“My family spend our summers together by the beach, cooking and baking or making smoothies and coffees. I loved the social and communal aspect of serving and enjoying food together. We always said it would be so cool to have a business here selling what we made. It was a dream that we talked and joked about for ages, I’m so excited now that it is happening.”

Robyn Knox, 22 from Annalong, was working on a cruise ship until March 2020. Her contract came to an end and she returned to Northern Ireland two weeks before the first national lockdown. When it became clear there weren’t going to be any job opportunities in the cruise industry for a while, Robyn decided now was the time to explore the business idea she’d become passionate about.

“Working on cruise ships made me realise how much I love working with people. When lockdown started I really missed being around people, it made me think more about the idea of starting a coffee business and I decided it was the perfect time to see if I could make it happen.

“I knew I wanted the business to be mobile and had the idea of converting an old horsebox. There was one I ran past every day in the summer that had been there for as long as I can remember. I went with my Dad to ask the owner if we could buy it, he told us that if we could dig it out, we could have it. It was buried quite deep into the ground and took six of us to get it out of the field, but we got it eventually!”

Converting the horsebox into a mobile coffee shop became a family project with Robyn’s Grandad, Dad and brother all working on the restoration every day for five months. With the plan coming to life, Robyn decided that she wanted to learn more about how to run a business and signed up for The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme.

Enterprise is a free, three-day programme that covers the basics of starting a business and provides access to start up finance support if needed.

“It was great to meet other young people starting businesses on the course. They were a good group all with unique business ideas and many of them had decided to give them a try because of the situation with the pandemic.

“I found the information about marketing and branding and accounting the most useful. The finance side of things was my biggest fear about starting a business, but it seemed more manageable after the tutor went through it and broke down everything that is needed. I was also successful in applying for some funding from The Prince’s Trust to help get the business up and running and have been able to buy a fridge, blender and place our first coffee order with the money.”

The horsebox, named Southpoint Coffee Co., opened for business in March and will be based at two locations, Kilkeel and Cranfield. Serving coffee and sweet treats for now with a plan to move into further food and drink options in future.

“I was so bored during lockdown but having this project and working on the business kept me going. This year we’ve all realised that it is the small things that matter, and I hope that having a coffee and chat with us while on a walk can make someone’s day.”