April Jackson, a confessed foodie and savvy business woman turned to no other location but Brixton to launch her new restaurant ‘Three Little Birds’. Marley himself would be proud. Having grown up seeing her dad work countless hours even on Christmas Day, April Jackson always wanted to build a business from scratch to be able to provide for her family and make her dad proud. ‘When I was nine years old I planned my life, I was going to be an air hostess, a lawyer and a surgeon, whilst taking over the family business’, April tells us, ‘I later learned that you didn’t need to work for an airline to see the world, nor did I need a degree to argue well and I was so afraid of blood and hated hospitals, therefore I was forced to make some changes as far as my career goals were concerned’ Making money was something April says she always enjoyed doing. ‘I used to sell sweets to the neighbours, clothes to hairdressers and I loved saving’. To April the key was always to make her own money but still spending daddy’s.
NU People: What is it about Jamaica that nurtured your thirst for entrepreneurship?
April: Perhaps due to the sunshine, we are a nation of early risers; I believe that many Jamaicans have a natural entrepreneurial spirit and a better work ethic than I have seen here in the UK. Also, being able to grow up in an environment where you know CEOs and business owners gives you the encouragement to pursue your business goals. Growing up in Jamaica, I did not feel that there were limits as to what I could achieve with handwork and it is this belief that has given me the confidence to open Three Little Birds in London.
Food is a big part of African Caribbean culture. What do you love about food apart from cooking it and eating it?
Food has the power to transcend boundaries and teach people about foreign cultures effortlessly. On a personal note I have a strong emotional connection with food, in the sense that if I have a bad day, a great plate can lift my mood and make me happy again. I believe that food is often backdrop to the best moments that we get to share with our loved ones.
How did Three little Birds start?
Three Little Birds grew from a pop-up shop I had in Brixton last year where I was selling everything Jamaican that’s legal!
I still have the boutique element but we also added cafe and rum bar to the business model. The idea is that once you step through the door I get to take you to Jamaica for a moment, with the rhythm of reggae music, flavours that the island is famous for and warm hospitality.
How did you set out to set yourself apart from the competition? There are a few in Brixton.
What we do at Three Little Birds is unique so differentiating ourselves in Brixton hasn’t been a challenge. We are open from morning straight through to the night and therefore offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. Our food menu features sharing plates during the week and large dishes for weekend brunch but the menu changes weekly or sometimes even daily. Our cocktails are memorable, with a limited menu highlighting only Jamaican rum that changes regularly there is always something for our guests to enjoy
How do you decide what ends up on the menu?
Whenever I am coming up with something for the menu, I first thing I think about is the flavour combination, then I think about the presentation and lastly how the chefs are going to execute each element perfectly.
How do you come up with recipes?
My recipes can come from eating something elsewhere and attempting to recreate it in my own kitchen or sometimes they start with a flavour combination that I want to experiment with that becomes a complete dish. Caribbean food is so universal because it has influences from all over the world. At least for Jamaica we have dishes that have touches of Europe, Asia and Africa, which result in interesting flavours that most can relate to in some way.
How was your time at the apprentice?
I am grateful for the experience that The Apprentice provided me with but it wasn’t what I expected it to be.
It feels like it was a lifetime ago since so much has happened since the filming in the Summer.
What did you take away from the show and Sir Alan Sugar?
After leaving the show I was determined to capitalise on my 5 minutes on TV and use the exposure to help contribute to the success of Three Little Birds. If I had the opportunity to spend more time with Lord Sugar then I would have probably learned a lot from him but it is as you see on the show, he tells us the task and we see him in the boardroom but that is it.
Does a part of you wish you had gone on to win it? Why?
My intention was never to win The Apprentice but I did want to make it to the final five, enjoy the experience and learn from my time in the process. I wanted to use The Apprentice as a platform to build a network in the UK and get people to pay attention to my latest project.
You have proven yourself as a good business woman. What is the most important lesson you learnt as a woman in business?
The most important piece of advice I can give is find at least one person you can trust to share your thoughts, ideas and bounce off of. Ideally this would be someone who also has their own business so you can learn from their journey, for me this is my dad and I wouldn’t be able to have pursued my dreams without him.
What next for your empire?
I hope to open a few more Three Little Birds across the UK and internationally, dabble in broadcasting, publish my memoir and cookbook.
Advice to women entrepreneurs out there?
I would advise female entrepreneurs to trust yourself, listen to your inside voice and have confidence knowing that we all make mistakes but we will be a better businesswomen having learned from them so have we should no fear. Also as women in business we should use our feminine qualities to enhance our skills instead of feeling the need to try to disconnect with our feminine side in order to fit in. We should be empowered not feel inferior for being women entrepreneurs.
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