A London-based food e-tailer with roots in St. Lucia and founded in lockdown has been named a Small Business of 2020 by Lloyds Bank.
Bon Mangé, which sells jars of green seasoning and hot sauce, was launched last year by Rochelle Alcee-Stevens and her fiancé Mandella Leonce. Rochelle began posting photos of food they had made on Instagram, which led to friends and family encouraging them to create a dedicated page, Bon Mangé, and the couple then paired up to turn their love of cooking into a business.
Now Bon Mangé has been named a winner in the Lloyds Bank Small Business of 2020 awards, in recognition of how creatively and quickly the pair adapted to the challenges of last year. The prize is a mentoring session with sauce supremo Levi Roots, the man behind Reggae Reggae Sauce, which will provide insight and support to help Bon Mangé navigate opportunities and grow the business in the year ahead.
The Lloyds Bank Small Business of 2020 competition celebrates the small and local businesses across the UK and their inspiring energy and resilience in meeting the challenges of 2020. Almost 900 businesses up and down the country were nominated by their local communities and 24 winners were picked based on how creatively and quickly they adapted to events since March, and how they went over and above expectations.
Like so many others, Rochelle was furloughed last spring, and used her free time, along with her background in digital marketing, to launch the business, while Mandella was able to manage production. They started out by delivering to friends who lived locally in north-east London on their bikes.
She recalls: “It started to grow through word of mouth, with lockdown meaning that people had more time to focus on cooking at home.
“We are both of St. Lucian heritage, and the products we sell are family recipes passed down through generations. Another reason for their popularity is that they’re versatile, they don’t contain any allergens and are vegan friendly.”
As orders through their page increased, the couple began posting the products to different areas of the UK and launched a website for the business in January to facilitate more online orders.
In addition to the products, Bon Mangé has collaborated with St. Lucia rum company Chairman’s Reserve to create boxes that contain specially selected recipe cards and rum-based cocktail kit pairings.
Most recently, the business has collaborated with local aspiring DJs on music mixes to provide the perfect soundtrack for cooking Creole and Caribbean inspired food at home, as part of its Vibin’ with Bon Mangé series.
Gareth Oakley, Managing Director of Business Banking at Lloyds Banking Group, said: “So many inspiring stories have emerged from the shadow of the pandemic, especially of people turning the challenge of being furloughed into a positive and making the most of the time to transform their passions into viable businesses. The Bon Mangé team is a perfect example of this ambition and tenacity. Behind Bon Mangé lies a clear pride in heritage, family and tradition – the hallmarks of many great enterprises – and it is truly deserving of this award.”