30 June 2016, 10:42 AM
  • Catherine Mead of Lynher Dairies talks inspiration, simplicity and risk
The Interview: Catherine Mead

Eurwen Richards, the grand dame of cheesemaking is a huge inspiration to me. She’s always been hugely supportive and I’ve always felt that she has a slightly maternal role as she has such a fondness for the industry. What she didn’t know about cheesemaking wasn’t worth knowing. She was hugely helpful to us early on when we were trying to get our cheese consistent. She is a very special person. I had a fantastic business mentor who I’ve been talking to again of late, Ali Hannaford, who has a fish business in Devon. I was put in touch with her in about 1998, as her business was more developed than mine and she was quite a few steps ahead of me. She was incredibly helpful in some of my business decisions and challenges. She had been very innovative and dynamic, and thanks to her trialling lots of ideas I was able to borrow and trial them myself.

I’ve been trained in the importance of simplicity. Clarity of communication is key, and if you lose that it’s very difficult to bring people with you. We are hugely honest in everything we do, and there’s integrity in everything we do and say, so everybody knows where they stand. I will never compromise my product, and so there is a bond of trust held between customer and business

I have a reasonable but not incredibly high appetite for risk; if you’re setting up a business and investing your own money in it and putting yourself out there, you are taking a risk – that’s something that has to be reconciled pretty early on – and I passionately believe that work has to be a happy place. We spend so much time at work that we need to enjoy it, and going to work should never be something that someone doesn’t want to do – if that’s the case, that role isn’t right for you. I carry that value with me and hopefully communicate and permeate that through the business. When I was relatively inexperienced in advertising, the boss of the agency I worked for always said three things: we must do good work, we must have fun, and we must make profit. The doing good work ensures your market, the having fun keeps your team developing and supporting you, and the making profit allows you to reinvest and develop. If you’re not doing those things it’s so much harder. I’ve carried that for the past 20 or 30 years as a mantra. There are moments when one of those things isn’t quite as present as I’d like it to be, but that provides an opportunity to take a step back and review it.

Read the full interview in our July/August issue, out soon

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