is involved in some extent with the running of the business, and we all enjoy being able to be a part of it and contribute our individual expertise. As a family we try to share the work as much as possible whilst retaining our distinctive roles which helps the business to run smoothly. We have also created a family rule, no one is allowed to mention Shepherds Markets on Sundays, otherwise it would be all we ever spoke about! I can’t imagine doing anything else and I feel lucky to have such a rewarding job, even when times get tough.
Have you had your ‘I’ve made it’ moment? Tell us about it. If not when do you think it will come
As a family we feel such a sense of achievement every time a business we have supported, achieves its aspirations, or whenever we receive positive feedback about our work from traders and customers- it really helps to fuel our passion to encourage the growth of small businesses.
Where do you hope to be in five years’ time?
In five years’ time we hope to have expanded our business to help even more start-up businesses establish themselves and prosper, by being recognised as the go to place to launch a start-up artisan business.
Shepherds Markets; The Good Food Market is a family run business, started by John Shepherd, Managing Director of Partridges, in 2005 and dedicated to providing London with the highest quality food markets. It is run by the three Shepherd Sisters Kitty, Alex and Fi, daughters of John Shepherd as well as Janak Desai, husband of Fi
It aims to cater for all cultures, communities, religions and food sensitivities. We have a huge variety of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free dishes. From our hot food lunches to cold food produce there is always something for everyone!
Shepherds Markets has worked hard to maintain a high level of Food Safety, Quality and Nutrition and values Organic, Free range, Fairtrade, protection of local economies, welfare of animals and welfare of the planet.
Where can you find Shepherds Markets?
• Monday – Piccadilly (St James Church)
• Tuesday – St Thomas More Square (weekly) and Broadgate (fortnightly)
• Wednesday – 1st Wednesday of the month at One New Change (hot and cold food), 2nd Wednesday of the month at Baker Street/Portman Square, 3rd Wednesday of the month at May fair (New Street Square for a few months of the year) and the last Wednesday of the month at Paddington central
• Thursday – Cardinal place (weekly) and 1st Thursday of the month at Regents Place
• Friday – St Katharine’s Dock, One New Change (cold food and crafts)
• Saturday – Brunswick, One New Change (cold food and crafts) and Partridges
• Sunday – currently trialling at Primrose Hill on a monthly basis
• Our quarterly months and events include: Canary Wharf monthly from May to September as well as specific events, Chiswick Park Business Estate monthly in summer and the Primrose Hill Summer and Autumn Fair.