Sounds like a fairytale doesn't it? Well sometimes, just maybe, life is a fairytale, or as miraculous as one. Fairytales are often characterised by enormous changes of fortune, dramatic changes of destiny with the bonus (of course) of a happy ending. The Trans Community however, are not renowned for enjoying 'happy ever afters'. Life can seem incredibly tough sometimes with no let up on public censure, judgement and public condemnation. We've all had our share.
Observing me in my former workplace, a friend once observed how I seemed not to hear the whispers and the talking behind my back. 'I do the same', she said. 'Sometimes you just don't want to hear.' She is a lesbian, barely out at work except to those she knows will accept and understand. She works alongside her partner. It's a raw deal that no het couple would have to put up with. She is such a determined and courageous lady.
I mentioned in a previous post that condemnation at work had become too much. I needed a fairy godmother or at least a good friend. Enter Giovanna. The magic, so essential to fairy tales, lies in the centre of her name. She's a van; quirky, Italian, stylish, different (3 wheels) and her direction comes from her creative left side (she's left hand drive). Giovanna is my co-worker alongside Mart, my amazing husband. Giovanna may be petite but she has the capability of making excellent coffee. With an espresso machine, a burr grinder, a fridge and a water tank, she has all she needs to help me serve my customers.
Myself, Giovanna and Mart run the UK's first Transgender Mobile Barista business. As I have a background in waitressing and restaurant work she was also the magic I needed to convert a handful of brown beans into delicious lattes, flat whites, americanos, cappucinos, espressos and much much more. I have always been passionate about good coffee, chocolate and tea lattes, crazy about street food and fed up with being put down, marginalised and excluded.
When I was a girl, my mother, Rose Spencer, used to tell me the story of Michael Marks. My great grandmother was Jewish and my mother never forgot her roots. She was brought up in Dewsbury and worked in Leeds. I was born and brought up in Calderdale. I found Marks' story deeply inspirational. A Jewish emigre, used to exclusion, marginalisation, put downs and racism, he went it alone and began to sell goods on a market stall in Leeds to make a living. In a trend not dissimilar to modern 'pound shops', everything on his stall cost a penny. I believe he famously exhorted his customers not to bother asking the price...'It's a Penny!' Marks went on to open stalls at markets throughout the West Riding of Yorkshire. He took on Tom Spencer as his business partner and the rest is history.
So, I in my turn became a market stall trader. Setting up on the opposite side of the Pennine hills in Manchester UK, myself, Giovanna and my husband Mart, run our own business, Northern Grind. I began by selling £1 coffees to attract customers. My pop-up barista business is my start-up in a refusal to let others control my life in a job I detested and where I got hated. If you plan on flying into or out of Manchester airport (next door) or are shopping in Wythenshawe, please pop in and see us. Come and meet Giovanna and sample our coffees. If coffee isn't your thing, why not try our Airport Fog Latte made from Earl Grey, Vanilla and velvety steamed milk...we'd love to serve you.
So here's raising a Latte glass to the future, to Jewish entrepreneurs past and present and to Market Stall start-ups everywhere,
Huggs, Jane xx