From sculpture to bagels!

Julian Engelsman was awarded a BA(Hons) in Fine Art Sculpture in 1994 and today finds himself running Joyful Foods, selling all-natural, plant-based, gluten-free energy bars under the brand Joyfuel.

So where’s the link?

Julian started selling bagels to help finance his studies at the University of Brighton: “You’d be surprised how my sculpture degree impacted on my bagel business…I was making sculptures out of huge slabs of bread at one time, while selling bagels to staff and students.

“I spent two mornings a week with a red box over my shoulder delivering filled bagels, pickles and treats to shops and offices in central Brighton and Kemptown. It proved very popular. I had my kitchen in a Southover Street student house, approved by Environmental Health.

“Leftover bagels were sold or shared with staff and students at the then sculpture school in Belgrave Street.

“I made sculptures out of bread dough too, quite dark pieces based on feelings from childhood and my Jewish heritage. Many were embedded with plaster teeth (my father was a dentist so denture models were often around the house a lot). I loved the way the teeth kind of exploded out of the dough, half eating it, half being eaten by it.

“Some people thought they just were funny objects. Others saw them like clinkers from the Holocaust. I baked large pieces, even suitcases full of the stuff, and cast some in solid lead, one of which was chosen as a Ben Uri Art Gallery exhibit. For me it was a perfect bitter-sweet metaphor.

“I also spent a good part of my second year making work and installations in a similar vein at a disused building in Vine Street which had in its time been both a brewery and kosher slaughterhouse.

“In the offices, everyone called me ‘Bagelman’ so when I graduated, after a short while in a lonely artist’s garret making a series of books out of bread sacks and some weird installations out of honey, milk and sea sponges, I decided business could be creative too, so I started Bagelman for real.

“I taught myself all I needed to be a bagel baker, drew on some previous experience as a nursing home cook, and set up the first Bagelman unit at the flagship Sussex Innovation Centre on Sussex University campus at Falmer.

“It was quite a leap from the office delivery – a pristine, high-profile 45-seat restaurant and bakery.

“While designing and equipping the new building, I set up a bakery in a former chemistry lab on campus and started four delivery rounds, to Brighton, Hove, Lewes and Burgess Hill. The restaurant proved really popular, not just with the business tenants, but also students and staff across the Falmer campus.

“Three years later, I opened a second shop in Brighton’s North Laine in Bond Street, which soon became our HQ. By the time we had moved out of the Innovation Centre seven years later, we had expanded into a three-storey warehouse behind the Bond Street shop, which became our central bakery, office and outside catering unit.

“The Hove Bagelman opened shortly after, offering a fuller restaurant menu, followed by a third Brighton store in the Lanes at Ship Street.

“Our delivery service, which began at the Innovation Centre, grew rapidly into providing buffets and hundreds of daily filled bagels at seven different student union shops on both the Sussex and University of Brighton campuses and buildings including Mithras House, Grand Parade and Cockcroft.

“At its peak, we baked and sold nearly half a million bagels a year, and employed around 30 staff.

“In 2007, Bagelman was awarded Sussex Best Small Business of the Year and in 2011, after 15 years at the helm, I hung up my oven gloves and sold the business to concentrate on family and a personal writing project (an elaboration of my undergraduate art thesis.)

“In the summer of 2017, after some planning, I started a new company Joyful Foods,

which has introduced a range of all-natural, plant-based, gluten-free pick-me-ups (energy bar squares) under the brand Joyfuel.”

Julian, Founder and Managing Director of Worthing-based Joyfuel, says he has one simple aim: “To make better energy bars, in every sense, so you can eat better, treat better, perform better, feel better.”

He may have moved a long way away from his university studies but individualism, the sculptor’s guiding light, is engrained in his business: “We don’t believe in a ‘one-recipe-fits-all’ (Lawd knows, we tried!), because everyone’s different with different needs, different moods, different desires.

“Plus we change too, from season to season, week to week, day to day, even moment to moment. We’re getting personal.”

Hannah is one to watch

Major fashion brands are keeping a close watch on University of Brighton graduate Hannah Croft.

Hannah is fast developing a reputation as a “material futurist”, creating unusual and unique concepts including one new fabric which has crystals “growing” in it.

She has exhibited in Italy’s fashion capital Milan and will be showing at the Surface Design Show in February. She has also worked on projects in movies including Paddington 2 and is giving talks at Lineapelle Show in London and New York in early 2019.

Hannah’s career journey started after graduating with a Textiles with Business Studies BA(Hons) from the University of Brighton in 2008 and later with an MA distinction in textile design innovation from Nottingham Trent.

She first worked in London but found she couldn’t fully exploit her creativity and so moved to her home city of Leicester and opened her own design and fabric studio MUUNA.

Specialising in woven and embroidered fabric, Hannah received funding to buy specialist equipment from the Sir Thomas White Loan Charity which supports start-ups in and around Leicester.

The equipment included a loom and digital software which “allows me to create a technical design file to accompany a physical fabric swatch which clients can use to reproduce my designs for production. This helps speed up development of my work”.

Hannah’s designs are now marketed through an agent, allowing her to concentrate on experimentation and research. Her unique materials are being showcased in material libraries globally including the USA and she counts the likes of Givenchy and Disney among past clients.

Hannah said: “It has been an exciting year for me and I’m proud of everything I have achieved so far.”

Hannah looked back at her time in Brighton: “Brighton is a really special place, there is nowhere else like it and studying there for four years was a pivotal point in my life.

“I feel the course was such a good foundation – I got the opportunity to intern in New York and London whilst on my industrial placement year. These experiences whilst both very different gave me invaluable experience and insight into the industry.

“There are many lessons I learned at Brighton that I’m still coming back too and of course it’s where I was taught to weave, a skill I probably would never have learned had I not done the course as at the time there were so few textiles courses in the country that offered this as a specialism. I was a real novice at weaving back then and struggled technically but years later I got the opportunity to try it again and it fell into place.

“Without my time at Brighton, this wouldn’t have happened.”

The Gritterman’s back

A Brighton graduate and former member of indie rock band The Maccabees will see his children’s story about a man who grits roads performed on stage next month.

The tale of a seasonal hero and the work he loves will be playing in theatres in London and Manchester with Fast Show comic Paul Whitehouse narrating.

The Gritterman was created by Orlando Weeks who graduated from the University of Brighton with an Illustration BA(Hons) degree in 2006.

Twelve years have passed but Orlando said the city and University were still a big part of his life. He told the University last year: “I had wonderful time at Brighton. I made friends there that are still dear to me now.

“I worked alongside people who I still look to for inspiration. Brighton was a place that encouraged creativity and was full of people making things, starting bands, having exhibitions.

“It was at Brighton that my tutors pointed out that anything I was doing in one discipline could and should feed into other areas. This one piece of advice has stuck with me and The Gritterman is my attempt at combining the types of making (drawing, writing and music) that I enjoy the most.”

Orlando spent a decade with the Maccabees and in 2016, when the group disbanded, he started writing and illustrating The Gritterman, his first book. The story’s hero uses his vehicle as an ice-cream van in summer but it is in the winter when he is a gritterman

that “he comes into his own” until the council insists his services are no longer required.

The stage show premiered at London’s Union Chapel and will be at the same theatre on 10 and 11 December and at Albert Hall Manchester on 12 December.

The book, by Penguin, comes with an album narrated by Paul Whitehouse.