A FOREST Hill woman, whose company began as a food blog, is now so successful she counts a MasterChef finalist among her clients.
Melissa Bakth trained as a graphic designer but after seven years in the industry she craved work in another sector – food and drink.
She left her job “with hopes of doing something and anything pertaining to food” and started a blog, lovemygrub.blogspot.com
The 28-year-old, of Kilmorie Road, Forest Hill, started writing about culinary markets and shows which led to writing offers from the press and requests from Lewisham Council for her to photograph events.
She decided to establish her own agency, Squash Banana, specialising in branding, marketing and creative design which combined her industry experience with her love of grub.
Ms Bakth said: “When I left work, I got a chance to absorb myself in the food industry and led to so many great opportunities, which in turn helped me to see the potential in taking a big risk and starting my own agency.
“Recently I have taken on more culinary-focused design projects such as 2012 MasterChef finalist Andrew Kojima and the Hackney-based Meringue Girls, as I am a major food fan, and therefore I get a chance to combine my two great passions, food and design, although I work with all kinds of companies.
“I emailed Andrew, who reached the final three of the cooking programme, at the beginning of the year with no expectations and to my great surprise found that by some extraordinary serendipity he was thinking about rebranding his image.
“Many of my clients changed careers themselves - Andrew was originally a banker, the manager of cake specialist Gingercups used to be a fashion buyer, Prasanna Puwanarajah changed from medicine to directing, photographer Krishanthi Williams used to be an accountant.”
“To retrain successfully I think you have to be self-motivated, optimistic, quick to learn and willing to be able to pick yourself up when things go wrong.”
The lifelong Lewisham resident is a champion of nearby eateries which have sprung up in recent years.
She said: “I love my area and am so proud of the fine establishments and opportunities which were not here when I was growing up.
“South east London has turned into a veritable playground of places to meet, eat and wander around and I'll hopefully work with some of them in the future.
“Canvas and Cream in London Road, Forest Hill, is where I have many meetings and I love the atmosphere (and triple fried fries) - The Teapot, a few doors down, is also great. I go to Le Chandelier in East Dulwich when I feel like an up-market brew and I love both Brockley Mess and Arlo and Moe in Brockley Road."
For more information, visit squashbanana.co.uk