Meet Caroline, the Founder of Buena Onda

When we ask our members why they started their business, one of the most common answers is: “being my own boss!” This is at the centre of our latest campaign – the joy of being able to organise your days and having all the decision-making power!

As part of our mission to celebrate those who work for themselves, we love nothing more than to put our members centre-stage. And what better way to do this than on national television with our latest TV advert, ‘Get More Joy Out Of Your Business’? 

Our new ad campaign features six real-life Tide members – we are thrilled to be introducing you to the stars of our latest campaign! For our third feature, meet Caroline the founder behind the family business Buena Onda!

Hi Caroline, great to chat with you today! Tell us about Buena Onda and what was your top motivation for starting?

We are a Mexican street food business based in Birmingham. We offer meat-free Mexican cooking, mixing homestyle and street food style. 

I run Buena Onda with my mum, and we started it to spend time together cooking the food that we love, as well as meet new people.

What does Buena Onda mean?

Good vibes! It’s a very common phrase in Mexico. Somebody says, “how was it?”, you say “buena onda”. It carries more than just through the food – it’s the atmosphere, the music. We’ve added little touches of ‘buena onda’ throughout our business, just to add that genuine Mexican touch.

What a great name! And what were you doing before, what inspired the transition?

Following a move back to Birmingham, I was working in sales for a student accommodation company. It was monotonous and I knew that I wasn’t interested in progressing any further. One day, I saw an Instagram ad looking for experienced food traders. I messaged them, asking if they’d be willing to take a chance and they booked us in for three weeks – eight days later, we were up and running and trading! 

At the time, we just wanted to see what would happen – we haven’t stopped since. Business took off from there and we’ve been booked and growing day by day.

That’s a fantastic way to start! What does growing your business look like for you?

At the moment, with the cost of living crisis, we aren’t looking to open our own establishment but want to continue growing our social media audience and throwing more supper clubs. We currently do pop-ups, supper clubs, and trade all over the south of Birmingham. We’re constantly in new venues and we’ve been doing much larger parties.

What do you love the most about running your company?

The freedom to move around and adapt our menu based on the weather, the venue, and the occasion. We love to test different recipes and keep things interesting; almost every other weekend, we’re in a different place. 

Can you tell us about your recipes and where they come from? What’s your favourite one?

Without a doubt, my favourite recipe is mum’s Mole Poblano, an ancient Mexican rich sauce reserved for special occasions. She got the recipe from her elder sisters, who she FaceTimes when she cooks at home. It’s made up of a huge number of ingredients with various chillies, nuts, Mexican chocolate being the main ones. It’s something that I definitely want to master!

What makes you such a good team, do you think?

I think hosting definitely runs in our blood. While we may get anxious when we’re waiting for the doors to open, as soon as the first few dishes have gone out, or we shut the doors and pull the tablecloths off, we feel a huge sense of pride.

We’ve recently shared a Women in Business survey that revealed 19% of our female members cited gender as a barrier to successfully launching their business.* Do you have any thoughts on this?

I’m not sure that it’s something that has hindered me. I would say that the street food scene in general is male dominated but I’ve met some incredible female business owners who have become friends. 

Why did you decide to choose Tide as your business account?

I chose Tide after discovering that they support small catering businesses. I hadn’t heard of Tide before but after some quick research, I read some great reviews and decided to download the app and open my account.

We are a very creative business and the thought of thinking about numbers, chasing payments and making payments was very daunting. Tide means that everything’s in one place. 

The Tide feature that I use the most would be the receipt importer that links directly to my Xero accounting software. We just tap our receipts into it – it’s one less thing to do,  making life so much easier.

What Tide feature helps you as a team?

When we initially started the business, we were all living under one roof and sharing one card. That didn’t last long; I moved out again and we decided to take out an expense card each. Now, there’s three between us, which means everyone does their own shopping and uploads their own receipts – it’s so much simpler! There’s also the option to freeze the card if it has been lost, which has definitely happened! Everything’s all in one place and a lot more organised.

What’s the biggest challenge for your business at the moment?

The cost of living crisis is hugely challenging at the moment. Rising food costs, bills, cost of disposable plates and cutlery. 

What’s one tip you would give to people who want to start their own food business? 

Don’t forget to have fun with it, while you’re also focusing on the business ideas and plan. Your heart needs to be in it as well as your head.

*The Tide member survey was conducted between 3 and 7 February 2023, with 1,961 total respondents.

Valentine Hutchings

Valentine Hutchings

Head of Community and small business enthusiast

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