Joss Barker, Co-Founder of Evie Loves Toast
If you were to ask anybody in Cobham to name a shop in the town, it’s likely that Evie Loves Toast would be one of the first that springs to mind. Blending contemporary clothing from Scandinavia and Britain alongside an exclusive range of jewellery and accessories, Evie Loves Toast has become a hit with the Cobham community – so much so that a second shop, Little Evie, was launched in late 2021. But what makes the shop so special, who’s behind the growing brand … and why is it called Evie Loves Toast? The shop’s co-founder, Joss Barker, explains.
My mum had a gift shop in Teddington when I was growing up, so I quickly became the Saturday girl. We lived in Hampton Court at the time, so it was really easy to get to. I worked with mum for a long time before I had the opportunity to move to the US, where I ended up running a children’s talent agency.
After four years my heart wasn’t in it and it was time to come home, but I didn’t have a job to come back to, so I spent a lot of time hanging around Starbucks in Cobham with friends. In fact, that’s where I was when my friend’s dad drove past, opened the window and shouted ‘Girls, will you go and get a job!’. He was right, of course. However, his frustration coincided with an idea I had for a shop that catered for girls my age, which didn’t exist in Cobham at the time.
I approached my mum with the idea and she was really supportive. Before long, we’d launched a new shop together. At the time, my sister’s husband’s niece, Evie, was four years old. Whenever you suggested doing something nice, such as let’s go and get a cake, she would always give her standard reply, which was ‘No, Evie loves toast’. So, when it came to naming the shop – and after endlessly going through a number of different options – it was mum who suggested we call it Evie Loves Toast.
The name really took off, too. We even had an Evie wall, whereby everybody named Evie was invited to get their picture taken in front of the shop, which would then be hung on the dedicated wall within the shop.
Four years in, my sister, Rosie, returned from travelling in Australia and started to help us out in the shop. She loved it, so much so that she said that she wanted to be a part of the business. In 2015, she joined as a co-owner and now it really is a family business. During lockdown, we even got dad involved, too. When the pandemic took hold, we offered a delivery service as the shop was closed – so dad basically became our equivalent of DPD! We’d pack the orders, plan the delivery routes for him and then give him a call. He loved it, and was a bit disappointed when restrictions ended and the shop reopened, as it meant he was back to the day job!
People ask what it’s like working so closely with family, but I can honestly say we’ve never had a cross word. We all know our strengths and we all trust each other’s judgement. So, if one of us has an idea that we’re passionate about, the other two will just let them run with it; there’s no right or wrong, after all – we’re all just trying our best to make it work. And even now, despite all the time we spend together, we still have a roast dinner at one of our houses every Sunday. We try not to talk about work, but discussion always comes back to the shop.
I absolutely love what I do – but it really is the Cobham community that makes it. Our customers are incredibly loyal and supportive, there’s just no place like it. We had a shop in Wimbledon, but we let the lease go as we wanted to put all of our energy into Cobham, which is why we launched Little Evie. When you launch a shop, you really hope the community gets behind it and understands your buying choices. We’ve been delighted with the response, but again, it’s a Cobham thing; anywhere else just wouldn’t be the same.
I have twin daughters, Mimi and Bella, who are now six – and who are already contributing to the business. Only recently, when I was struggling to decide whether or not to stock a specific gift or a sparkling white top, Mimi insisted that we sell the white top. I decided to go with the gift item but get a few pieces of Mimi’s choice in simply to placate her. The funny thing is her choice sold out almost instantly – so she’s already making good business decisions!
It definitely feels a long way from Starbucks in 2011 now, and I’m proud that Evie Loves Toast has become so well-loved by the community. Who knows, maybe one or both of my daughters will work in one of the shops one day. If that does happen, we’ll be a three-generation family run business, which would be wonderful.
Evie Loves Toast. 1 Oakdene Parade, Cobham KT11 2LP
Are you looking to move in and around Cobham? If so, contact Grosvenor, a Cobham estate agent located on the High Street. Pop in to say ‘hello’ or contact us on 01932 588288.