Leaving what you’ve known to follow a dream is something many people wish they could do, but few can. The security of knowing what you know and having a safe and comfortable job is a necessity – through the pandemic and the cost of living crisis. Deciding to quit such a job would be a risky move, but if you think you can do more, it might be worth it.
For Lauren O’Donnel, 30, the pandemic has given her a chance to fully commit to her dream. At 28, Lauren quit her job in the financial industry – where she worked for four years – to pursue something she loved: overnight oats. While working in finance, she discovered that there would be days when she would go without breakfast – or finding a healthy breakfast was a tough question.
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She told MyLondon: “I used to always make my breakfast the day before work. However, that’s not always doable because some nights you’re tired and sometimes you just can’t be. Then, when you came to work, it would be impossible to find a healthy, on-the-go breakfast that you could just grab at your desk.”
Before Lauren quit her job at Canary Wharf in the financial sector, she attended an Enterprise Nation session for budding entrepreneurs. While there, she gave them samples of the breakfast she had prepared – they were warmly welcomed and people were clamoring to buy it from her. This is what gave him the inspiration to create what we now know as Oatsu.
“Going to meetings and seeing how much people liked my breakfast gave me the confidence to make it my business. That’s how Oatsu was born. The goal is to make healthy breakfast easily accessible without compromising on taste or quality. They are literally the oatmeal I used to make for my own breakfast to work with. But now it’s for everyone. world and everyone,” Lauren added.
After deciding to make her oats a business, Lauren, with the help of her mother, began selling her oats made in her kitchen. An environmental safety officer came to check their kitchen and received a 5* rating for their hygiene and food safety. From there, they built a brand and sold to customers through Instagram.
Lauren would receive the orders, then she and her mother would prepare and package them. She would then travel from their home in Mill Hill, northwest London, and take public transport to where she needed to go. Orders came in from all over London as well as from Kent and Brentwood in Essex.
She said: “Having to keep up with the demand was difficult at first and quite stressful. I remember going to Brentwood after taking the train and then walking up a long hill with about 30 pots of oats in it. my backpack; it was difficult. My mother helped with the preparation, but everything else was up to me.
“After continuing to grow, we eventually partnered with a courier service that allowed us to deliver nationally. In January 2022, we partnered with Jiffy to have our oats available almost instantly and delivered direct on your doorstep in London. This added increased demand as at present we continue to do everything in the kitchen, luckily I was able to hire staff to help me.”
Lauren thanks her mother for her support and for giving her the extra push to go. Quitting her job was a brave decision, but one that seems to have worked out well and she is grateful for all that her mother has done to help her. Today, Oatsu has delivered over 12,500 pots to over 1,300 customers. Oatsu is also the #1 and #3 bestselling breakfast product on Jiffy.
In June, Lauren plans to outsource production to a London-based manufacturer. This will lead to the production of more jars and the end of making oats in his mother’s kitchen.
“We started making 25 jars a week, which has now grown to over 450 jars produced every week. It’s crazy to see. I’m forever grateful to my mom for helping me, letting me move in and for letting me use his kitchen to do this. We hope to soon be able to outsource the manufacturing and move the operation away from the kitchen, which will see our sales increase rapidly.
“It’s become a part of my life – spending every day making them and I love having that personal touch with the production part of the process, so I’m going to miss that. I made sure to build a good relationship with our manufacturer so they know exactly what we want so our customers continue to get the product they love.”
My name is Ayokunle (Ayo for the most part) and I’m a community reporter at MyLondon, covering community stories around London and human interest stories. I started in October 2021 and since then have covered a range of topics covering all of London.
Three stories from the past month that I’m particularly proud of are:
I was born and raised in Hackney and moved back from living in Sydney, Australia in 2020 which has been a positive but stressful (due to Covid) experience. I like London but my acquaintance for someone who has lived here all his life is quite shameful – that’s why this job is ideal.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.