A couple from the Midlands left their old lives behind and moved to St Ives in order to launch their own business and create a better life for themselves. Nick and Claire Gane left thirty year careers in Construction Management and Nursing and re-trained in cheese before starting their own boutique cheese shop, Cheese on Coast in St Ives.
Nick says: “We wanted a complete lifestyle overhaul. I was travelling all over the country and staying away a lot for my work and Claire was a community nurse and so also on the road all the time.
“Our interests were cheese and beer, but we thought I might drink too much product if we went down the beer route so we decided to start with cheese.”
Nick and Claire travelled to London to take a Guild of Fine Food cheese tasting course to learn all about cheese and how it’s made, before following it up with a retail training course. To continue growing their knowledge they’ve enrolled in the Academy of Cheese, an industry recognised qualification where ultimate they could become a Master of Cheese.
While learning about the product, Nick and Claire found premises in St Ives where they wanted to open their shop, but needed some financial support to get it up and running.
“We spoke to our bank and they recommended we speak to SWIG Finance who can help with start up business funding.
“We were assigned a business support mentor, Graham Ashton and he was instrumental in getting us started. It felt like actually getting the shop open was out of reach until we came to SWIG Finance.”
Business Manager from SWIG Finance, Mark Thayre worked with Nick and Claire on their application and was delighted to be able to support them in launching their dream. Mark comments: “They had picked out a great location in St Ives and had put so much work into selecting their products and understanding their market.
“Nick and Claire had invested a lot of their own money into the business and we were really pleased to approve the loan to help get them across the line. We wish them all the best for the future and hope they have a fantastic first season.”
Cheese on Coast finally opened on 19 March with two floors of cheese and cheese related products. As well as more than thirty cheeses in the counter, the shop offers takeaway flatbreads, baked camembert and raclettes and other savoury products such as sausage rolls and scotch eggs.
“It’s been daunting and frightening but it’s also great fun. We’re still learning as we go and looking to bring in other products, such as vegan cheese, takeaway cheese boards and an olive bar.
“We want to become a really positive part of St Ives and its businesses. Now we can walk to work and we’re running our own business and so we’ve already achieved so much of what we set out to do.”