What exactly do a Barber Shop and a Coffee Shop have in common? You’d be forgiven for thinking not very much! But, on County Road, Liverpool – they share the same space! At Sweeps Coffee House the building is shared with Sweeps Barbers and it seems it’s a match made in heaven! Owner of Sweeps, Samantha Carney spoke to The Women’s Organisation about her journey into self-employment and what Sweeps is all about!

Samantha told us; ‘I’m a Mum of two, and I’ve lived in North Liverpool all of my life. After leaving school with bad exam results, I got a job in Lewis’s Coffee Shop where I worked for a few years.’ Later in life Samantha decided to take the big step and return to school to get the A Level results that she had always wanted and continue on with education by enrolling in University as a mature student. ‘I went onto University and completed my degree whilst also working part-time’ It was all worth it at the end as Samantha graduated with a First Class honours degree and embarked on what would make up a large part of her working life…A ten year teaching career.

‘I spent over ten years working as an early years teacher in schools across Liverpool and it was great! Then in 2013 I left teaching and with the help of The Women’s Organisation I set up my first business as a bookkeeper in 2014.’

Samantha still works on a part time basis as a bookkeeper supporting Sole Traders with their accounting and self-assessment, but a lot of her time is now based around Sweeps which opened in February of this year. Samantha says; ‘In 2015 I was approached by a friend and local business owner, John May who owns Sweeps Barber Shop and he suggested that we go into partnership to open a Coffee Shop in the unit that adjoins the barbers.’ And so they did, and what a success it has been.

Sweeps Coffee House
The one and only Independent Liverpool in their interview with John May described it as ‘An elegant 1920’s styled coffee house that will hit you right in your sweet tooth. Freshly roasted coffee, loose leaf teas and treats – a place to grab a coffee before getting our ears lowered.’ In February 2016 when Sweeps had their grand opening, they knew it was going to be a great success with so many people joining them and launching their business with Leanne Campbell Power of Radio City and Boxing Champions, The Smith Brothers cutting their red ribbon. Now employing five staff and having built good links with local independent suppliers like Joe Black Coffee, it seems like Sweeps Coffee House is right at home on County Road.

Sweep Coffee House Opening
With the seemingly relentless influx on coffee shops and restaurants in the city centre of Liverpool, we think it’s great that new places are opening outside of the square mile of L1 
and Samantha thinks the same! ‘I love owning a business in North Liverpool, this is the area I grew up in and I am proud to have a business in the area. The area has had its problems over the last few years but there is a strong group of local business owners trying their best to regenerate the area, to support each other and to bring new business to the area.’
Sweeps Coffee House Opening
In terms of support, Samantha of course received support from The Women’s Organisation, both when setting up her bookkeeping business and when starting Sweeps. She told us; ‘The support I received from The Women’s Organisation has been invaluable. When I initially set up my bookkeeping practice I was given 12 hours of support including one to one sessions, courses and help with business planning. And when I was starting Sweeps, the advisors at The Women’s Organisation were again always on hand with advice, signposting me in the right direction of funding, helping with business planning and answering my questions.’

So what has been Samantha’s key to success? ‘I would say definitely team work. John and I work really well together. We both have our strengths and weaknesses, but our different skills complement each other. I’ve learnt so many new skills from Sweeps from food hygiene qualifications to payroll. Every day brings something new and it’s been a huge learning curve.’

If you want to find out more about Sweeps Coffee House and barbers, there is a great interview with them on the Independent Liverpool blog, or you can visit their Facebook page here! Sweeps is located on County Road in Liverpool, so pop over and say hello!