When faced with redundancy amid the oil downturn, an Aberdeen couple got the chance to pursue their passion to bring soul food to north-east Scotland.
Corey Milne and Lindsay Jackson said it was the “wake-up call” of the oil price crash that led to them setting up their Smoke and Soul barbeque catering firm in September 2017.
The pair shortly bagged their first gig in Turriff and the business has “snowballed” ever since, taking on 25 events from May to December last year from an initial target of just four.
Corey, who spends his day job as an electrical technician and already faced fears of redundancy, comes from a family of butchers, and said it was a “lightbulb moment” when the idea came about.
He said: “When we first started up we had no idea we would be as busy as we have been in our first year but it has been really good for us.
“Because we both worked in the oil and gas sector it was the downturn that led to this. We needed a ‘Plan B’ should the worst happen.
“It’s been pretty much my whole life I have been interested in food and drink, I always wanted to start my own business related to food, but it was the uncertainty of it.
“Then one day it just came to me the idea of mobile catering was the right thing for us. It was like a light switched on.”
Corey is supported on the marketing side by fiancée Lindsay, who was made redundant from an oil and gas digital training firm at the end of last year.
Lindsay, who studied at Robert Gordon University’s business school, said the initial “gamble” is now paying off and allowing her to pursue her love for marketing.
She said: “We were both on decent salaries with being in the oil and gas industry so the idea of putting our money into a catering business was a bit of a gamble.
“We both had a wake-up call related to our future careers in industry so we said ‘why not throw ourselves into this business?’
“There were start-up costs as well but we both felt passionate enough to go for it.
“I was really interested in going into the marketing world but I’ve never had a full marketing job so this is really a chance for me to pursue that.
“I would never have had that opportunity without this, and I absolutely love doing it.”
Corey and Lindsay are now looking to the future and have already started diversifying the business as a seller of specialist grills.
They also have plans afoot to improve their branding and to offer their smoked meats to order through their family’s award winning butcher.
Lindsay added: “We’re investing our time and our money, making sure that how we present ourselves in terms of our marketing and brand identity match the strength of our food offering.”