Our start-up story, as featured in LiveMagazine Sept 2018

 
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We were delighted to share our store with the fantastic editors of the Live series of magazines (circulated throughout the NW) recently. Emma Rawlinson penned the below to give some insight into our start up story, and you can read the full article below. Images by Robyn Swain Photography. 

It’s hard to picture how hosting a pizza party at home could transpire into a hugely successful business. But sharing a love of the Italian food is exactly what got the brain whirring of Amy and Chris Cheadle.

The married couple from leafy Lancashire have been quietly working away to become a big noise on the food scene.

In fact, if you buy ready-made dough from any one of 1,000 supermarket retailers, including Waitrose and online grocery store Ocado, then there’s a fair chance you eat the tastiest and freshest home-made pizza thanks to the Northern Dough Co.

Baking was in the blood for Chris, with three generations of his family founding and developing a family bakery business. Having met at university Amy and Chris realised early on they shared a passion for starting a food-orientated business together. 

In 2011, shortly after their wedding, they founded the Northern Dough Co with the aim of creating products to take the hassle out of making authentic pizza at home.

With such a strong family focus, the couple also intended to bring people together with their brand so families, couples and friendship groups could share the experience of making pizza with their favourite toppings.

The Northern Dough Co officially launched at Clitheroe Food Festival seven years ago. Chris specifically remembers the build-up to the day and commented: “We were confident with our calculations on stock required for the event but it ended up being complete chaos. 

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“We had ten members of our family behind a two metre stand with our dough and a huge amount of toppings to get across what our product was all about. We sold out of our whole day’s stock in just one hour!”

“We had ten members of our family behind a two metre stand with our dough and a huge amount of toppings to get across what our product was all about. We sold out of our whole day’s stock in just one hour!”

“A quick trip to the bakery to grab all the freshly made product and we were back selling our dough to the crowds but we sold out of that too and had nothing left.

“It was at that point when we realised that the Northern Dough Co had legs. People went mad for it.”

Chris later gave up his day job optimising other peoples’ businesses to start his own. Contacting farm shops and building a network of small suppliers across the North West. The pair appeared at food festivals and farmers markets at the weekend to spread the word, while Amy also worked as account director at an agency dedicated to providing shopper insights and marketing strategy in London.

Among those early challenges of having enough stock to meet demand was the complexities of running a business as a couple.

Amy said: “Even when you have a realistic outlook, it’s impossible to understand the full impact setting up a business has on your everyday life.

“We were like ships in the night, me travelling down to London and back up and Chris investing all of his time into getting the Northern Dough Co valued by suppliers and customers too.”

Soon enough the brand managed to secure orders from Booths supermarket who were extremely supportive. Amy’s invaluable career experience meant that Waitrose and Ocado followed closely to list the company and soon The Northern Dough Co became a shopper’s favourite.

This pattern of success meant that the Northern Dough Co received word that they were to meet the sales team from Sainsbury’s.

Having only given birth to their second child eight weeks earlier, Amy and Chris, travelled to London on the train with their new-born to the meeting.

“That period of time was such a blur” said Amy. 

“Any new parent will completely understand that sleep deprivation, plus the upheaval of having a little baby to give your everything to, can leave you in a bit of a fog. 

“We just didn’t have a better chance to get in front of the team at Sainsbury’s so we had to go for it. 

“I remember breastfeeding my son, passing him to a family member and then walking in and switching my brain from mum to entrepreneur within a flash.”

That meeting lasted under an hour but it was a whole year before Amy and Chris were given the news that their dough was to feature in Sainsbury’s stores across the nation. 

Since it’s humble beginnings, the company has developed and grown to the extent it now makes enough dough per week to reach the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and more than half a million people are using their product in households across the UK.

However, its roots remain firmly planted in the North of England. Each box of pizza dough has a huge team involved behind the scenes. From John (Chris’ uncle) who head’s up the bakery and also helped develop the original recipes, to the team who pack the boxes ready for delivery.

In 2018, the company reached it’s seventh anniversary which has been marked by a campaign of ‘little surprises’ to thank all those who have been involved in it’s success to date. 

From free pizza pop-ups at supermarkets to treats for staff and customers, the Northern Dough Co has celebrated the support it has received.

The next chapter is equally as exciting and challenging. The company is to grow into a larger business, renowned by customers and secure further listings in well-known retailers. Amy has recently left her full-time job to give full attention to the business she shares with Chris.

Amy commented: “We are looking at putting resources into product development within the frozen bakery category, giving shoppers an exciting reason to visit the often-neglected area of the store that we’re hugely passionate about.

“Expanding our range while remaining committed to fresh freezer produce is the best way to keep our recipes entirely natural but still deliver convenience.”

Everything Amy and Chris have achieved to date has been a team effort. They co-own, co-habit and co-parent. That’s why the Northern Dough Co, will continue to thrive.

Andy Roberts