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Start me up podcast 2: The queen of kimchi

Start me up is our series of stories about the side hustle, dedicated to those brave entrepreneurs who left their job to follow their dream.


Freddie Janssen’s life was changed by a snack on an international flight. Her first taste of kimchi, a spicy Korean sauerkraut, started her on a path that led to her giving up a glamorous job in film advertising to spend her days pickling vegetables, first at home for fun, and then expanding into trendy London pickle company F.A.T.

Listen to Freddie’s podcast for the full story, and read some of the business insights she’s picked up along the way.


When did you decide to start a business?

I was working in LA doing big, corporate film advertising and wasn’t really enjoying it. I’d eaten kimchi on a plane and fallen in love with it, and I remember I had a really great meal at a restaurant and the idea occurred that this, food, is actually what makes me happy. So I decided there and then that I wanted to do something food-related and turn it into a business somehow.


What’s been the hardest part of starting your business?

Money and time. Not having time to myself or for my family and friends has been the hardest thing. Especially when I was writing my book, Pickled, I was working every evening and every weekend for six months and didn’t really have a social life, which can drive you mad after a while.


What’s been your biggest business mistake?

I used to just do pickling for the love of it but I think now I’ve grown up a bit. So for instance I did lots of preserving and pickling which I would deliver to shops nearby in East London. I would spend my nights in my house, pickling until three in the morning, printing labels and sticking them on, like a little production line, then getting Ubers to all these shops, because I don’t have a driving licence. But then I’d realise that I’d made about £5 on the entire job.

I make a spreadsheet every time I do something now and I make sure that I’m not just doing it for fun. I even make a spreadsheet when I do a dinner for friends, I’ve become a bit obsessed with spreadsheets.


Have there been any problems you thought were too big to overcome?

Not yet. Whenever I’ve come across something I’m not happy with, I either figure out how to make it work, or change direction. For instance, I used to supply individual shops in the beginning, but now I’ve got much better at saying no to jobs that won’t make money.


What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t be afraid to get going and ask advice from everyone. Because as it turns out, nearly everyone is willing to help, and that’s something I just wasn’t aware of at first. Tips on which suppliers to use, things to get you started. Don’t be proud, just ask for help.


Is there any technology you couldn’t live without?

My laptop and my phone. And the internet. I couldn’t really do anything without them. Instagram is one of the main tools I have to sell what I do. Along with other sites it’s really helped boost the idea of DIY food, making fresh approaches to food and finding new ways for small providers to make a difference, with home brewed beer, pickling and more. Promoting your business online has become like the new normal.



Listen to Freddie’s podcast

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