Meet: The Man Behind The FairgroundBy Angelica Malin
You might have come across Dominic Cools-Lartigue’s work without even knowing it.The founder of ever-popular Street Feast has just launched a brand new pop-up destination for Londoners. Not content with revolutionising street food, Dominic Cools-Lartigue has created Fairground, a unique festival experience showcasing the best of the capital – from up-and-coming and established music acts, to street food, restaurateurs, thinkers and entrepreneurs.
Taking over three floors of a disused office block in Haggerston, each level has a distinctive and extraordinary experience, from the ground floor live event space, to the top floor restaurant via the mid-floor Grandaad lounge, a creative hang out space. With no two weekends the same, each Fairground ride is set to be very special indeed… We caught up with the man behind it all to find out what inspired the venue:
So, Dom, you’ve had a fantastic career thus far with Street Feast & Hawker House. Tell me about the idea behind the new venture…
Having hung out in East London for 20 years now, I’m acutely aware of how important a role the creative industries have played in inspiring the regeneration in the area through out that time. At a time now when that creative spirit is being overshadowed by rampant commercialism, I feel its important to have a hub where those with an interest in the creative arts had a place to hang out, interact, perform, and learn .
Why did you want to create something that was cultural as well as foodie, especially when the foodie events do so well
I don’t believe in replicating, I’m always looking to build and create something new. Even with Street Feast we’re constantly looking at how we can improve on the experience. Food is a passion of mine, but so is music, I spent over 15 years putting on music events before Street Feast. I also love fashion and design, and so do so many other people. So why not have somewhere like Fairground where people with a wide range of cultural interests can get together. Food is still central to this because it plays such an important role in bringing people together, which is something I enjoy doing.
How would you describe the vibe of Fairground in 3 words
Vibrant dining club.
Street Feast is quite a trend-based concept, bringing together food stalls & companies that are on the pulse of London. How do you stay on top of trends and do you worry that the buzz will die because of this…
While I understand the focus on trends, its not something I concern myself with. I focus on quality, authenticity, passion, and excellence. People, products and businesses that exude those qualities are what I’m interested in, whether they happen to be trendy or not I leave for journalists to worry about.
How important is social media for what you do?
Social media is obviously very important to what we do. Street Feast has just passed 30,000 followers built up organically in just two years. However I place equal stock in street promotion, engaging with the people around you and your business, face to face, is such a simple but powerful form of marketing that so many overlook in this digital age.
Where would you like to be in a year’s time
On holiday with my son. Its Easter holidays right now and I cant take any time off because we’ve just launched Fairground. I’m not planning on launching any new businesses around Easter next year, so I’d like to take him to the Caribbean for the first time to meet the rest of his family.
In a year’s time, all Londoners will be:
Eating: Brisket Bourguignon Burger at The Model Market in Lewisham
Drinking: Detox Cleanse by Juice Club @ Selfridges (or all over London) – Spinach, Kale, Celery, Cucumber, Apple, Lime – maybe with a touch of pineapple Dancing in: In our new location for Fairground
What are you most proud of in your career
Creating something in Street Feast, that has real cross generational appeal. Despite the fact that some people get obsessed with hipsters or trends, for me food cuts across all of that. Its just food, we’ve all got to eat, and at Street Feast we’re focussed on providing the best food we can find, and that’s attracting people from a whole cross section of the community, which is hugely important to me.
What advice would you give other budding entrepreneurs wanting to follow a path such as yours in London
Do what you really want to do. The thing I look for most in food traders is authenticity. If you’re going to give up that boring job you hate to finally start your own business, make sure its something you really want to do, because being your own boss is not easy. However it is made easier if what you’re working on is also a passion of yours, you’ll be connected to it that bit stronger. Also, make sure you’re honest about your own strengths, and surround yourself with people who plug the gaps in your own skillset. None of us can do it all, and though you may have to at the very beginning, be aware of what areas of support you can invest in once you can afford it.
Fairground runs in East London for 10 weekends from April 12th 2014 – more information here. Look out for this:
Dazed Vision Masterclass: The Future of Video and Moving Image
2-4pm at Fairground
This Saturday, Dazed Vision – the in-house video arm of Dazed will be discussing how they tell powerful, engaging stories for broadcast and online. They will explain the intersection between online, TV, fashion, art and music referencing recent Dazed successes including a 5-part music documentary series commissioned by Channel 4, Music Nation and a female director’s initiative Females First that has caught the public’s attention. Featuring special guests from the industry including a director, producer and editor.