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Co Down teen's outdoor coffee business thrives during lockdown

Coffee business based in a converted horse box in family's Ardglass garden proves a hit


Ross Kelly who operates Kellies Coffee from his parents’ garden

Ross Kelly who operates Kellies Coffee from his parents’ garden

Ross Kelly who operates Kellies Coffee from his parents’ garden

A young entrepreneur is thriving with a niche outdoor coffee business, operated from a vintage converted horse box in his parents' garden in Co Down.

Student Ross Kelly (18) runs Kellies Coffee, which been in business for over three years and he says trade has improved during the lockdown.

"Covid has worked in our favour because many of the sit-in cafes are closed and we are a takeaway service. There has been such a demand for coffee because everywhere else has been closed and people have got to know about us," said Ross.

The A-level student at Shimna Integrated College in Newcastle started Kellies Coffee with his friend Ellie and the pair merged their names to come up with the brand.

Initially the company was just to meet a one-off demand for a local event - but it took off and Ross is glad of the pocket money.

"I wanted to be different and do something new," said Ross, who continued the business on his own when Ellie preferred to pursue other interests.

Kellies operates from Tollumgrange Road in Ardglass and is advertised through word of mouth, social media and signage for daytrippers and locals.

The business was initially run from a gazebo but Ross later invested in a converted vintage horse trailer.

His parents, Roy and Isabel, are very supportive with mum helping him prepare the baked goods as well as offering financial and other business advice.

"We are a double duo," he said.

Isabel was initially surprised by Ross' desire to commit his spare time to business at such a young age but says the family has always helped him.

"I try not to butt into Ross' business but I do like it when he asks for advice. The odd time I will give him advice when he doesn't ask," Isabel said.

"Ross and I are very similar as we both enjoy working very hard. You reap what you sow and this has paid off!" she added.

Dad Roy is also at Ross' beck and call when he needs the horse trailer transported.

Isabel says she's surprised at how much the business has grown in recent times.

"It has taken off in our house in the back and beyond. Before Covid, Ross was doing festivals and events. Due to Covid he had to be creative and suggested to us about locating the coffee trailer at the house," Isabel added.

In fact the family is considering taking some of the garden away to make room for parking customers but that will depend on whether the custom continues when the cafes reopen.

Isabel added: "We are extremely proud of Ross. He is an incredible young man. His entrepreneurial skills are amazing!"

Ross admits that he sometimes has to sacrifice free time with friends but they are very supportive of his business.

"I love what I do despite the challenges - such as making sure that I follow Covid rules about restricted numbers and sanitisation points. In the long-term, I'd like other outlets and perhaps my own cafe," he said.

And Ross has this advice for others interested in starting their own business: "Just go for it.

"Believe in yourself and just take the risk and do it. Nothing should hold you back!"

Belfast Telegraph