AS ONE CHAMPIONS drives at uncovering impactful projects; Pealing back the layers to reveal the amazing people striving forward, all the lessons learned along the way and whats up next. As a community we're all about uniting positive, ambitious and innovative characters and working hard to inspire.
Read on, soak up these AS ONE CHAMPIONS, connect the dots and give these guys some love.
1. Tell us about your company/project.
We’re a husband & wife team, Lee & Daniel Strickland. In 2015 we bought a rundown, Grade II listed, building in the centre of St Ives; then proceeded to refurbish and modernise it into a chilled out, relaxed, stylish hostel. We offer budget accommodation for all and our guests include independent travellers, couples, school groups, wedding guests, surfers, walkers, and just about anyone who wants to experience St Ives without paying St Ives prices!
2. What is your deep reason for choosing the path you're taking?
Restless and frustrated with the city / wage-slave routine we moved to Cornwall from London 7 years ago; we initially bought and ran a guest house in St Ives for 4 years, selling up just before our second child was born. Neither of us were classic B&B-ers, however we had both travelled extensively using hostels and so when the dilapidated St Ives Backpackers building came on the market it felt like a no-brainer; we had a real ‘why hadn’t we thought of this before?’ moment.
We both know hostels, know how they work and what makes them work. Going into the hostel industry was a perfect fit for us.
On a deeper level, we are where we are because we both were always keen to work for ourselves. We love running with new ideas and we’re more comfortable being in charge of our own destiny. Also, now we have a family, being self employed gives us a flexible working life and a great work/life balance.
3. What is the big dream, or legacy you're creating?
The UK has some great hostels, but generally speaking the industry is a bit behind Europe/Asia/Australasia when it comes to high quality hostels and we don’t really know why. What we are doing is creating unique, budget accommodation in Cornwall and by using innovative technology and investing in unique facilities we are pushing the boundaries of what high quality, budget accommodation actually means.
Long term we would like a family of socially responsible hostels which meet the needs of the 21st century guest.
4. What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Advice the current us would give to ourselves (to be applied to any period in our lives) - Don't think of decisions as 'decisions for life', they are just 'decisions for right now' and if it doesn't work out it's not 'wrong', you just need to make another decision.
In conjunction with this, don't beat yourself (or your partner!) up about mistakes, they're just learning opportunities in disguise.
We feel like so much energy is spent on making small decisions that have very little bearing on anything once a bit of distance is created between you and the decision. We’ve also wasted too much energy on bemoaning the results of a decision when we should have channelled that energy into a solution.
Specifically for this project the current us would tell the old us not to go cheap... you'll end up paying more in the long run! And, don't worry, the people will come!
5. What companies/projects inspire you?
Companies who manage to balance social responsibility (good employers/providing a worthy service/charitable) with a successful, profitable business. Ones where the originator has started with nothing but a good idea and transformed this idea into a working vision through sheer determination and hard work.
6. What does your industry/Cornwall/location need to see more of?
Cornwall needs to see more investment in its infrastructure and transport systems; one of our largest barriers to entry can be people getting down here and even a decent bus service from Newquay Airport to popular areas in Cornwall would make a huge difference.
Our industry needs to have better PR. Hostels in this country (especially outside of London) can still be perceived as last-resort places when often they're a far more pleasant place to stay than a soulless, budget hotel like Premier Inn or Travelodge. We’re hopefully changing this perception guest by guest!
7. What’s the most exciting thing you’re working on now?
We're working with the Department of International Trade to ascertain how we can market to educational groups outside of the UK; mainly in Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands. We believe that educational groups are a growth market for our hostel and it's a fascinating process to work with market research companies and digital experts in order to assess how best to approach these new markets. We wouldn’t be able to afford this on our own so to have this process funded marks a real opportunity.
Also, we're coming to the end of our major renovations at the hostel and it's exciting to finally be able to focus things other than the building. Our first project this winter (in conjunction with a restaurant in town) is to campaign to greatly reduce plastic consumption within our business. We’re looking to use ourselves as working examples of how we can reuse more plastic (bottles), reduce plastic consumption (disposable plastics) and then campaign for the rest of the town to follow.
It’s an exciting project and one where we will be working with other organisations to promote the idea that slight changes to working practices don’t have to have a financial impact and will, at the same time, reduce the amount of plastic that is used.
We throw away thousands of discarded plastic bottles every year and would love to reduce this to the hundreds! Hopefully the town will follow our example.
8. What problem in the world do you see that you’re fixing?
It's not so much a 'world problem', rather than a 'St Ives problem'... in that St Ives doesn't have decent budget accommodation options; it's been named as one of the most expensive UK resorts and we believe that everyone should be able to visit despite not being able to afford a £200/night hotel.
9. If you could go back, what's one thing you would have done differently?
Honestly can't think of anything... Everything that we've done 'wrong' has led to doing something right and it's all a learning curve. I guess, if anything, it would have been good to have identified the groups market earlier than we did and actively marketed to them sooner.
10. Who has been the most help to you along the way? And why?
It’s boring but essential: without Lloyds bank (then Lloyds TSB) taking a chance on us, for our first business and then supporting us for this one, we would never have been able to proceed. No other lender would have considered lending to us on the terms we needed. We had nowhere near the capital or experience that banks usually look for. It isn’t always ‘computer says no’.
Family have also been amazing, continually supportive and excited about our project; they’ve also been there for us physically when we’ve needed them to come down and look after the kids during a particularly busy time; and one particularly dedicated family member comes down at least three times a year to help out with manual labour around the hostel (painting, sanding, etc.).
We’ve paid them in accommodation and home-cooked meals…
Feel free to give some love to anyone else out there doing great things...
ST IVES BREWHOUSE
SURF HOUSE ST IVES
The guys aims to promote, advance and celebrate the study, knowledge and understanding of the surf, surfing, surf science, surf culture and history, surf science and everything else to do with surf, surfing and the surf lifestyle.
ST IVES SURF SCHOOL
Award winning surf school on Porthmeor & Porthminster Beach. Not only do these guys run a superb operation they also support the local community offering affordable surf lessons to local kids of all ages via Saints Boardriders. They do lots for charity, working closely with Surfers Against Sewage and run the annual Swell Board Shoot Out, now in its 8th year.
Who do you need to be connected to? Who can help you?
People who work with educational establishments or any kind of activity groups that might find it helpful to have accommodation in the centre of St Ives.
How can people get in touch?