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Conversation With…Shelby Foord

Where we chat with Shelby Foord, MarketPlace Creative Collective member and owner of The Barleycorn Cafe in Mildenhall

September 2019

So tell us a little bit about you and about The Barleycorn Cafe.

I did a creative degree years ago, then I fell into sales as something that I loved but I’ve always worked in creative type industries, whether it was makeup, advertising, magazines and publishing, but this was a dream of mine; creating a hub. I’d lived here for a year and a half and I didn’t know anyone. There were real gaps in the creative side, in the well-ness side and in the good food side. Mildenhall has a plethora of takeaways but nothing that’s really healthy and gorgeous. For me, my intention for here is to create something that is healing in every aspect for people. Whether it’s their creativity, their tummy, their wellness as far as well-being and mental health. 

What is it that makes The Barleycorn a hub?

Talking to people, it’s got to be communication. Even just the conversation we had this morning about singing groups around here, there used to be groups years ago – 20 years ago, I mean for goodness sake! Let’s fill that gap and if it makes people feel good, then let’s do it! 

Our surgery really appreciates what we’re doing and we’re part of that network. Some people are nursing husbands or partners that are terminally ill, some that are recently bereaved, or recovering from breast cancer – everyone here has got a story. The art journaling was really good for that. Everyone who comes into this place are coming in and feeding their energy into this environment. I just think it’s fascinating.

How does the Meet Up Monday’s programme affect you and your business? 

It’s the hardest thing. I would devote all my time to just doing stuff for nothing, but then with my business – someone is knocking on my head saying “you’ve got to earn a bit of money” and “it’s got to pay the bills”. You go full out into something and then you think, I’ve got to leave some of my energy to doing that side of things. But I think you can do the two together, it’s definitely doable. 

Where would you like to see The Barleycorn going in the future? 

I’d love for us to be seen as a go to destination for being friendly, offering creative options and just really for people to feel safe. I’d love this to be art based 24/7, with different projects going on because I am really selfish, I only do things that I like. There isn’t going to be any washing up clubs that’s for sure. 

The key areas at the moment are loneliness, we’ve got a lot of people that are bereaved, especially the gentlemen, the wife might be the source of contact and then sadly they’re at the age where they lose their wife and they lose that entry into a social life. Also, post-natal, you can see there’s a need there and it might not be a typical mother and baby group. And the youngsters, you get so many issues and it’s all aired on Facebook – children running riot and doing damage. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if rather than concentrate on the negatives, we could actually do something that was going to be a positive influence?