Q&A: Gary McIldowney
Q: What's the best piece of business (or life) advice you've ever been given?
A: It's more life advice in general. It's okay for people not to like you, work hard, be honest, be humble and if you can put your head on the pillow and night and sleep without demons, you're doing okay.
Q: What piece of advice would you pass on to someone starting out in business?
A: Keep your circle small and trust your instinct.
Q: What was your best business decision?
A: To take the jump to open Slim's Healthy Kitchen.
Q: If you weren't doing this job, what would be your other career?
A: I'd most likely be DJing. I gave up being a DJ two years ago to focus on Slim's.
Q: What was your last holiday? Where are you going next?
A: San Sebastian in Spain and next stop is New York.
Q: What are your hobbies/interest?
A: I've recently got back into training at the gym and I'm attending Brazilian Jui-Jitsu classes, something I started 10 or 11 years ago.
Q: What is your favourite sport and team?
A: I'm a fan of rugby and specifically Ulster.
Q: And have you ever played any sports?
A: I trained with Malone rugby club for fitness. I was asked to play a game and I jumped in. During my debut I went in for a ball just before half-time - and 14 stitches to the forehead was my retirement gift.
Q: If you enjoy reading, can you recommend a book?f
A: Shoe Dog - it's a story about a shoe company and how not even the best companies are an overnight success. The founder talks of late nights, the worry, business deals gone wrong and how perseverance can carry you through. It's the story of Nike.
Q: How would you describe your early life?
A: Fun. My early life was great. My dad worked extremely hard to give us what we had. I took my first job at 15 while on holidays and carried it on after returning to school. I haven't really stopped since then.
Q: Have you any economic predictions?
A: Brexit has been having a massive effect in everyday business and made for a challenging landscape. Our cost of sales have been fluctuating dramatically, a lot of our suppliers are being affected by exchange rates. Prices are increasing and like many others, we are trying to make efficiencies elsewhere to absorb costs where possible.
Q: How would you assess your time in business with your company Slims?
A: It's been a massive learning curve - everyday is different. I've met some fantastic people and I can't see myself doing anything else.
Q: How do you sum up working in the hospitality sector?
A: The business is all about people, and if you can help someone eat a little better, healthier then it's worthwhile.