My 2nd internship: Sophia

Month 1 : November 2014
The Double Bill  (Satisfaction 5 / out of 5)


5 months into my PR and Marketing internship and I'm going ahead with a second Retail Operations internship! I can't wait to get stuck in to it. I decided it would be a great opportunity to develop my skills in a different area of work and also meant I could stay on at CCK (something I was hoping to do!). I feel (and I hope!) that I have become part of the CCK family and am so glad that I get to carry on contributing to this exciting journey that we are on as we prepare for the opening of the new shop!

I'm doing around 30 hours a week at the moment, split between 2 internships, which is intense but really interesting and rewarding.

The internship started with some brilliant opportunities to attend a few different trade shows such as the Speciality and Fine Food Fair, Home, 100% design, The Restaurant and Top Drawer. Not only did I get to go to these events but I felt like I was able to give some of my own input to planning which suppliers we may want to work with which I found quite exciting. There were so many people to see and products to look at, I enjoyed talking to the different stallholders about CCK and seeing if they would be interested in working with us. This helped me understand the sorts of conversations that are had with potential suppliers/other business owners about collaborating with our brand and the sorts of questions/ queries that are necessary to ask.

Getting the opportunity to go to these were great as I've never been to trade shows before and enjoyed browsing all of the up and coming products on the market (some of the foodie gadgets were spectacular). I also got to meet lots of enthusiastic and interesting people who were representing their company at the show and made some important key contacts for the future. Not to mention I practically ate my bodyweight in tasters of delicious cheese and salami at the foodie trade shows!

My involvement in brand development during the PR and Marketing internship has prepared me well for this retail operations internship which involves working on sourcing products to be branded such as packaging for the shop. I have been meeting and corresponding with different packaging suppliers who want to know what sorts of finishes, colours, shapes and designs we want for branded packaging. My experiences in the meetings with our branding team has helped me to understand the brand's aim, and I am able to communicate our design requirements and finishes fluently when discussing packaging specifications.

I have specifically been working on getting in touch with companies who are able to produce branded items such as coffee cups, labels, bags and boxes. This is something I haven't done before but am really enjoying it as I get to do lots of researching, comparing and I get to talk to a variety of different people. I have been collating all of the information and quotes from different suppliers into spreadsheets in order to compare prices and minimum order quantities, I have been shown how Excel can be used to work out the unit price of items which is an easy way to work out which suppliers can give us the best value for money. I have been looking for quality suppliers which can produce beautiful bespoke items for us at a good price.

I was able to attend two meetings with potential packaging suppliers by myself to go over some of our requirements and pick up samples, it felt really good to be able to take the lead and go to these meetings alone. I am really honoured and excited to be given the responsibility to do tasks like this which are important to the progress of the brand.

Orders need to be placed soon for the packaging products if we are to have them ready in time for the store opening, so it is important that decisions are made soon. I am looking forward to being able to carry on seeing the progression and transformation of the shop, the brand and the products, and most of all I can't wait to drink a coffee out of the branded coffee cups I am working on getting for us; it is so exciting to see ideas come to life.

It is really helpful that I have already been with CCK for a few months now as this internship has a lot to do with interacting with suppliers and designers it is important that I have strong brand knowledge and am able to communicate CCK's aims and values to others fluently and confidently.

I was also able to visit the shop for the first time this month - hurray! It was so exciting to finally see the space which we have all been talking about for months, and although it may look like a building site now I can totally envision how beautiful it will look once it is decorated and furnished. I have my very own own shop to play with and am a very happy retail intern!

My 2nd internship: Sophia Month 2

Month 2: December 2014
Satisfaction Brewing (Satisfaction 5 / 5)

cck team 2014 sophia2 month3

It's my second month in the Retail Internship and I've been so busy but absolutely loving it. I feel that many of the skills I gained during PR and Marketing internship are transferrable and are helping me when communicating with suppliers, I feel more confident with these interactions because I have built up quite solid brand knowledge and understand what our product requirements are.

I have been doing a lot of research for products for the new shop, ranging from speciality teas and drinks (for the brew bar) to Kentish cobnuts (for our customers to crack open), to greetings cards and books for the gift section. It has been really fun communicating with so many different suppliers and being able to explore different products every day. For instance, today I was looking for beautiful designer mini tongs to serve the special Lakrids liquorice we will be getting from Denmark. I enjoy paying attention to detail and looking for products that are unique and hard to source, it will be exciting to offer our customers special things they can't get anywhere else in London (it's a big claim but...).

To help plan sourcing, I have also been learning how to use the project management tools this month, and learnt about Gantt charts. I used Gantter, a web-based tool which allows you to schedule tasks, link tasks with resources and to certain people, to generally keep track of project progress. I hadn't used a project management tool like this before and was eager to develop a new skill. At first I found it slightly confusing to use, but a few video tutorials later and I had made my own tester project to play around on and practice with. I can see how useful a tool like this is when managing a big project which involves lots of different people doing a variety of tasks. One of the features of the tool allows tasks to be linked so one can only be started once another is completed, which gives a good overview of what needs to be done and by when before the project can progress. I'm looking forward to putting this tool to use to manage some of my own tasks!

As I have started this second CCK internship, I realised I needed to think about some sort of paid work since I was going to carry on interning. It is CCK's policy not to allow more than 2 consecutive internships and I feel passionate about the brand and want to stay on which is why I have applied to join CCK2 on the shop floor as staff once the store opens. I am so excited to be able to be a part of the actual shop and it will be brilliant to see all of our hard work paying off.

I will be starting in a retail and customer service role which will combine perfectly with my retail internship. I will be able to see how the products I have helped source are received by customers and will be able to directly listen to them and take into account what they would like to see being served and on the shelves. It will also be a great opportunity for me to tell the customers about the products in more detail and tell them about the suppliers/where they come from etc.

As I will be working in the shop I also got the fabulous opportunity to go along to professional Barista training at the Monmouth Coffee Roastery near London Bridge. It was a brilliant 2 day course in which we learnt about coffee, from bean to brew, and got to taste a variety of delicious and diverse drinks. We also were taught all about the espresso machines we would be using in the shop. Coffee making is much more complicated than I ever imagined! I learnt a lot and have a whole new respect for coffee experts as making the perfect cappuccino isn't as easy as you may think. However after 2 days of practicing making espressos and blending milk to get that perfectly textured consistency, we were all in agreement that our Cappuccinos and Lattes were tasting pretty good. We even got the sips of approval from Mike and Adam, the two top baristas at Monmouth who were teaching us over the two days.

I'm really looking forward to working with the suppliers I am in touch with now and seeing my hard work pay off once things begin to arrive in store and we can stock our cupboards, fridges and shelves with lots of lovely things.

I think next month is going to be so exciting as we plan to open the shop and welcome our first customers in for a hot drink on a cold day, and I'm expecting it to get very busy and a little hectic at some points during opening - Christmas is always a bit chaotic anyway right? Maybe I'll just have to get some mistletoe out and spread the love in stressful times.