Meet the Canopy Market Traders

A Q&A with JP Then, co-founder of Crosstown Doughnuts and makers of scrumdiddlyumptious handmade doughnuts

Posted: Thursday 27th October 2016

Who are Crosstown Doughnuts?

We make handmade sourdough doughnuts , made fresh daily at our bakery in London.

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How long have you been working in food and trading at markets?

Crosstown launched as a market stall at Leather Lane in May 2014. Our intention was always to eventually move from market trading to opening permanent sites; even though we have since realised this goal (we now have 2 permanent doughnut & coffee bars; 4 Broadwick Street, Soho, and 157 Brick Lane, Shoreditch), we continue to trade at markets across London as we love the customer interaction and community spirit that is unique to market trading.

Why did you start your food business and markets?

Having always wanted to start my own business and being interested in food, it seemed like an obvious move to launch a food business. We wanted to find something that would be the perfect accompaniment for speciality coffee, and at the time there weren’t really any doughnuts available in London that were comparable to the ones being produced by artisan bakeries in the US.

At the same time, the street food scene was gaining momentum and we found that the market setting is the ideal place to launch a product; with so many street food options available, it’s clear to see how your product is selling compared to the other stalls. You’re on the ground with the consumers, gauging reactions and getting honest feedback on the doughnuts first-hand. Market trading will always be important to us, as it’s where we started out and the means to our success; we forged some great relationships with our early customers, who continue to support Crosstown to this day.

How do you source your ingredients and produce your product?

We pride ourselves on utilising the best ingredients we can find, sourcing locally and seasonally where possible, as well as importing products from around the world – we use Belgian chocolate, and Tongan vanilla beans – to ensure the best taste.

All of our doughnuts are handmade fresh each day at our South London bakery; our small bakery team make everything in-house from scratch, whether a jam, compote, filling, glaze, or topping.

Do you have any interesting facts about your product or business? What’s your ‘USP’?

Our doughnuts are made using a hybrid sourdough. This gives the doughnuts a distinct taste and texture that is unlike traditional-style doughnuts. They’re also fried in rapeseed oil and contain no additives or preservatives; we operate on the basis that if you’re going to treat yourself to a doughnut, you might as well make sure it’s the best quality doughnut you can find.

Alongside our classic flavours (cinnamon sugar, vanilla glazed, chocolate truffle, raspberry jam) we like to incorporate interesting flavour combinations for our seasonal offering; beetroot & lemon-thyme, matcha tea, chilli chocolate.

Who is your ‘typical’ customer?

We actually have an extremely varied customer base, owed in part to the fact that we trade at different locations all across London. At some locations we get a lot of families, at others we get a lot of tourists, and we also fulfil a lot of corporate orders and special orders for events, birthdays & weddings.

Overall, our most prominent customer demographic is young professionals with an interest in food & drink trends, who incorporate Crosstown into multiple aspects of their daily life, stopping by on their way to work or on their lunch break, ordering in office treats and visiting our store and market locations at the weekends.

What is most rewarding about trading on markets?

The relaxed attitude at markets means that people are happy to stop and have a chat and let us know what they do and don’t like, which is invaluable for any business. It’s also great to see the same people returning time and time again, and recommending us to others/bringing their friends along to try the doughnuts. Each market has its own unique feel and atmosphere, but all have a great sense of community, amongst the traders as well as the regular and one-off visitors.

Why do you think people love markets?

Visiting markets is a sociable outdoor activity, often combining food & drink, crafts, fashion, homewares and live music all in one place. The atmosphere is more relaxed and friendly compared to shopping centres, and the focus is on small independent producers. People enjoy supporting local business and being able to talk to the stall holders first-hand about the product, and finding out about new products and producers who debut their wares at markets.

Which is your favourite market you have visited?

It’s difficult to pick a favourite because each market is special in its own way. Old Spitalfields Market and Spitalfields E1 offer a great variety of goods and food options and is covered, so suitable for all weathers which is a plus during the colder months! We’re excited to launch our next venture at Canopy Market though.

What do you think of the food scene in London at the moment?

It’s incredible how much it continues to develop and grow. I think we must have one of the most diverse food scenes in the world – you can find any type of cuisine you want here. There are so many street food markets popping up all over the city, and it’s getting impossible to keep up with the sheer volume of new openings each month!

What do you think the new food trends will be for 2017?

I think technology will play a huge roll in the food & drink industry next year. We’ve already seen the rise of on-demand deliveries with the launch of Deliveroo, UberEATS and Amazon Restaurants, and I’ve no doubt that this will become more advanced in the months to come with better apps and means of delivery – maybe even drones?! There’s a shift to new tech inside restaurants as well, with interactive ordering and payment systems making service more streamlined, and apps offering customers the chance to interact with restaurants and gain loyalty rewards.

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To shop Crosstown Doughnuts, visit the Canopy Market, trading from Friday 28 10am-6pm, Saturday 29 10am-4pm, Sunday 30 10am-4pm, at King’s Cross.

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