To say Annem Hobson loves cheese is an understatement! This Tottenham woman invented the Cheese Advent Calendar and the Cheester Egg, and through her blog So Wrong It's Nom, Annem's cheesy ideas have become viral internet sensations with her products sold around the world. Rachel Ho caught up with Annem to find out more ahead of her calendar kicking off in December!
Annem Hobson Founder of So Wrong is Nom : Photo by Andre Ainsworth
Where did you grow up and what did your parents do?
I grew up in Buckinghamshire, in a town called Aylesbury as the daughter of first generation immigrants who moved here in the 70s. After working in various jobs, my father set up his first food business in 1985 selling freshly made kebabs from a food truck, which, with the help from my mother, grew from strength to strength. He eventually moved into permanent premises, and my early memories are helping run small errands for him during the summer holidays and weekends!
What is your relationship to Tottenham?
I moved to Tottenham seven years ago, and my husband has been here for nearly then. Tottenham well and truly feels like home to me, and all my favourite memories and achievements are tied to this area. It’s one of the first places I’ve lived where popping to a café means bumping into a friendly face, and ending up in a ten minute natter. It’s rare to get such a strong sense of community in such a large city.
Tell us about So Wrong It's Nom. What is it and how did is start?
I’ve always loved eating and talking about food, so a few years ago my friends and family encouraged me to start a blog so that I could have an outlet for my thoughts. So Wrong It's Nom doesn’t take itself too seriously. I tend not to write serious restaurant reviews or consider myself a critic. Instead, I write fun features on topics I find fascinating and create challenges that pair ingredients you would never think of putting together (turning the wrong into nom, gerrit?) The blog has grown considerably over the last few years, and I’m now a regular commentator on food stories for BBC radio and talkRADIO. It’s now also become a business in its own right, due to the success of the products I’ve been selling.
Annem with her Cheese Advent Calendar : Photo by Andre Ainsworth
Your Cheese Advent Calendar seems to be a hit! How did it come about?
In November 2015, we were brainstorming Christmas ideas for the blog and wondered if a Cheese Advent Calendar existed. Upon researching, we realised that nobody had tried it. Not even as a one off marketing stunt. We immediately went to Hobbycraft, and I wrote a DIY, ‘how to make your own Cheese Advent Calendar’ post and shared it on my social media channels. That week it went viral, picked up by the likes of The Metro, Comedy Central and even stateside on Good Morning America! That is when the lightbulb moment came. We knew if we could demonstrate the demand, we would be able to pitch it to suppliers and retailers.
We bought the URL cheeseadventcalendar.com and asked people to pledge their support to the #CheeseNotChoc campaign. It began trending on Facebook, and over 11,000 signed up in 4 days alone. That following year, we worked hard getting a cheese supplier on board and had to learn everything from contracts, trademarks, relationships with buyers and more. A company called Norseland collaborated with me to bring it to market, and it’s now in its second year being sold in Asda and Sainsbury’s stores nationwide, France, Denmark, Portugal and Target stores in the United States!
The Cheester Egg : Photo by Andre Ainsworth
I also collaborated with the wonderful Tottenham based Wildes Cheese in 2017 and launched a Cheester Egg which was a runaway success and sold out in under one week. I’m now working to diversify the range of So Wrong It’s Nom products in my portfolio and would love to build it into the “Hotel Chocolat of cheese” one day. ;) These cheesy inventions are hopefully a great example of how even random and wacky ideas can become a business!
As a woman, how do you think the Tottenham has changed? What would you like to see change?
As a woman, Tottenham is nothing short of fantastic when it comes to the example of female leaders. It’s inspiring seeing so many strong women build their business from the ground up. From Geanina who runs Prestige Patisserie, to Holly at Wine and Rind, Naomi at SushiHeads, Neri at Downhills Park Café and so many more! The list is endless as the people in this area have a real entrepreneurial flair. Perhaps it’s contagious! ;)
Over the last five years, Tottenham has become the place to be and I hope this continues to improve the area positively, whilst retaining its culture. For years, Tottenham has been home to people from lots of different backgrounds, and that is what made me fall in love with it in the first place.
Favourite thing to do in Tottenham?
So many things, where should I start? Summer walks to the marshes, eating cheese and cake at Holcombe Market. The list of things to do and see is increasingly growing, but it’s hanging out in area where I’ve made so many friends that makes it enjoyable.
Photo by Paul Clarke.
Anything you would like to add?
Merry Cheesemas ;)
Find out more about Annem Hobson and her cheesy ideas: