This past winter, on a cold and rainy day, I took a walking food tour through Sweet Tooth Tours with a friend. Our guide, Lynne Staartjes, made the experience so much fun that we very quickly forgot about the weather. We literally ate our way through Chelsea and Belgravia. I can’t think of a better way to see London or anywhere, for that matter! Food is such a important part of our lives and it creates memories. The tour I took with Lynne stayed with me and I’ve gone back to many of the places we visted many times.
When I decided to start this series, I reached out to Lynne and she kindly agreed to do this interview for me. I am so grateful to her for her time.
The following interview is in her own words. I asked the questions and she answered them. Without further delay…
Business Name: Sweet Tooth Tours
Where is your business located: around London! Main tour routes are Belgravia and Soho.
Brief description of your business: The concept is small group walking tours to London’s best independent bakeries, chocolate shops, cheesemongers, gelaterias and more. Of course tasitng samples are included! Guests learn about the products tasted, the shop and it’s founder(s) in addition to the stories and history of the local area.
What do you do on a typical day: Most of my tours are in the afternoons so I spend the mornings catching up on admin. A few days a week I try to fit in the gym or yoga—balance is key when I am surrounded by so many sweets! Morning admin is everything from accounting to planning out the next tour routes and occasionally even taste testing for new stops. Evenings are usually spent checking out a new restaurant with my husband.
Why did you decide to get into this business: I have always had a sweet tooth and this led me to train as a pastry chef. After working at two pastry shops in Belgravia, I noticed a gap in the market. I feel lucky that I’ve been able to combine my passions of baking, travel and meeting new people. I started the business in July 2017 and haven’t looked back since.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received: Pursue your passion and success will follow.
What job would you be terrible at: Anything to do with music. I can’t even manage to sing ‘happy birthday’ in tune!!
Name a woman who inspires you: Julia Child
Why does she inspire you: Like me, she also studied at Le Cordon Bleu. But most importantly she made French cuisine accessible. She was one of the first prominent women in the food-world and her passion for cooking remains contagious.
Favorite part about your job: Giving the tours. I absolutely love sharing my passion with so many fascinating guests. I really enjoy getting to know each of the guests over the course of the tour and shaping the experience to their interests. I have been lucky to meet such a diverse group of people and have the opportunity to explore and indulge together. Taste testing for new stops would have to be another highlight of the job!
Least favorite part about your job: Admin and especially accounting. There is a lot of work behind the scenes to make everything happen (legally) and a lot of it isn’t very fun…
If you could go back five years in time, what advice would you give yourself: Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. It’s easy to get bogged down in the tiny details and ‘sweat the small stuff’ but in the end I always need to remember the bigger purpose and goal.
Favorite location for a holiday: I have been lucky to travel widely but Italy remains ones of my favourites. There are so many places to see, the people are friendly, the food is amazing and generally the weather is quite good too! Bonus points go for the gelato.
Favorite food: This would have to be ice cream! Chocolate mousse is a close second. I love so many desserts but there is something special about ice cream that I just can’t resist. Perhaps it’s the memories of an afternoon treat on a warm summer day?
Favorite drink: Does a peanut butter milkshake count?
Favorite time of day: Dinner. It’s a great time to debrief and slow down after a busy day. I love how food brings people together.
Favorite way to relax: A small piece of a good dark chocolate and a bubble bath, ideally after a day in the sun!
The best time to visit London: Without a doubt May and June. Days are long and the city is buzzing. Chelsea flower show is a particular highlight—Belgravia, Chelsea and Knightsbridge are positively blooming around this time with many local stores participating in a floral window display contest.
What is one thing people shouldn’t miss when visiting London: A Sweet Tooth Tour! It’s a great way to experience a local side of London that you wouldn’t get from typical tourist sites or restaurants.
Advice for women looking to create their own businesses: Don’t overthink things. I remember that in the beginning I wanted everything to be perfect before launching or giving the first tour but at some point I just had to start or else it would never get off the ground. Business (regardless of the field) is constantly evolving and it’s important to be agile and act quickly to stay relevant and ahead of the competition. It’s a good idea to write down your goals in the beginning especially for the first year of business and to look back at it often. You’ll realise that you’ve accomplished more than you think!
Whether you plan on visiting London or already live in London, please consider taking a Sweet Tooth Tour especially if you’re looking for a unique and super fun experience. Be sure to bring your appetite! This would make a fantastic gift and would be fabulous for a group of friends to do, together.
I need your help and feedback! Pretty please!
I am so, so, so excited about this new series that I’m trying out. I hope it takes off because I’d love to be able to make it a regular feature. But I need to know if you would like to see more interviews like this. I think it will be a fun way to get to get to know women behind the their businesses.
Thank you for your support!
Sweet Tooth Tours website: http://sweettoothtours.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.