Case study

Hard Lines

We interviewed the directors of an independent coffee and vinyl shop based in Cardiff.

Espresso machine is pouring a coffee.

Hard Lines is an independent coffee shop based in Cardiff, south Wales. It was set up by Matthew Jones and Sophie Smith, and they specialise in high quality coffee and vinyl records.

Matthew and Sophie met at university. After they graduated, they decided to take the plunge and turn their individual passions into a full-time business.

The company started off as a pop-up business selling at festivals and events. In October 2016, they moved into a permanent building in Cardiff. A year later, they opened their second shop in the city’s central market.

Case study: Hard Lines

Sophie said:

Becoming a limited company, was one of the first things we did.

This gave them limited liability status and they felt there was “less risk if things don’t go to plan”. They used an accountant to help them incorporate the company.

Setting up their business, the duo has had a few obstacles along the way.

Early on, they discovered that their original company name was already registered as a trade mark by another party. Considering all their options, they made the difficult decision to rebrand. They chose a name that they could register as a company, and register as their own trade mark. ‘Hard Lines’ was born.

Sophie explained:

We wanted to build a brand that could be more than a coffee shop. It could include merchandise or run events and festivals. Ownership of the name both as a company and a trade mark was a key consideration.

They both said that long hours, staffing needs and keeping a balance between their work and personal lives were big challenges. But they both agree, that their passion carries them though.

Man at coffee machine, grinding beans. Stands in front of Hard Lines wall menu.

Matthew said:

Being in control of the business, the freedom to express ourselves and make our own decisions – from choosing products to which businesses we deal with – are the most satisfying qualities of running our own company.

Sophie added:

It’s hard work and long hours but, ultimately, we’re doing what we want.

Matthew and Sophie have a desire to offer something unique and to grow their business. Securing their place in the city’s thriving independent food and drink scene, they have developed their brand and what products they offer. Looking further ahead, they want to one day run an entirely self-sufficient and sustainable business.

Admitting that starting your own business can be a big learning curve, Sophie’s advice is:

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People are always willing to help if you’re willing to put in the work.

Listen to our latest podcast as Matthew and Sophie discuss the challenges they faced setting up their business.

Published 29 June 2018
Last updated 12 July 2018 + show all updates
  1. Link to podcast added.
  2. First published.