Forming in 2014, mobile crêpe-making company La Crêperie has grown in the last eight years and as current owners Milly Butters and Sam Howard are graduating this year, it is again free to be taken over. As a fully student-run business, it provides a unique opportunity for students wishing to experience both the fun and responsibility of owning their own business which they are free to expand and transform as they wish.
The origin of La Crêperie lies in its creation by two students and subsequent transfers to new duos, with Milly and Sam beginning work as helpers for the business before deciding to continue it together when the previous owners graduated, much as they are looking to do now. The business itself consists of a food stand which caters student events from balls to themed Union events. Either through reaching out to event coordinators, or inquiries being made to them, La Crêperie has catered numerous events over the past eight years including Starfields, Szentek, Welly Ball, and House of Horror. On their website, they speak specifically of filling the “crêpe-sized hole left in the hearts of people of St Andrews” which many people can attest to after arriving at a ball scanning the room for the food (particularly if in some cases it is free).
One of the defining features of the business is no doubt in its flexibility, providing services on an event-by-event basis which allows them to cater to the demands of the organisers. Event coordinators can request pre-orders wherein they pay for guests to get free crêpes, or the business can sell directly to customers. It fills the niche gap required for student events in St Andrews, which are frequent but also diverse and thus have different desires and needs. Many of the venues where balls or large-scale events take place aren’t equipped to cater to the amount of people who wish to attend, making the business ideally designed to provide a much-needed service.
The business is also defined by its commitment to sustainability. The use of eco-friendly packaging along with changing the batter recipe to reduce food waste reflect the desire of the business to progress and improve to reduce their environmental impact. Of the profits made, five to ten per cent go to charity, notably through donations to Candrews or charities affiliated with the event being catered. Thus, the business already has a solid ethos of environmental sustainability and reflects the charitable aims of many St Andrews events which, though they prioritise creating an enjoyable night, also seek to use their profits to benefit the community and other larger charities.
In owning a completely student-run business, the new owners would control and be responsible for every aspect of preparation and delivery, making batter, transferring equipment, sales, and tax returns. It would be a valuable insight into the real-world knowledge of running a business and, if Milly and Sam’s experience is anything to speak for, it is clear that they have been provided with a completely unique student experience. There is obviously a clear and serious benefit to taking on such a role, notably the appearance of owning a successful business on your CV. This demonstrated the numerous skills required to run a profitable business, in particular for La Crêperie as they sold over £8,000 worth of crêpes last semester alone. Thus, it is also financially beneficial, but can also improve communication skills by reaching out to events and learning to juggle not just the multiple responsibilities involved in the business, but also life as a working student.
Beyond the skills that can be improved and gained, the fun of the business shone through in Milly and Sam’s stories of their experiences. The unparalleled access to student events which has allowed them to attend many which they may not have got tickets to and also to experience them in a way like no other attendees. In setting up and staying beyond the event, they have been able to see Kinkell Byre by daylight and have mini parties to themselves when events are over. Despite the obvious responsibility involved, the excitement of being able to take on this role is special in that very few other students are able to see the behind-the-scenes of the iconic and traditional St Andrews events. The joy of watching something you worked hard on succeed is another rewarding aspect of the business, which was especially evident in their first event with Starfields last year which despite being quiet at the beginning, became one of their biggest events. Here again, the need to sell and make a profit never took away from the ultimate enjoyment of the experience, and the success they have achieved is a promising sign for any prospective future owners.
In searching for their successors, Milly and Sam are open to any applicants with the self-motivation and organisation skills to reach out to people and events. Between them as students of International Relations, Philosophy, and Psychology, no previous business experience is required or even future ambitions to go into business. Although they had both previously had catering jobs, they both described the experience as learning on the job, “muddling through” until it began to feel “automatic”. Passion and dedication supersede any traditional qualifications. The only real recommended requirement is that there ideally should be two owners to take over as all previous owners have worked in pairs, balancing out the workload and complementing each other's interests as the roles are so varied, from the finances and communications to social media and decorations. Working in a pair seems to be integral to both the effectiveness of the business but especially to maximise the fun and minimise the stress.
To have maintained a successful business under three different pairs of owners over eight years is already an admirable achievement but looking to the future Milly and Sam hope that it will continue long into the future. Both spoke of the desire to see the business continuing to thrive five to ten years, an ambitious but also realistic goal if there are students willing to take on the responsibility, but also relish in the joy of owning a completely student-originated and run business. The new owners are free to grow the business in their own way, making it their own and adapting it to suit their interests just as Milly and Sam have done.
For potential applicants, it is important to note that Milly and Sam as current owners are flexible to offers, open to proposals to buy the business outright, or to make agreements for partial ownership. There is also the option to buy without a lump sum fee, meaning that anyone with any interest or questions at all can contact them via the La Crêperie Facebook page or through the emails below. Running a student business is a unique opportunity and La Crêperie specifically had eight years of success already that deserves to be continued into the future.
For more information contact:
Sam Howard: firstname.lastname@example.org
Illustration: Sarah Knight
Image: La Crêperie