“Being Ukranian is my superpower”
Alex Markham – Owner of Sndwch
When working in film and TV lost its sparkle, it was food that gave Alex Markham a taste for adventure. Embarking on a second career is now common, lots of people decide to switch to a different path in life, and for anyone who is wondering whether to follow their passion, the message from Alex is ‘Just do it!’.
It was Alex’s posh pot noodle recipe that transformed his kitchen table enterprise into a business, when it was recognised by the Guild of Fine foods in the Great Taste Awards.
“My Tofu and Wild Mushroom Soop was just one of 12 products out of 13,000 awarded three gold stars. This came to the attention of Cotswold Fayre, a speciality food wholesaler and I began supplying lots of independent retailers, garden centres and motorway service stations, the biggest coup for me was being stocked in Selfridges.
Sadly, as with many businesses during the Pandemic, this part of Alex’s story ground to a halt.
“I had worked so hard up to this point, the effort I had put in to building my brand and social media following still had value though, and when General Store, one of my soup stockists lost their sandwich supplier, owner Mital Morar asked me to step in and supply sandwiches, which would be a new line for me, and a new opportunity.
“I rented a kitchen to make sandwiches to supply to the General Store in Ancoats and then began to make sandwiches and soup to all eight of the General Store outlets. Around this time, I also launched the take-away Sunday Roast Company. As a massive fan of a solid Sunday lunch, I couldn’t find a take-away Sunday lunch service during the pandemic, so I started one and delivered to homes through Deliveroo and Uber Eats.
Now Alex is employing 10 staff in his own kitchen and in a concession at the General Store at MediaCity. He is looking forward to introducing new products including breakfast pots, porridge pots and a new soft drinks line called Fzzy. Currently, his design your own breakfast or sandwich ordering option online gives customers the chance to select their own fillings and ingredients.
Alex has established a multi-faceted business with a range of outlets to supply to including retailers, premium coffee shops, caterers, higher education, catering firms and to the NHS and private hospitals.
“My next goal is to open a stand-alone deli sandwich bar and with the support I’ve had from my staff, friends, family and Mital at the General Store, I feel I have a solid foundation to develop my business. An important piece of advice I’ve had is ‘Collaboration trumps competition every single time’ and I think this is so true. We even collaborate with our customers in creating our breakfasts and sandwiches!”
Although there have been challenges for Alex along the way, his passion and creativity burns bright and he’s striving for even greater things.
“For anyone who is considering following their passion and start a new chapter in their work life, my advice would be to JUST DO IT! Lots of people think about why they shouldn’t do it, but trying something out and taking that leap of faith is everything. I believe if you are passionate enough about something it will work. Ask for help, get support, ask questions and talk to people – finding your passion is one thing, but getting support is the magic ingredient to making it happen.”
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“Northern spirit bursts out of MediaCity and you can’t not be inspired by being here. I’ve achieved so much already but I still feel like it’s the beginning. There’s so much opportunity here.”