Meet the Artisans: In Conversation with Katy Saide, Co-Founder of Trove
A store of valuable or delightful things
As a writer I often whittle away the days frequenting coffee shops, willfully assuming the role of bystander, privy to the many exchanges of human interaction - the lifeblood of cafe culture - secretly hopeful that a conversation between friends will stoke something akin to inspiration or at the very least provide a welcome distraction.
The habits I keep have led me to seek out writing environments in an almost Goldilocks fashion so, as you can imagine, finding just the right spot can be quite the challenge. Given my extensive snag list It was rather fortuitous to discover late last year that Trove, the vanguard of Levnehsulme’s cafe culture scene was about to set up shop in the heart of Ancoats.
A regular haunt of mine, the Cutting Room Square location is alluring for those wanting to fly below the radar, to revel in anonymity, yet feel part of something wholly collective and communal. There are no pretences with Trove, the assured, but never arrogant atmosphere of the bakery and cafe is infectious; never have I found it so simple to put pen to paper.
Katy Saide, one third of the Trove’s founding team, embodies this considered and relaxed approach, an impressive feat for someone who sits at the helm of one of Manchester’s most exciting food and drink ventures. While she now occupies a predominantly back-of-house role, her wisdom, style and passion is everywhere to be seen. From the minimalist interiors to the fika-inspired atmosphere, it is clear that her presence permeates the entirety of Trove, imbuing the next wave of artisans with the confidence to see through their original mission; organic produce made from scratch, with community front and centre.
Throughout Trove’s journey, from the stalls of Levenshulme market, selling homemade jams and chutneys, to the inheritance of one rather decrepit coffee machine, to the bricks and mortar expansion and city-centre accession, community has been at the heart of what they do, earning them great love and affection from the suburbs of M19 to the former cotton mills of Ancoats.
Perhaps it is a testament to the wholesome manner in which Trove goes about its business that makes it so appealing. Virtually all of their fresh produce is made by hand, from the hugely-popular sourdough bread which draws in punters from across the city, resulting in queues that often meander around the block, to the seasonal jams and curds, the bakery prides itself on making whatever it can from scratch, sourcing it locally and using only the best ingredients.
Reflecting the unassuming spirit and warmth of their home city, Katy attributes their success to the way in which they conduct themselves, “we’re not trying to be anyone else,” she professes. Perhaps then, the allure of Trove is that just like Manchester, it is unapologetically itself, personifying the inherently hardworking and rebellious spirit of its location. Having both grown up in South Manchester, Katy and her husband Marcus, are well-placed to comment on the evolution of Levenshulme, where they first set up shop back in 2011.
As Katy notes, unlike the surrounding suburbs of West Didsbury and Chorlton, there has been a much slower pace of gentrification throughout the M19 postcode enabling it to retain its status as a hidden gem, while also paving the way for the next generation of entrepreneurs and 21st century shopkeepers. In the past few years, Levenshulme has seen a string of new and exciting independent businesses flock to its High Street, from Station Hop to Nordie, and has naturally welcomed these newcomers with open arms, in the same way that Trove was when it opened its doors eight years ago.
Always unafraid to experiment, Trove, the “fresh food rebels” are all about collaboration and lending a hand, a way of repaying those who helped them when they first launched the concept. In the early days of selling their wares, fellow shopkeepers, such as Oklahoma and Eighth Day Co-op would save jam jars for them, so it makes sense that they should want to continue to foster and strengthen this community spirit.
Beyond supplying numerous cafes and shops across the region with their infamous bakes, Trove continues to host a number of supper clubs which champion fellow independents, creators and makers. For Katy there is a real beauty in this open-minded and supportive community, likewise Trove’s choice of locations exemplifies this straightforward and collaborative way of doing things.
The same can be said for the way that Trove looks after its own, which is apparent in the way that Katy humbly reels off a list of all those who have had a hand in the continued success of the business. From Will Sutton, their barista who completely changed their coffee offering, to Isabelle Jenkins who elevated their food concept, plus many more behind the scenes, Katy is hugely grateful to all of the individuals who have helped to make Trove the local treasure that it is.
Handing over the reigns in this way has also given Katy the creative space to pursue ventures outside of Trove, such as assisting small independents with their branding, curating exhibitions with like-minded businesses and honing her photography skills, not to mention a well-deserved break with Slow Escapes, a mindfulness and craft focused retreat which celebrates a more considered approach towards travel.
When she’s not working, Katy makes sure to visit to some of her favourite Manchester and Leeds neighbours, from Idle Hands, to Ox Club, Laynes Espresso and Sugo Kitchen, supporting brands and businesses that, much like Trove, do good for the community and give credence to the notion that we will continue to be a proud and collectively-minded nation of Shopkeepers.
Make sure to stop off at Trove for:
Levenshulme: Homemade croissant loaf, British strawberries, mascarpone, basil seed & lemon crumble, basil and honey.
Ancoats: Asparagus, poached eggs, broad bean hummus and za’atar on toasted sourdough.
To peruse a seasonal selection of Trove’s latest dishes and to find out more about their current event series, head over to their website.
Trove photography by Jordan Michael