In Conversation With… Jo Overfield

Jo OverfieldJo Overfield runs a food pop-up in Leigh-on-Sea called Beep Beep Pop. She is also the Artistic Director of Sundown Arts, a non-profit mixed arts organisation and is a writer. She credits her parents Kay and David, her ‘brilliant older sister’ and her partner for providing regular inspiration.

Jo’s career has been varied and never followed a conventional path. She spent 10 years working in schools and colleges within their special educational needs departments. Alongside that she ran her arts organization, did events work, wrote for magazines and fanzines and worked in PR and marketing for up-and-coming bands. She then started working in the catering and hospitality industry, becoming a director of her own community café, and now manages her own pop-up.

What are you working on now?

I currently host the coffee mornings at the Fishermen’s Chapel in Leigh-on-Sea where together we are trying to build on the community within this area of Leigh and also to help the chapel boost their visitors. We also host an afternoon tea with live vintage music here, every first Friday of the month. We have also started to collaborate on food & wine matching evenings with local, independent wine shop, Vino Vero.

Describe your first job

Age 14 at Sport & Ski, Eastgate Centre, Basildon. My job was to sell the sport and ski equipment on the shop floor. I knew nothing about skiing. Although roller blades had just come out, so I sold my first pair to an unsuspecting young woman – I was chuffed to bits! I was terribly paid I seem to remember.

Who or what has been your biggest source of inspiration to date?

My family for their strong work ethic and for being good, wise, people. Also great, pioneering female writers and performers who also produced their own work like Lucille Ball, Lily Tomlin, Victoria Wood and those today such as Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham and many others. I would like to add Mary Portas too for her strength with branding, her vision and the way she works with people.

Jo Overfield

Where do you feel most inspired?

In the kitchen, reading recipes. Visiting London for street food, markets, new pop-ups, coffee shops and restaurants. In terms of writing then it’s in life, in people, queuing at the supermarket, waiting for a bus or what I’ve overheard in the street.

What did you want to be when you were little?

A cartoonist and a journalist.

What was the best piece of advice you ever received?

A fairly famous person once told me to stop apologising for myself, it was a good kick up the backside.

What are you most proud of?

Running Sundown for 12 years and counting, the people we’ve booked and the reputation I’ve worked hard to build. Also taking over a café and making it my own.

What has been your career highlight to date?

There’s been a few actually: receiving Arts Council funding more than once; booking Frank Sidebottom before he died; writing in the BBC Radio 4 building with a team of other writers; the launch day when I opened my café.

Beep Beep Pop
Which one thing would you like to change about your industry/working life?

The security. Although it shapes who you are and how you cope.

Who is your favourite fictional female character?

Candice Marie Pratt. Or Ripley in the Alien films.

Right Now I’m….

Watching – The People vs OJ Simpson

Reading – ‘My Life On The Road’ by Gloria Steinem

Listening to – Link Wray and the Wraymen

Pass it on:

Who would you most like to see featured on this blog?

Writer and stand up comedian – Josie Long @JosieLong

Freelance film producer – Jo Farrugia @jofarrugia

Music writer and biographer – Zoe Howe @zoehowe

Author: Jo Olney

Sister, mother, marketer, plate spinner/smasher.

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