Not too long ago I wrote about needing a change. Desperately. My life has been quite simple up to this point (those who know me may disagree with that) but essentially it's been - pursue acting, make coffee in the meantime and stay focused.
This plan has made for a very predictable six years. Since graduating from my Acting degree in 2009 I've done just that; made coffee while pursuing acting and, let me jump in with the obvious; there's been significantly more coffee making than there has been acting jobs.
This does get me down sometimes. Of course it does. A few days ago a friend of mine had a game-changing audition and I felt the jealousy creep in. I want only good things for those I love, but it's much easier to wish them success if you're successful too. It's much easier to "like" a promotional poster on Facebook when you've got a poster of your own to push around.
I don't know what's happened this year to create my breaking point. But it happened. Stupid customers are inevitable, but shifts were becoming more and more frequent where I could not hide how stupid I thought people were. I couldn't pretend that I cared how often the coffee machine was cleaned. I couldn't pretend that I wanted to stock up the fridges or do a temperature check or ANY THING along those lines. It's upsetting and tedious and soul-destroying after a point. I am not someone who will ever intentionally be bad at their job. EVER. That's been the motto for everything I do (even hospitality): always do a good job. Always. You never know who you're serving, you never know where something is going to lead. So always put your best foot forward and give 100%. So, with that ethos, when you feel yourself incapable of giving that 100%, something HAS to change.
There are "bread and butter" jobs for actors that I've done and washed my hands of. School Touring being the most obvious example. Actors can make a lot of money going around schools and doing educational shows and, sometimes it's okay. You can get lucky with your touring buddies, a decent script and a decent company, but MOST of the time, it's a load of shit, hard work, underpaid and as soul destroying as six years behind a bar.
I vowed to never do a schools tour again.
After my Hospitality Breaking Point, I took the plunge. I auditioned for a Theatre in Education company (a five-week tour) and quit my hospitality job the very next day. In a blink, my entire life looked different. I was terrified.
I'd just given myself five weeks to decide what I would do with my life when this tour is over and how I could escape hospitality forever.
I'm 26 years old now. I have adult responsibilities like Council tax, rent and bills. Life is much easier when you don't have to worry about finances, but that is not the case for me. I do have to worry about my finances and make sure I have a certain amount coming in each month, which, up until now has largely been from coffee making.
But now, I'm going to get creative with my income.
Getting Creative With Your Income - Hannah's Financial Tree
I have a dream.
A dream where I make money doing things I enjoy.
My weeks of touring provided invaluable alone time to figure this out. Our final week was up in Stroud, surrounded by beautiful English countryside and I had plenty of time to think about creative income. The picture above I took sitting at a gorgeous English pub with my laptop, a glass of water and nothing but silence.
So, what do I want to do?
1) Actress, check
2) Blogger/Writer, check
3) Foodie (of the Vegan variety) check
4) Theatre Lover/Producer, check
And, as a skill - 5) Coffee Making, check
Surely there's a way to make this work? Could I be the freelancer I dream of?
Acting is the hardest one. As I mentioned above, there are 'bread and butter' jobs you can get, some enjoyable, some less-so, but it's preferable to be doing SOMETHING. A great job is role play, which is in no way reliable or full-time, but you can get days here and there that pay well and keep your toe in the Acting water. Besides school tours, independent theatre, role play and getting together with mates, there isn't much more I can do towards my acting other than be available for my agent and keep myself positive!
My blogging and writing is a long-term goal that I need to be more proactive towards. I blog regularly and love it, but I'm no closer to making this a financially viable career. To do so I need to commit to seeking advertisers and networking more and maybe finally learning how to use Twitter. Screw you Twitter.
Coffee Maker? Well, this one is surprisingly lucrative! I have gone to a few cafes to train staff, but never advertised or taken it to the next level. I recently posted an ad on Gumtree, nothing special, advertising my services in this area and have actually had a decent response! Hello Coffee-Trainer income. Check.
About a month ago I went to Oak Street Cafe (you may remember from the latest post!) and found my cafe kindred spirit. A gorgeous haven I had never stepped in before, but was there training staff and fell in love instantly. "Do you need staff?!?" I begged the owner. She didn't at the time, BUT, as fate would have it, only a week later one of their part-timers left and I was offered a job. Immediately it felt like things were falling perfectly into place. A reliable few days with this gorgeous vegan-friendly cafe and with the rest of the time I can pursue my other income branches?
Another game-changer happened back in June when the delightful Rosie and I did our Zoodle Bar food stall at the Leeds Vegan Festival.
Vegan Foodie income? CHECK!
We worked our bottoms off, made lots of yummy food and it paid off in spades! Not only did we have an amazing day, but actually made profit. BONUS.
It opened up an obvious possibility. Should I do a food stall more regularly? I know that I don't want to be a caterer, but this may be a perfect additional branch on my financial tree.
I love cooking and here is a way I can make some money doing what I love. Set up a food stall, have some business cards ready with my blog and contact details and see what comes of it.
A New Average Day
It's now been six weeks since I left my job. The same job I'd had since arriving in Manchester, only taking short bouts of time off to perform in plays.
And my life looks pretty different. I'm so, so much happier and, incredibly, my bank account has never looked healthier.
These days I have four days a week at the beautiful Craft Centre. Yes, it is still hospitality, but with some massive differences. Firstly, it's a lovely, creative atmosphere that inspires me. I feel inspired to write, to talk to customers again, to feel proud of where I am. It makes a difference selling vegan salads than it does selling Pulled Pork burgers, let me tell you!
Another difference is that I get to cook at the Craft Centre. A few shifts will be spent cooking away in the kitchen and that is beyond enjoyable.
I spend a few hours each day plugging away at my theatre company "Play With Fire", set up with my best friend only a few months ago. We have applied for Arts Council funding and, if that is successful, I'll have a month of creative income while producing our debut show. At the moment, I spend my time building up a social media presence, brainstorming networking events and production planning. Theatre lover income? Check!
There's my blog, of course, coffee training days, a food stall to work towards in October AND I even have two days of role play.
I love this life. All branches are enjoyable and every day is different. Every email I get to book in coffee training, every message with a new follower on twitter, every new salad recipe, every theatre company update or blog post idea .... it's all just utter bliss. I'm not rich and will likely not be for a very long time. But I'm happy.
Acting comes first and it always will. The day I get an amazing audition or opportunity, my priorities will undoubtedly shift. But for now, my priority is ENJOYING myself. So much of life is spent making money, so I refuse to not enjoy it a moment longer.
Today I have spent nearly completely on my Mac, I've booked in a training day, I've written out a budget, I've written this blog and, as a happy random surprise, been asked to understudy in a new play with some amazing people.
Every day is different.
AND I can pay my rent.
Not too shabby.
Love and Sweet Potatoes!
PS - A very happy image for you below. A GIANT banana smoothie and some website work on Play With Fire. Yes, happy with this life right now....
There is a hidden gem in the centre of Manchester that too few people know about. I visited Oak Street Cafe a few weeks ago and could not believe there weren't more people there.
Manchester loves good food. It loves good coffee and (amazingly!) seems to love good, healthy food too. Therefore, when I find a cafe that has all of these things, but is quiet and tucked away, I must TELL THE WORLD.
The gorgeous Oak Street Cafe is located in the Manchester Craft Centre, which is both a blessing and a curse. It's a curse because no one seems to know there is a cafe tucked inside, but when you do, it's never too busy and has a relaxed, calm and creative ambiance. Oak street is divine - it's got delicious food, free wifi, outdoor seating, delicious coffee, friendly staff and... the best part -
.... 99% of the food is vegetarian and the salads, soup and stew is always vegan! Huzzah!
Manchester has some vegan spots, but very few that are this nice to sit in and has food, coffee and cake this delicious.
Oh yes, we need to talk about the cake.
Every day Oak street make their own cakes and always have vegan and gluten free options.
My most recent meal here was a delicious Green Thai Curry Stew with some fresh bread and a side of salad. I may or may not have tasted some vegan brownie for dessert. Mmm.
The Craft Centre in located in Manchester's Northern Quarter. Just head right onto Oak Street when walking down Thomas Street and look out for the blue bike.
Head in, devour some delicious vegan food, then PLEASE tweet, share and tell your friends. This spot should be heaving with people, but I suppose a huge part of the charm is that no one seems to know about it.
So, tell only the cool people.
Let me know if you visit the Craft Centre! Tweet me @oopsimavegan and follow the Oak street on @oakstreetcafe
Love and Sweet Potatoes
- Hannah x
I'm a Barista. I make coffee for a living. I get it.
Years ago, it felt super cool to hate on soy milk. I remember getting the orders in for a "decaf, half shot, soy latte" and doing the eye-roll, the look to my co-workers, the whole performance that says: "one of THOSE customers, guys."
Then, I gosh-darn went out and turned vegan. What a stick-in-the-mud. I became the asshole who has the temerity to ask the Barista to use soy.
"Soy milk doesn't froth the same way," if I had a pound for every time some idiot told me that I'd be a millionaire. I'm telling you now - soy milk DOES whip the exact same way as normal milk. Of course it does. I do this every day of my life, so anyone who tries to argue, come show me in person.
When I go to cafes and I'm the person on the other side, "THAT customer", I can't help but laugh to myself. Mainly because I know what utter crap their eye rolls are based on. I'm telling you from the other side.
Your Barista Thinks -
A) You're just a bit difficult. We do deal with annoying requests every day. Stupid ones, often. So soy drinkers can get lumped in this category of just being "difficult"
B) You are a health nut. And coffee people don't always love health nuts. We like people who look after themselves, of course, and latch on to every ridiculous Guardian article proving "coffee drinkers live longer", but health nut? Who will ask about the gluten free bread, order a soy decaf flat white and then have a slab of chocolate cake for afters without a bat of the eye*? Yeah, you're hated.
C) Soy milk is just "bad". It's bad guys! It's shit. It gives men boobs and girls muscles.
D) Soy is so BAD for the environment guys. Stupid soy drinkers killing forests.
E) The big one. Soy is annoying. It's "hard to froth" and likely, I have to run to the shops to grab a carton because my employer doesn't have a stash easy to hand. He will buy three in the morning and after that, I have to go myself.
I can tell you know (and I'm the authority on all things.... har har) these are all UTTER BOLLOCKS. ABSOLUTE UTTER BOLLOCKS. I remember my judgements, I remember how i would feel about soy drinkers and treat them if they dared request I go all the way to the other fridge for a carton of health-nut milk.
Guys - I was WRONG. I was wrong and you know why? Because all of these arguments. Yes, all of them - incidentally promote milk. It's that simple. No matter what you think of soy milk - all of your anti-soy arguments (even that come from VEGANS!) are promoting the use of real milk.
Let me explain.
Nine out of ten coffee houses have milk or soy milk. And that’s only taking into account the ones with both! Some places still don’t have soy milk at all and out of the ones that stock both, I would say one in ten have a third alternative (usually Almond).
Almond milk is becoming increasingly popular, which is impressive, but it is still a rare find. In your average coffee house - there is milk or soy milk. End of story. Anyone who gives anti-soy arguments to your average person - is telling them to drink milk again. Even if that's not the intent, that will be the reality with the world we live in. All of the reasons that prompted them to give soy a try - usually because they’ve heard it’s healthier - will disappear and they will go back to milk again, which, in my eyes is a travesty. If they only have these two options and if they are not remotely interested in animal rights, all they will do is think "oh, okay, Milk is better for me, then" and give up on the dairy-free milk idea.
Milk is unsustainable, cruel, evil and abhorrent. We are in desperate times and need to get people off the stuff as fast as possible to save animals lives and save our planet. I’m not under any illusions that soy production is good guys, I’ve done my research and I know that soy production is down the crapper - but for anyone who doesn’t know WHY this is - please go to your nearest “Vegan 101” page and figure it out.
I wish there were enough vegans in the world drinking soy lattes to justify the amount of soy production. But of course, there is not. Soy is in EVERYTHING and it’s not good. It’s in our foods, its in magazine pages, it’s in drinks, it’s in cartons but mostly, it’s in animals stomachs, feeding them up with cheap shit that is not healthy for them in the slightest.
Do I think everyone in the world should be drinking soy milk? Of course not. I don’t think this is the answer at all - but I think it’s a better transition to get people off dairy. Get off dairy and find the best alternative that is farmed organically. There are PLENTY of organic, wholesome soy brands out there producing soy milk free of any nasty additives or preservatives (my pick here in Manchester is just soy beans, water and sweetened with apple juice… mmmm) and farmed sustainably.
Soy milk is like anything - there is corruption, there is shit, there are wankers, you need to DO YOUR RESEARCH and find the companies doing a good job and give them your money.
In my humble opinion, the priority needs to be getting people off milk and ending animal slavery. Everything about our food model needs work, it’s completely fucked. Soy included. But that does NOT mean we should just get back to torturing animals. NO. Fix one problem, then move on to fixing the next. In my opinion - animal slavery and torture is the biggest problem of our time and requires drastic action.
So, this morning, what inspired this post, was getting my morning coffee at 7am before embarking on my epic train journey to rehearsals. The two baristas started having a chat as she made my coffee; the girl announcing (I didn’t hear the context) “No, I don’t drink soy milk anymore.”
My heard did a little sad flop. What? What’s going on? Can I intervene? I listened intently and all I heard was muffled talk and laughter and I was imagining what they must be saying about soy milk. Memories. I felt sad; someone has almost made a brilliant change, but now, is not going to see it through. I may not be an activist who is breaking into animals cages (though I hope to one day!) but I am absolutely a day-to-day activist and if every vegan did this I think we would make some serious ripples. As she handed me my coffee a few minutes later I asked: “sorry, as a soy drinker, can I just ask why you’ve stopped drinking soy milk.” She replied: “oh, my partner has gallstones and the doctor said soy milk is a contributing factor.”
Okay, I wasn’t prepared for that.
“Really? Wow… I can’t see how that could be the case..” I fumbled, making mental notes to Google as soon as I got home. I know absolutely NOTHING about this, but my immediate thought was: “I know plenty of people who’ve had gallstones that don’t drink soy milk.” I voiced this to her and she agreed with me. We had a really nice conversation where I just expressed my confusion, as someone who ultimately believes soy to be a healthy alternative to milk and urged her to do her own research and not just take the doctors word for it.
Leaving the coffee shop, I felt a bit angry. THIS is what doctors are telling people with gallstones?? Oh my god. So now, this girl who needs to be healthier and heal, is going to start having cow milk over her cereal in the morning and milk in her coffee instead of the soy milk she’s been having. Well, awesome, that’s going to make her healthier.
I have a drastic idea for people in bad health. Are you ready? CUT THIS MILK SHIT. If soy milk doesn’t work for you - please don’t just run back to milk. A much better idea would be cutting a reliance on milk from your life. Cow milk is NEVER the answer. Yes, you heard me - NEVER. If you want a cup of tea, coffee, bowl of cereal or to bake a cake, that’s great, the vegan community have come up with many alternatives to milk, I’m sure ONE of these can work for you. You only have to like one. Soy milk seems to work well for most people and, again, if farmed organically is absolutely not going to do you any harm at all.
Let’s also remember that most of your “milk needs” - cereal, cake baking, coffee, tea - ARE NOT HEALTH FOODS. If you want to be in supreme health, you shouldn’t have any of these things in your life as it is. So, let’s not pretend soy is the only thing wrong with your morning bowl of cereal. The cereal is the problem with the cereal. Have fruit, have a smoothie if you want to be in the peak of health. If you’re not so worried about being in the peak of health; some porridge with water or dairy-free milk is great, avocado on toast is great, plenty of vegan breakfasts are great - here is a post full of them - but be realistic about what your ‘healthy choices’ are and always be logical.
Be A Day-To-Day Activist
In conclusion I want to encourage three major points:
1) Don’t feel bad ordering soy in a cafe. The Baristas are probably more educated these days, but if they roll their eyes or give you a hard time, they’re just being dicks.
2) Soy > Cow Milk every time. If in doubt, just cut them both. EASY FUCKING PEASY
3) Be a day to day activist. Always ask people questions if they’re spouting weird logic. Don’t lecture them, ask them questions. Make people think for themselves. And always look for opportunities to be a vegan activist. They are all around you.
My last piece of advice? Have a juice in a cafe. Then all problems are solved ;)
Love and Sweet Potatoes,
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