Wild Bytes Café – Coffee. Connections. Community.

We’re lucky enough to have a couple of independent cafés in our area which are incredibly unique and increasingly treasured by local people. We visited Wild Bytes Café , the excellent internet cafe on Darlington Street and caught up with owner, Samantha Pitfield following her Natwest Enterprise Award win at the Princes Trust Celebrate Success Awards. From Samantha, we discover the difficult periods she overcame, the motivation that drives her to succeed and why she feels Wolverhampton needs a place like Wild Bytes.

“I wanted to make a valuable contribution to my community and help locals in their quest for a better life” – Samantha Pitfield

 

First of all, tell us a bit about yourself & your background..

Born and bred in Wolverhampton, I was educated at Tettenhall College during the ’90s and enjoyed spending time in town and at West Park. At 16, I moved to Cyprus and worked for a Scuba diving company while doing my A levels. I had developed a passion for Theatre during my early years and returned to the UK to attend University near London. I graduated from Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, with a BA (Hons) in Stage Management and worked behind the scenes in the Theatre Industry for 8 years.

I left showbiz behind in favour of motherhood, and after suffering a number of miscarriages, I was going to have a baby. Everything was going really well and my baby boy was growing to a healthy size. We decided on a name and planned for the future. At this point, I was completely unaware of the trials I would have to face as a mother. The impact of his tiny life, changed me forever.

On 15th July 2009 I gave birth to my son, Kael. He arrived a week early, but I was happy to see him. Unfortunately there were serious complications and he was kept in a neonatal ward for days. They kept him on the ventilator as long as they could before deciding to let nature take its course. We removed the tubes and prepared to say goodbye.

It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. I will never forget the pain. After 27 hours without breathing assistance, he passed away on the morning of 19th. I sat on the bed with Kael on my chest and held him as he took his last few breaths and then he was gone. I lost him. It broke my heart. I’ll never forget.

I was thrown into a whirlwind of emotional distress, yet the desire to have a baby consumed me. All I wanted was to be a mother. After losing Kael, I felt that no-one understood what I was going through. A lot of people told me, to ‘move on and get a job’, and to ‘stop focusing on the past and look forward to the future’. I felt pressured to ‘get over it’, but I had no know idea how to do that?

After a period of intense depression, I moved back to my hometown and tried to ‘get a grip’. I went through another pregnancy only this time I got to take my baby girl home and it was the best feeling in the world. Becoming a mother and getting to spend every day with her as she grew, felt amazing. I was starting to be more positive. I was finally ready to ‘move on’.

Wolverhampton has a great creative scene… I would like to collaborate with this crowd to help regenerate the city and provide a space for local culture to flourish.

 

Wild Bytes Café appears to be becoming more successful by the month – what was your initial inspiration behind starting the business and setting up in Wolverhampton?

One evening while sitting in my garden admiring my homegrown tomatoes, the muse caught me and I was inspired. My daughter was approaching her 2nd birthday and like many parents I wanted her to grow up in a healthy, prosperous city. I wanted to make a valuable contribution to my community and help locals in their quest for a better life. I didn’t know how to do that, but I knew I had to do something. After a week of brainstorming with my partner, I was beginning to find a way.

Initially, I wanted to turn a double decker bus into a ‘not-for-profit’ mobile internet café. Soon after, I came to realise that if I settled down and opened a profitable local business, I could provide a stable life for my family and maybe inspire others in my community to do the same.

I got to work setting the café up in Wolverhampton City Centre in 2013, with a view to open in 2014. I had been looking at properties all over the city for a while but always came back to one favourite. 15 Darlington St. The old art shop on the corner by ‘Beatties’, House of Fraser. It had been unused as a retail space since 2010, when The Paint Box, an independent art supply shop, stopped trading. It was a special building and had been left to deteriorate. I felt the need to fix it up and bring some life back in to it. So I did.

Sami on a busy evening at Wild Bytes

 

Ideally, where would you like to see Wild Bytes in five years time?

Wild Bytes is still young and has a lot of growing to do.  At the moment, we are very happy to serve the local community and although I have lots of ideas for the immediate future, eventually it would be great to open other branches in the UK. Everyone needs a place like Wild Bytes in their life, and the ultimate goal would be to go global. For now, I am happy to take each day as it comes, anticipate the future and be flexible.

 You’re an award winner! How did that feel – and was it at all expected?

Sami receives her award (Photograph is property of the Princes Trust)

 

It feels wonderful to be recognised for my efforts, but I genuinely didn’t expect to win. The Prince’s Trust helps a huge number of people overcome serious difficulties to achieve their dreams, so I was really pleased just to be nominated. I didn’t think I’d get through to the finals, let alone be named the winner.

I have been told by a couple of people that Wild Bytes has given them a reason to come to the city again, which is encouraging to hear.

The Natwest Enterprise Award certificate is proudly displayed in the café

 

You run a couple of regular event evenings – how are they going, and do you plan more?

Being able to host events is amazing and we are really pleased that so many people have joined us. We get locals and out-of-towners who are all very happy to pop in to the city for a friendly evening of socialising. I have been told by a couple of people that Wild Bytes has given them a reason to come to the city again, which is encouraging to hear.

We have a couple of game nights, a wool night and a writers meet up, that take place fortnightly. We also host a poetry night called ‘Viva Voce’, which was initially held once a month, but is now every other month. We also host Open Mics on occasion. Recently we started putting on Art Exhibitions upstairs at the Café and officially launched the ‘Gallery’ at our first anniversary bash. The next one will be from an artist called Jimmy Riddle, which we hope to launch in the run up to Christmas.

Between Beatties and the Post Office, Wild Bytes occupies the old art shop at the entrance to Townwell Fold

The Wolverhampton Green Party has also been  hosting their meetings at Wild Bytes since the beginning of the year and have committed to another year with us despite offers  from other venues in the city.

We are always open to suggestions for new events and try to accommodate a range of groups. We hope to be seen as a great place for the community to host meetings and get togethers, put on classes as well as shows. Wolverhampton has a great creative scene – Musicians, Poets, Artists, Storytellers, Writers, Entrepreneurs and Designers to name a few of the specialities – I would like to collaborate with this crowd to help regenerate the city and provide a space for local culture to flourish.

 

Describe Wild Bytes in 3 words..

Coffee. Connections. Community.

 

For all the latest on Wild Bytes Cafe, visit:

https://www.facebook.com/WildBytesCafeAndLounge/

https://wildbytescafe.wordpress.com/

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