Name: Paris Baker
Job title: National sales executive
Company & location: Soulfresh UK – Lo Bros Living Drinks, London Bridge
Education: Exeter University – politics & international relations
Why did you decide to go for a career in food & drink? I had a food blog during my last year at Exeter and through this, I discovered lots of cool startup brands, one of which was a company called Oppo. I wouldn’t stop emailing them asking for some work experience. Eventually, I became an intern and it was there that I learnt how fun it is to work in the fast-paced, passionate and energetic startup environment.
Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two): To win new business for Lo Bros Kombucha and manage our existing wholesalers – it’s a lot of relationship building. Emails, calls, meetings, trade shows, samplings… it’s people, people, people!
What does a typical day look like for you? Well it is safe to say every day is different, which is one of the reasons I love Soulfresh! However, all days begin early as I am a morning person. A typical day may include new business calls and emails, catching up with one of my accounts – sometimes on the phone or in person, pulling together a P&L for a new account, analysing our sales data, doing a Lo Bros sampling in Planet Organic or Whole Foods and often taste-testing Soulfresh NPD. We are a small team, so it’s all hands on deck.
“In all three of the fmcg companies I have worked at, everyone is there because they love what they do”
Tell us about how you went about applying for your job. I worked with Dom (general manager) and Nat (head of sales) at Bear Nibbles, where I worked as field sales executive. Through them I heard about Lo Bros Kombucha, which they launched in May, and once I tried it, I loved it! I then approached them asking if they might have any room for one more! I had a couple of interviews and in the last one I had to present my wholesale plan for Lo Bros 2018/19.
What’s the best part about working for a food company? I have found that in all three of the fmcg companies I have worked at, everyone is there because they love what they do and for that reason, even when it’s super busy and manic, it doesn’t feel like work. Especially at Soulfresh, the team are amazing – passionate, driven and ambitious.
And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink? A lot of people don’t quite realise how long and tough it can be to gain national listings and win new accounts. It can take months, even years, of persistence and lot of resilience to even get a first meeting. People outside fmcg don’t really understand all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to get food and drinks to their supermarket shelves.
What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry? If you are interested in food & drink, then do it! It’s such an exciting industry, my advice would be to choose a product/brand you believe in, keep your eyes wide open, be proactive and a don’t be scared to say yes to the amazing opportunities that can follow.
What’s your ultimate career dream? To never stop learning!
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