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Celebrating Women in Business - An Interview With Caroline Saturley

Welcome to The Canteen in Nailsworth, a lovely little café that’s become an iconic location to visit in Gloucestershire. This café was built from the ground up, with local people, local produce, and a whole lot of heart at the centre of everything they do.

The leading lady and the driving force behind this local gem is the incredible

Caroline Saturley… she opened The Canteen in 2012 and ten years later we thought it was time we sit her down to learn more about this amazing small business.

Tell us, what was the driving force in opening The Canteen?

So, my little family moved to Cyprus for five years, I was a midwife working with the British forces. When we returned home to Nailsworth, I began selling my pottery at Stroud market. It was going well but I was fed up with selling pots in the freezing cold, then walking up the hill for a late shift to deliver babies at Stroud maternity, taking ages to warm myself up! So I was looking for warmer places to sell my wares, met Libs from domestic science, and almost on the spot, we decided to open the café! Ten years later the wonderful canteen is going stronger than ever! The driving force was a sense of arriving home again, taking root once more in the community and building connections for my little family once more. I guess cooking Mediterranean food has always been a huge thing for me, having been brought up in different cultures in my formative years. It was a sense of giving back all that I knew: apart from being a midwife, hanging out with people, creating lovely food for them to eat…I still feel that quite strongly even now. That’s just what I do.

Give us a highlight from your time running The Canteen so far.

Being awarded Gloucestershire Businessperson of the Year. That’s the obvious one. Other than that, far less tangible but much more important, the canteen is a great space to reach out to people, to stop and share small but regular snapshots of their lives, to watch and marvel at their children growing up, to nourish their days both metaphorically and literally. To share our journeys through life in this small town we call home. That’s what it’s all about.

Have you found that being a female business owner has had a particular impact on your experience over the last 10 years?

Sadly, it does make a difference to a few people I have to do business with, that I am not a man. Surprise that a mere woman can be successful. Most people are fabulous, happy to see a woman succeeding and keen to join the success. But there have been, and still are, a few who are frankly misogynistic, and jealous, and I do get gaslit. Apparently gaslighting isn’t a thing! I must rise above it. I can’t believe I still get asked, ‘what does your husband think of you being in charge?’ I say, ‘I’ve no idea’!

Is there anyone who’s been a big influence in your business journey?

Number one, without a doubt…my twin sister Anita. She is truly amazing. Friends and family, definitely, of course. Both my kids are fabulous cooks too and have worked for me in the past. I come from a family of strong women, it’s in my blood. Also, I feel a huge kinship with the wonderful Stroud midwives, whom I am proud to have been part of. Professionalism and kindness in the face of adversity! When the Chios are down, you put your big girl’s pants on, and your red lippy, and smile!

Tell us one thing we don’t know about you!

I am a crazy dog lady! You all know how dog friendly The Canteen is, but I also have three dogs of my own at home including my gorgeous puppy Fred who is such a joy.

Written by Sophie Martin & Caroline Saturely.

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