5 Oct 2020 | Student Life

Whilst the hospitality industry is slowly recovering, COVID-19 continues to impact how businesses operate. Mad Hatters is one such company, who in response has created two new delivery services for the Cardiff community. They quickly became our go-to for events during Refresh 2020, providing the catering for our ‘Welcome Cocktails & Canapés’ and ‘Sunset BBQ’ celebrations, as well as supplying a variety of tasty treats for our ‘Around the World Afternoon Tea’ event. In this Q&A we asked the director Sabina Bush, what the driving force was behind her starting Mad Hatters Catering and what her biggest achievement to date has been. Here’s what she had to say…

Tell us about your business?

Mad Hatters Catering is a versatile business, catering for private and corporate events. We have catered for 500+ people at business conferences and dinners, as well as providing small afternoon teas for private customers. We can do five course sit downs, BBQ’s in a field, chefs at home, birthday parties, weddings and any other type of celebration. As well as these different types of service, we also specialise in a wide variety of cuisines. We have experience in catering for Chinese, Indian, Malaysian, British, Spanish, Mexican, Caribbean and Italian menus.

What was the driving force for you to start your business?

Making people happy, with good quality food and service, is the driving force for us. Nothing makes us happier than having clients who are left satisfied and will come back to us time and time again. We have always strived to create a brand which would still be here in generations to come. We’ve focused our efforts on building a stable business through creating trust, integrity, honesty and good service.

What are your businesses’ core values?

Our core values are integrity, passion, quality and social responsibility.

Integrity: We are respectful towards our team and all those who may come into contact with Mad Hatters. We are committed to only using the best ingredients and always try to go that extra mile to create long lasting memories.

Passion: This is what makes us get out of bed in the morning and allows us to give 100%. We always strive to achieve the best results and want to be the best at what we do. Our team have a diverse set of skills and are constantly trying to better their knowledge. We are extremely lucky that we have such a positive culture at Mad Hatters.

Quality: We don’t accept second best; it is not an option for us. This is the case for the food that we cook and the way in which we work. If we have a food delivery and the vegetables don’t meet our standards, then they get sent back and we wait until we receive the right quality product. Our team come into work with a can-do attitude and growth mindset.

Social Responsibility: This is a very important core value for us and has been since we first opened in 2001. We appreciate that we live and work in a community where others are less fortunate than us. If there is something we can do to help, we are more than happy to do this. In the past we have supported projects for those in need and regularly donate food to the homeless and Salvation Army. We are proud to say we will always help those less fortunate than us.

How do you overcome setbacks?

By staying positive and learning from our mistakes. It’s important not to dwell on things that are our of our control. If we have been unsuccessful in gaining a contract, I always have the mindset that something else will come along which will be better for us. More often than not, this is the case. Through having such a close knit team at Mad Hatters and supporting each other, we are able to drive the business forward.  

If you had one piece of advice for students setting out their own business, what would it be?

Have a passion for what you have chosen to do.  You will undoubtedly be spending a lot of time working on your business venture, so it’s important you love what you do and believe in its success. I always say that Mad Hatters was my second child and have put so much into it over the years. I feel it embodies all the values which are dear to me and it’s such a pleasure to see it continue to grow and develop.

Are there any other brands within your sector that you are following at the moment?

Rather than brands, I look up to people who work hard to achieve their goals. Thinking smart is priceless but I know that being the best means I’m working when my competition are sleeping. During this hard time, we as a global community are facing, I have worked non-stop. Our corporate business dropped by 95% and I knew that I had to come up with another source of revenue fast. Early on in the COVID-19 crsis, I created two new brands targeting our private sector (Sundays Roast Meal and San Marzanos). I am proud to say that, whilst we are still waiting for the majority of our corporate customers to return, we can still keep our staff employed through other sources of revenue.

What has your biggest achievement been so far?

I’d say one of our biggest achievements so far was last Christmas. Christmas is usually a very hectic time for us anyway and  last year was no different. We were working all our usual hours and recived a call to support a local elderly nursing home, which saw us cooking and delivering 2 course hot meals for all the residents daily. Within two weeks we had to redesign our kitchen, purchase new equipment, new vehicles and employ new staff! It was a crazy time but met the requirements of all our customers and had amazing feedback. It made it so worthwhile!

Another big achievement for us was making sure Mad Hatters and our team survived this trying time. Through hard work we have made sure there is revenue coming in to the business to support us all. My team mean the world to me and I am continuously learn from them. Knowing we cannot do this ourselves is such an important life lesson. You have to be able to trust others and let them support you.



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