Initially starting out as a successful concession in Fitzrovia, Good as Gold is now setting up roots in Brockley, London. With business changing overnight due to Coronavirus, Tom and Anthony decided to bring their dreams forward, converting an old betting shop in Brockley to become the café’s new home. With a shared passion for coffee, food and travel, we caught up with Tom and Anthony to discuss how they’ve adapted to the challenges of the last year, their working relationship and creating a distinctive brand.
Can you tell us a little about your journey and how you met?
Tom: We met in our previous job. I was the group chef and Anthony was the coffee trainer.
Where did the idea for starting Good as Gold come from? Who suggested it?
Tom: We used to go to the gym after work to let off some steam and pump iron (it lasted 8 months). By that time we had worked out that we could work this hard for ourselves and have greater reward.
Anthony: I think early on we both had plans to open our own place one day. After working with Tom opening new stores together in our previous jobs, it was a regular conversation we would have together and with other colleagues. It started to get serious a year or so before we eventually did it. We decided to go for it most likely over a few beers!
How do you find working as business partners?
Tom: It’s great, you know you always have someone to ask an opinion of, or lean to for support. Supporting each other is so crucial to success otherwise you could get bogged down in your own thoughts, it makes you share what you’re thinking and speak out. We have one friend who runs solo and he said he was envious of not having that other person to bounce ideas off.
Anthony: I like it. It works for us, I have some strong and weak points and so does Tom, but they complement each other well. We don’t always agree on things, but we try and stay in our lanes! We will always discuss everything as openly as possible though, so there are never any fallouts.
Do you always agree, or do you have different ways of thinking and working?
Tom: We don’t always agree, it’s either we are both on exactly the same page or completely different and try to convince the other one the best way of doing it. But we both compromise and listen to one another, otherwise it’s not a partnership. We both have unwritten roles in how we individually run the business which works really well, but whatever it is, It always ends up being done and turns out great.
What lessons have you learnt along the way?
Anthony: So many! You need time off! It’s so easy to fall into the trap of working non stop because it’s your business, but you end up not being efficient, and if you can’t switch off, you can’t really be present in other settings. Also, no matter how much you plan, it never quite works out, so just do stuff sometimes, and worry about things afterwards.
As a result of Covid-19 you decided to close down your location in Fitzrovia and you’re now in the process of converting an old betting shop in Brockley into your new home. It must have been quite a scary experience with business disappearing overnight. How have you found this next stage in Good as Gold’s journey?
Tom: Fitzrovia was a great stepping stone for the business, but for us it was inevitable that we were going to be somewhere else in the future. Our plan was to have a bigger space that is residential like our new site in Brockley, where we can open up a couple of nights a week for a tipple of booze and some grub, as well as our daily offering of all things nice. This was ultimately accelerated by the virus, but for that we are grateful.
Anthony: Yeah, [it] was quite scary and abrupt. We had finally worked our way into a position where we were starting to enjoy things, we had some amazing regular customers, things were going well, and for it to stop was frustrating to be honest. Our overall plan was to open somewhere bigger, but that was going to be like three years down the line. Covid brought it forwards. I’m finding it really exciting, I love doing this kind of thing! I guess working together in our previous company where we helped open a number of places, we are quite familiar with the processes involved.
You’ve both travelled quite extensively, and Tom mentions being inspired by Australian café culture. Even though we can’t travel at the moment, do you still find yourself inspired by where you’ve been?
Tom: Every single day I think about places I ate and had a great coffee [in]. My personal favourite is Copenhagen, they just seem to do everything so perfectly. I always remind myself via instagram of the shops i most treasured and it gives me ideas to do my take things, like cake flavours and the way dishes are served.
Anthony: I would say travel has been an influence. For me the way different cultures consume coffee was very interesting as it is all so different!
Anthony, you worked as an illustrator before moving into the world of coffee. Did your background influence the Good as Gold visual identity, or have you both equally shaped the brand?
Tom: Anthony really takes on that whole side. I have a few ideas that I voice to him, which I like to think helps with getting the right illustration in the end, but overall he has that creative brain spinning all the time, creating brilliant things for Good as Gold.
Anthony: For our identity my background in Illustration has helped, again it’s something I love doing so I’m very lucky to be able to use the skills in something personal and productive. Tom is definitely very involved too, as his opinion in any design that I do is very important.
What have you found to be the most effective way of marketing your business?
Tom: Marketing is not our strong point, but we try really hard to have a clear brand for our consumers. It’s ongoing all time and we use instagram for our marketing mainly. Word of mouth is our favourite though. We hope Brockley will be singing our praises when we finally open.
Anthony: I think Instagram and word of mouth. Instagram allowed us to have a wider reach for sure. Word of mouth however is something that we try and push, having conversations with every customer, making sure they are having the best possible service is very important to us, as ultimately it is a good customer experience that brings them back! If they then tell their mates it’s even better!
What’s next for you?
Tom: We are in the shop 6 days a week doing 90% of the building works ourselves, which is a challenge as we haven’t done much before. We are really enjoying it though, it is so much more rewarding doing everything yourself, but with a few friend favours along the way. Shoutout to Colin, Michael, Tom and Tyler.
Anthony: Next step is getting the shop finished and opening our door again finally!
Good as Gold is now open.