Rachel Ho is co-founder and director of Craving Coffee and the founder and editor of this very blog, Women in Tottenham. Amy Bush met up with her to find out how it all started.
Where are you from and what is your background?
I’m from Adelaide in Australia. It’s one of the smaller cities in Australia, a population of maybe a million. I grew up there and stayed until my late 20’s and then my husband, Matt, and I went to live in Canada for a year. My Dad is English and my sister and brother both live in the UK so we’d also spent a lot of time here. We decided we wanted to move to London and I have UK citizenship so in 2010 we came to Tottenham. We loved Tottenham and really connected with the area.
My background is quite varied. My passion has always been music; I played in bands for 20 years and was involved in the indie scene: touring, producing, promoting. But I’ve not had much time to dedicate to that since Craving Coffee, and having a child! On a professional level I worked in disability for twelve years prior to opening Craving Coffee.
You opened Craving Coffee in 2014. Why Tottenham and why coffee?
I started the business with my husband who was working in coffee at the time and had experience across pretty much the whole industry; he’d worked as a barista, in roasting, account management and barista training. With his experience in the coffee industry, and my background in events, HR and the more behind the scenes activities, we had a great combination of skills to approach the project.
Photo by Adam Weatherly: Rachel and her husband Matt founded Craving Coffee
We wanted Craving Coffee to be in Tottenham because it was our home and at the time there was nowhere else like it in the area. Our aim was to create a place that we would want to go to ourselves.
Craving Coffee is more than just a coffee shop. How would you describe it?
I like to see it as a bit of a community and creative hub for people to come and enjoy affordable luxuries. We have a big focus on good quality food, both provided by us, and by the street food traders we invite to come and make their diverse cuisines from around the world as part of our Tottenham Social weekly pop up events. We also aim to provide high quality drinks such as craft beer, nice wines and good cocktails!
The other big thing for us is the exhibition space and artworks with our monthly exhibitions. Also, from late July we’re going to be putting on some music events which is going to be really exciting.
What is the most important thing you’ve learnt since starting your own business? Is there any advice you’d give to someone starting out?
Make sure you look after yourself. Running a new business can take over your whole life so it’s really important to not forget the things you enjoy.
Photo: Rachel and her son Solly.
Having a child makes it even harder, but I’ve got myself into a routine to ensure my life isn’t just about the business; I try to get to bed at a certain time, I exercise and meditate, and I try not to drink too much - especially as I work in an alcohol environment. I think it’s really important to take some time out to relax and allow your brain to process things subconsciously.
Another thing I’ve learnt is to try and not be too reactionary. When you first start out things might get a bit tight and it can be quite scary, but I’ve learnt to step back and look at the bigger picture, rather than reacting straight away. For example, I try not to look at a bad day’s figures, but look across the whole month. I think if you react and make rash decisions you never stay solid to your vision.
Don’t sweat the small stuff and pick your battles! Don’t get bogged down in things that don’t matter. Oh, and finding a good childminder and surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family is essential!
You recently started the Women in Tottenham blog. Why did you decide to do that?
I started Women in Tottenham because I love finding out about people and their stories. I was thinking about things I’m passionate about, and I’m passionate about Tottenham! I wanted to do something which was creative and had community value but didn’t have any specific goals in terms of finance or business; it’s been a bit of a creative outlet.
Also, it seemed very timely in terms of what’s been happening on a world scale with gender equality and the 'Me Too' movement. My Dad brought me up to believe that there’s nothing you can’t do just because you’re a girl. He got me into basketball when I was around five or six. He used to say that if I wanted to play basketball or be a musician or anything like that, that gender didn’t come into it. So when I hear about gender pay differences or people being discriminated against because of race, gender or sexuality, it really shocks me, my brain can’t quite compute why this is happening because I was brought up to believe everyone is equal. So I wanted to do something which highlights the positive things happening in this space.
When the idea popped into my head I immediately thought of about ten women that I knew lived in Tottenham and had really interesting stories and I thought it would be great to provide a platform to share their voices.
You’ve interviewed loads of amazing women for the blog so far. What have been the highlights?
Photo: Rachel and a colleague at the Women In Tottenham's first event.
I think mainly the diversity of the people. I just really love to hear about people and where they’re from: how they grew up, what their parents did, stuff like that. The interesting thing is that there’s not really a clear theme throughout the women - it’s not like they all went to this type of school and all their parents were in that range of professions; everyone has such a unique story. But they are similar in that they are passionate about Tottenham which I find particularly interesting because Tottenham is probably quite different to the places many of them grew up.
Do you have any top tips for someone new to Tottenham?
Obviously Craving Coffee! ;)
Tottenham is interesting because it doesn’t really have a central area, it’s all quite spread out in little pockets so there are places dotted all over the place.
Saturday afternoons are good for the breweries, Beavertown and Pressure Drop around the corner from each other in the Lockwood Industrial Park on Mill Mead Road. Across from us there’s Five Miles. They’ve got their club nights and the eighteen taps with all the different craft beers which is cool for the beer-lovers. Loven pizza is amazing, and they also have their bakery & cafe in Hale Village.
There’s also the High Cross pub in the old public toilets which is really cool. It’s tiny so make sure you get there early! San Marco, the old Italian restaurant in Bruce Grove, that’s a proper old school Italian from the seventies. I also like the Turkish restaurant, Garden House, up towards Bruce Grove, we used to go there all the time when we first moved to Tottenham. The marshes are great to walk around and of course Tottenham Green Market on Sundays is a must.
The new shop located behind Craving Coffee, Piquant is well worth a visit. It’s a lovely shop full of beautiful furniture, homeware and gifts.
Anything you would like to add?
It’s a really interesting time in Tottenham at the moment and I just hope it doesn’t lose what makes it such a good place with all the development going on. Change is good but I hope the area retains its’ diversity and doesn’t become homogenized, that’s my biggest fear for Tottenham.
Craving Coffee can be found in Gaunson House on Markfield Road. For more info and to find out about the Tottenham Social street food pop ups visit their website :