Interview: Jarrod Burke – Business Owner

By Benjamin-Harry Gladwin

Jarrod Burke, 21, owns his own American food business called “Randell’s” with two stores in the Midlands. One in Market Harborough and the other in Kettering. He’s doing a lot better than some people who are twice his age but you wouldn’t know to meet him.

There are already a few stores up and down the country doing this sort of thing,” Jarrod notes “but I felt that with my knowledge of social media & photography being younger that I could build something really cool.” He has gained an understanding of how to sell this as a brand on its own, starting out by selling sweets at fete’s and markets and the age of 17.

His age has been a bit of barrier, but after meeting him most don’t really pay attention to it “Not many people believed that Iโ€™d make it work,” Jarrod notes that “I think once you speak to people and they can see your passion, itโ€™s not about your age. Itโ€™s about who you are as that individual.” Jarrod now has friends that are almost twice his age who also own businesses themselves.

The first store was set up as part of a co-op called ‘The Yards’ in Kettering. “It opened with 40 other trades surrounding it; so I expected the community feel but it became so much more than that.” Jarrod details the diversity of experience he was exposed to with people over twice his age, “they became a comfort blanket of people who are genuinely rooting for me to succeed.”

Initial funding for the business came from a small credit card. “I did struggle at first, not knowing how quickly the business was going to take off,” says Jarrod “I would have to restock but not the money to buy it- I’ve made it work but it wasn’t easy.” Before becoming completely self-employed Jarrod had a job at a local newsagent; at one point he was working seven day weeks to make ends meet.

Every choice he makes has a reason. The name Randall comes from his Grandmother’s last name, “It’s also my middle name and I had such a love for my Gran- it felt right.” It also turned out to be a very shrewd business decision as it differentiates the stores from the others; “They’re usually something like ‘American Candy Land’,’Candy Land’, or ‘Americandy’,” Jarrod says with a chuckle “I wanted to create a brand and I’m not limited to just one type of product- I can sell sodas, cereals, and other general groceries.”

After 16 months of opening his first store, he set the second on the profit of the first alone. Now, eight months later, both stores are completely in profit. “It’s funny. The first business was set up as a bit of a passion project,” Jarrod says with a big grin “but now it’s all I do. It’s crazy!”.

Jarrod believes that young people who want to start their own business should give it a go, “This age is the best to chase something. If it all goes wrong it isn’t the end of the world (…) you can try again!” He also says that you should be wary of people who are just along for the ride, “not everyone is out to help you.”

Not everyday is easy either. As with all retail jobs, some people can be really rude. “Leave it at the door,” Jarrod says with a thud on the table “people being rude is awful and it feels personal, but if I let it interfere with my home life I’d never be happy.” Jarrod goes on to explain how he has found it hard to turn off sometimes due to the nature of being self employed.

“I love what I do and I will do it for as long as I can,” Jarrod pauses for a second “these types of businesses have somewhat of a shelf life and I might have to do something else- maybe property development?”

You can visit Jarrod’s stores in Kettering and Market Harborough. He is due to open an online shop later this year, follow his stores’ Instagram accounts for updates.

All photo credits go to Jarrod Burke

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