At just 23 years old, Molly Douglas is the perfect role model for anyone who dreams of running their own business. As the only four-time-winner of the Champions Taste of the West Award, the business she co-owns with her mother, Suzie, has gone from strength to strength and even the current COVID pandemic isn’t holding back the mother-daughter duo.
When Molly joined City College at the age of 16, she was fortunate to already have a great deal of cooking experience under her belt. As a trained chef, her mother Suzie has worked in a variety of hospitality settings, from fine dining restaurants to overseeing hospital kitchens, and Molly had been helping her in the kitchen ever since she was a little girl.
After completing the Professional Chefs and Food Service course, Molly and her mother began working on their dream venture, Just Like Mumma’s, which has become one of the most popular cafe-come-bakeries in the Plymouth area.
“I love food,” said Molly when asked why she decided to take this route. “Perhaps it is something I inherited from my mum; but to me, food isn’t just something that you eat. Food is fun; food is memories; food is love. It brings people together and I find it a complete joy being involved in that process for someone else – I do love eating it too, though.”
Thinking back to her time at the College, Molly said she has nothing but fond memories. “It was a lot of fun. In particular I remember Larry Moody, who was a great mentor and who made our lectures not only valuable learning experiences, but he made it enjoyable; all the staff did. Whilst I might have been fortunate to have a bit more cooking experience than some of my peers, I was very shy. City College really helped build my confidence, and the lecturers were always fully committed to seeing their students progress; no one was ever left behind.
“I also appreciated how the staff treated you like an adult, which was a refreshing change from school, and they treated everyone equally. Regardless of your age or your experience, you were all worthy of the same time and commitment, and you were encouraged to treat each other as you would any other colleagues in any working environment.”
Molly and Suzie have picked up a total of 18 awards since opening their business. They first launched their venture at a local rugby club cafe, before moving to their premises in Oreston in 2017. Getting the business to where it is today, which includes a huge online service, Molly admits has taken a lot of hard work.
Molly said: “Some weeks we’re working 98 hours to get through everything. When we were forced to close due to COVID, we moved the business online, which has been another huge learning experience, but we’ve loved the challenge and it also means we can reach a wider audience. We will definitely continue with the online side of the business. It can be challenging at times, and you really have to motivate yourself, but for me, I wake up every day and I get to go to work with my mum – I don’t think anything could beat that.
“Even in spite of COVID, catering is a great career if you want to do something that is fun, varied and gives you an array of opportunities. Catering could take you around the world; catering could be the route to running your own business – there are so many options. Ultimately, though, everyone loves food, and whilst you could do this job anywhere, I love doing it here in Plymouth with such a fantastic reputation for local produce.”
Molly’s advice for anyone considering studying catering at the College is to work hard and to make the most of the opportunities made available to you. “You’ll have a great time at City College. You will learn so much about your chosen career, but you will also learn a lot about yourself.”
Molly’s former lecturer – and now Academy Manager for Catering and Hospitality, Larry Moody, said: “I remember Molly having a great deal of talent and skill, but she was painfully shy. It was great to see her progress during her time at the College, and it’s no surprise to see the incredible things she and her mother are now accomplishing. For many businesses, COVID has been difficult to overcome, but Just Like Mumma’s is thriving as Molly and Suzie work hard to adapt to these challenging times. Molly was a fantastic student and I wish them both well for the future.”
Just Like Mumma’s is currently offering its fantastic selection of sweet and savoury treats for sale online at https://www.justlikemummas.co.uk with customers able to have their goodies posted to them or delivered if local.