By Lisa Moles and Simon Pickess
When we came to Canada in 2007, we knew we wanted to own our own business in the food industry, but we were not sure what exactly we were looking for. After a lot of research, we ended up signing the papers to become the first Copper County Foods franchisees in the country.
My sister and I were born in Birmingham, England. My mom was a hairdresser and a very sociable person. I never had the desire to be a hairdresser myself, but I spent a lot of time in the salons and I loved all the customers.
My father worked for Cadbury at the original factory in Bournville, Birmingham. I remember he would come home after work and instead of smelling like oil from working on cars all day like the other fathers, he would come home smelling of chocolate!
Both of my parents worked extremely hard and saved for everything they wanted. They had a fantastic work ethic.
I attended a junior school until I was 11 years old. Sports were not a favourite activity of mine and I would do anything I could to avoid them. However, I did participate in activities like dance class and was part of Brownies and Girl Guides until I was about 13.
It was then that I went abroad for the very first time with my school. I went on a skiing holiday in Italy. That definitely gave me the travel bug and I think it probably opened my eyes and awakened some different senses when it came to food. I remember smelling things I had never smelled before, like the cheeses, strong tomato sauces and the herbs the Italians use.
At age 16, I attended secondary school. I was there for two years, and then finally moved to sixth-form college. I loved English literature class and the sciences. Although I enjoyed home economics and needlework, I wanted to push myself at school, so I kept my subjects pretty academic.
I have always been an avid reader and enjoy doing puzzles. I especially like fixing things, which probably comes from my dad. If something breaks in the house, I will try and fix it before I throw it away and buy a new one. It is a bit of a challenge for me.
Much of my social life growing up as a young adult revolved around the British pub culture. I had a big social network and there was always something going on.
As I grew up, I realized my mom was very supportive of school and only wanted me to do my best. This made me realize education was important, so I attended Birmingham College of Food until I was 23 years old. I stayed there as long as I could to work out what I wanted to do.
I started off doing speech therapy, but after a year I realized although I still wanted to work with people, it was not in that capacity. So I transferred to the hotel and catering program the following year and started working on a new four-year degree program.
After graduation, finding a job was not so easy, but I was lucky to be given a chance to work in an accounting office, where I put a lot of finance theory into practice. That year gave me a much better understanding of profit and loss and balance sheets.
When I turned 25, I got a job with the City of Birmingham as a head cook. I ran two kitchens and was in charge of feeding 600 children each day. I did this for a year and it taught me about leading a team of people in two different locations. When I first joined, the team’s morale was very low. Over the course of the year, I managed to sort things out and get the kitchen staff back on its feet.