The Horsebox.

by Sean Cummins

Towards the end of last year, myself, Frankie and Charlie were given an amazing opportunity to help convert an old horse-box into a coffee trailer, with the aim of taking it to the Eden Project for a film shoot the following week. With the second lockdown underway and all plans cancelled, the opportunity to be involved in such a project couldn’t be turned down. Over a very busy weekend, and with various helping hands, we were able to transform the horse box into a fully functioning pop up coffee shop, ready to be taken on its maiden voyage.

‘Never underestimate the power of spray-painting things gold’ - Chabuddy G

Earlier in the year, during the taster week, the coffee trailer had been trialled. Luckily for us this meant that most of the difficult work had been done already (having worktops fitted, electrics and plumbing sorted etc). With only a few days to get everything sorted, we quickly began painting the inside of the horse-box. Despite our limited decorating skills, we got the trailer painted quickly and moved on to the finishing touches (mostly spray painting things gold). It was now that we realised how easy interior design is if you’ve got loads of gold paint, lights and house plants. After a couple of long days, the horse box was looking ready and we now had to start thinking about the business side of things.


So whilst daytimes were spent inside the horse box, our evenings were spent trying to decide on what we wanted to sell, at what price and generally how to run a business. Working in hospitality is something the three of us are pretty familiar with but it was pretty clear that there’s a little more to think about when the business is yours. After an evening of getting our heads around costings and profit margins, or at least as much as we could, it was just getting all the stock that was left to do. We amazon primed pretty much everything we needed; coffee cups, lids, stirrers and napkins all (probably) arriving the next day. So we had everything we needed minus the coffee (a fairly crucial ingredient for any coffee shop) but despite the short notice, the guys at Temple in Bude supplied us with some amazing coffee and now we were ready.


With a little help from Kenny, the trailer was on its way to the Eden Project and we were left doing some last minute checks, making sure we had remembered everything. After a couple of supermarket stops on route to grab the last bits, we arrived at the Eden Project to meet the trailer. The first couple of hours were spent getting used to the fast pace world of film and probably feeling a little out of depth. Once we had settled in and word had spread about the good coffee, it wasn’t long before we had a constant stream of business and in between shoots we were slammed. The coffee making was becoming a lot easier but the main task was to ensure we kept track of everything we were spending and taking during the day, something that we’d never had to think about before. After 5 days/nights at the Eden Project we had managed to keep everyone awake through the late shoots all whilst turning a healthy profit.


Starting a business is something that many people do at some point and something that any of the three of us could find ourselves doing in the future. The idea of starting your first business is such a daunting prospect. The possibility that, despite your hard-work and determination, the business may not succeed, is terrifying. Whilst there is definitely something to be said about throwing yourself in at the deep end, having the opportunity to gain experience in what goes into a small business is invaluable. Although our experience was squeezed into a short period of time and only scratched the surface of what it takes to run a business, the responsibility of keeping accounts, pricing products, and understanding profit margins taught us some very simple yet crucial business skills. When it came to getting payment from the production company we were completely clueless, however we managed to create something that resembled an invoice and got it sorted. I think all of us probably underestimated the time and energy that goes into running a small business. Early starts and late finishes are a struggle, but are made even worse when you’ve spent the last month in lockdown, watching Netflix/Youtube with a continuous supply of tea and biscuits at your side. I’m extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity and I can definitely say that I would be more confident in setting up a small business as a result. I believe having a project to work on is so beneficial to our mental health; taking pride in your work invokes a huge sense of satisfaction and being able to do so with your close friends extends this even further. I would like to say a massive thank you to The Pearl Exchange and urge any young people looking to develop business skills, creative skills and life skills in general to get involved!