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Provide bigs up Brum. Stag Family #13 – Matt Nation

You’ve probably seen them around town, the t-shirts with ‘Digbeth’ or ‘BHX’ printed on them or maybe a scarf with the word ‘BIRMINGHAM’ proudly woven into the fabric, and wondered where can I get one of those?

The answer is Provide. Started by Matt Nation in 2012, Provide has been championing all things Midlands over the last 8 years, drawing inspiration from the people, industries, architecture and history that surrounds us in Brum.

Collaborating with some of the finest creatives from across them Midlands to create original, high-quality and locally made products, Matt has been crafting a collection of clothing, products and impactful artwork. We caught up with Matt in December to find out more about the brand showing the world what the Midlands is all about.

The ‘BHX’ tee
How’s it going? 

‘It’s been a challenging year, but we’ve just had to roll with the punches, adapt and make things up as we go along! As we’re already an established online business it has meant that we are in a much better position than if we were just a physical shop.’

‘It’s still tough as we sell non-essential products and a lot of people’s finances have been affected which means not everyone has spare cash to spend on the things that they like to.’

‘The main thing is that we’ve managed to keep going and had a lot of support from customers old and new which I’m incredibly grateful for!’

What’s the story behind Provide?

‘I initially started thinking about Provide in 2011. I wanted to open a boutique where people could discover brands that were relatively unknown. The Provide shop opened in the Custard Factory in 2012. We sold products from different brands but to be honest the best sellers were the tee-shirts with the word ‘Digbeth’ and the Provide logo on them.’

The original Provide store which was based in the Custard Factory

‘People were really interested in the fact that they were made locally in Birmingham, so I started to use Birmingham as the inspiration for the shops products and the focus shifted to selling more solely Provide products.’

Provide’s designs take inspiration directly from visuals around the city

‘I then left the Custard Factory in 2015 and did two pop ups in the Great Western Arcade in 2015 and 2016.’

‘At the start of 2017 I decided to go online only. It was a difficult decision as having a physical presence was a core principle of the brand because I’m very interested in the concept of connection, whether it’s people, food, or the planet. We’re becoming increasingly disconnected, and having the store allowed me to create those relationships in person.’

‘It became apparent that the responsibilities of managing a store meant that I wasn’t as free to focus on the community building that I wanted to do. By closing the shop, it freed me up to do a lot more in terms of collaboration on products and events, so after making the switch, Provide evolved into a better version of itself.’

‘The benefit of being an online business you can reach a much wider community rather than just in store, and I feel that the stories that I’m telling about the area and it’s people through products deserve to be heard by a wider audience.’

Moving to an online store
What have been some of the highlights along the way?

‘I often answer questions in a similar kind of way, I don’t have specific events but it’s more the more I study the city and its people and its history, the more I am inspired by the collective identity and achievements of Birmingham.’

‘I think what really stands out to me is throughout history there has always been incredibly talented and successful businesses based here, but they have this hallmark of quietly grafting away. Other cities have reputations for quite forward self-promotion but with Brum there is so much great stuff going on underneath our noses that we don’t really know about. I’m no historian but I feel a lot of it comes from the industrial revolution.’

‘Manufacturing played a huge part in making the city of what it is along with a history of immigration, people coming from all over the world. With industry and communities of immigrants, you tend to get people who simply have to work hard to get by with no generational wealth to fall back on. I think the reason a lot of Brum’s success stories aren’t told as loudly as they should be is because the people behind them have been too busy grafting!’

‘That’s where I see Provide playing its part, I believe it exists as a platform to discover and share those stories.’

Some of the Birmingham inspired products
What is the end goal for the brand?

‘There is no end goal as Provide is an ongoing project, in the same way I’ve pivoted and adapted in the past I think that it will continue to happen.’

‘What I hope is that people recognise the integrity in what I’m doing and that I’m not trying to make a quick buck off the local trend. And that it’s about celebrating the city and the region.’

‘In the immediate future I hope to create more local artisan projects as it’s been really fun and one day it would be nice to have a publicly accessible space, but I would approach it slightly differently.’

‘I don’t think a shop can just be a shop anymore. We can buy what we want online, so you have to give people more of a reason to leave their house. I think I would focus on hosting events, lectures, film screenings or workshops and make it a space for the community.’

What makes Provide different to other brands?

‘I think that it is different in the sense that it aims to show the rich heritage of the region and what it has contributed to the world.’

‘When you look into the region, it shows numerous different people, how cool Birmingham is and what is has contributed to the world. If I can show the world what Birmingham has contributed through the products that I make, then I’ll be really happy to have been a part of that discovery.’

What are you working on at the minute? 

‘That would be the Midlands Artisan Project which is a product programme in which I seek out people and businesses across the east and west midlands creating great products and then I work with them to create new exclusive products.’

‘It could be a small family owned factory making the same product for 30-40 years or they might be making products for a particular market and will not have dealt with lifestyle brands before.’

‘It’s a way of continuing what I’ve been doing but focusing on people making things locally. It’s a project that helps support other local businesses, keeps the business in the region and the more I sell of their products the higher chance they have of keeping people in jobs and maybe hiring new people.’

Some of the candles made as part of the Midlands Artisan Project
How has this particular project been going? 

‘People are responding well to the fact that it’s locally made, especially this year and they’ve have doubled down on supporting local. In general everyone’s becoming more aware of their environmental impact so the fact that these products are made locally means they haven’t had to travel too far, and it’s easy to monitor manufacturing conditions!’

Matt Nation
You can keep up to date with Matt and all of Provide’s latest products on Instagram here, and you can check out the website here.

If you enjoyed this article check out the first episode in the Stag Talks series here!

We caught up with Pete Medlicott to find out about the past present and future of one of Birmingham’s most creative photographers.

Check out the video by Pritt Kalsi below to find out more!

Click these links to see Pete’s website and his Instagram accounts @sola_lightbombing and @petermedlicott

You can also find more of Pritt’s work on his website and his Instagram @kingofthebeatsrecords

It’s that time of year again when men of all capabilities try their best at growing a moustache in the name of men’s health. While there are currently over 6 million Mo Bros partaking in this challenge, the Movember movement has far more humble roots.

In 2003, Travis Garone and Luke Slattery met up for a casual pint, and joked about bringing back the moustache trend. By the following year, the concept of Movember had been formalised, and the duo began channelling donations into men’s health research and services.

Since its conception, Movember’s global network has funded more than 1,250 men’s health projects into prostate and testicular cancer, as well as men’s mental health schemes and suicide prevention.

Facing the Facts

Despite the progress made, men’s health remains in crisis: men still account for 75% of all suicides, testicular cancer remains the world’s most common cancer among men aged 15-39, and one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. And with one man dying from suicide every minute, it’s our job to ask ourselves why.

By pledging your support this Movember, you’ll be part of the change that we all wish to see, as your donations will fund medical research, trials and tests, as well as health programmes and treatments. And with the recent recurrence of tighter lockdown measures, raising awareness regarding mental health is more important than ever.

Men still account for 75% of all suicides

We’re Going the Extra Mile This Movember – Literally!

Calling the Stag family – it’s time to grow your Mo! Not wanting to be left out of the Movember party, our barber, Ethan, and barista, Max, are taking part too by growing their staches.

Those who aren’t blessed in the facial hair department aren’t being left out either, as the Stag family are aiming to collectively move as many miles as possible to raise money for Movember.

So swap your razors for your running shoes, and pledge your support to the men in your life by joining our Movember movers’ challenge.

As we can’t be together in person, staying connected this winter is crucial. Join our Strava group, tag us on social media when you’re on the move, and send us some pics of your stache! Keep an eye on our social media for giveaways and prizes along the way too. Like Travis Garone and Luke Slattery did back in 2003, we’re asking for a £10 suggested donation, which you can donate here.

By Beth Hutton

Have you ever walked into a coffee shop, stared at the seemingly endless list of coffee options, only to settle with the same coffee that you order every time? With the ever-increasing list of coffee choices and milk alternatives, it’s easy to see where the confusion can emerge. But what are you actually ordering? And how do you know that your coffee order is the best choice for you? With our straight-forward guide to understanding coffee styles, we invite you to step out of your coffee comfort zone.

Back to Basics: The Espresso

Also known as a short black, or a doppio for a double shot, the espresso provides the foundation to any espresso-based drink. As the most important component of your coffee, the quality of the espresso matters. Speaking to Max, one of Stag’s trained baristas, he says that “the expresso should be complex and full-bodied, with a velvety layer of crema on top”.

Not a fan of the intensity of an espresso? No problem – simply opt for an Americano; the richness of the espresso is retained, but the intensity is mitigated by a splash of hot water.

Know Your Foam: Latte vs Cappuccino

While the espresso remains at the heart of the latte and the cappuccino, the addition of steamed milk makes these two types of coffee ideal for those with a sweeter tooth. Understanding the difference between these two popular coffee styles ultimately boils down to one key concept: ratio. The latte is dominated by steamed milk, while the cappuccino is topped with a thicker layer of textured milk foam. Typically, the foam of the cappuccino is dusted with chocolate powder to add to the creamy sweetness of the hot drink.

Why not veganise your favourite coffee order by swapping regular milk for a plant-based alternative? At Stag Digbeth, we offer plant-based milks at no extra cost, which makes trying something new even easier.

So is a Flat White the Same as a Macchiato?

In short: no, but both coffee styles have a high espresso to milk ratio in relation to a latte or a cappuccino. While the flat white and the macchiato are both intended to display the full-bodied flavour of the espresso, a macchiato is made by simply adding a dash of textured milk onto the espresso shot. If you’re looking for an authentic taste of Italy, a macchiato is the coffee for you.

The flat white, however, is a far more recent addition to the coffee scene. Strong, short, and silky, the flat white is defined by its thin layer of steamed milk and strong taste of espresso, making it the perfect choice for your morning caffeine fix.

To find out more about Quarter Horse, the team who supply our beans and the roasting process behind it, see our page ‘Where Do We Source Our Special Blend of Coffee?’

Why not try a different coffee as your complimentary beverage when you book your next trim?

By Beth Hutton

Digbrew Co., based on River Street less than a stones throw from the Custard Factory have been making waves in the brewing world.

Constantly keeping Digbeth’s craft beer enthusiasts on their toes with an ever changing range of brewing based innovation, including a collaboration with Brad Carter, Ollie and the team have been steadily building a solid reputation.

Based on simple concepts such as good times, great beer and great people the brand has grown exponentially over the last 3 ½ years.

The addition of Dough, a pizzeria doing things a little differently and international beer distribution, this crew are trailblazers in the independent scene. We caught up with Ollie Webb founder of Digbrew Co. to find out more.

Selection of Digbrew beers with glow in the dark wax seals

Where did it all start? 

“At the end of every university year the first and second year art students would help the third years with their final project. It was always a great atmosphere and social scene but it was a shame that it only seemed to happen right at the end of the term. I wanted to keep it going all year round so we built a really trashy tiki bar out of bamboo in my studio and started inviting people and selling drinks from there.”

“It grew into this social scene and we were quickly in need of a more sustainable supply of beer, so we started brewing our own! The brewing side of things became more and more interesting and I ended up working in other breweries to find out as much as I could about the process.”

“I graduated and went to New York with no money just like every other art student. Whilst there I visited Other Half brewery to see how they operated. At the time I was undecided whether to be a sculptor or get into brewing and seeing how they operated sealed the deal for me. Seeing them do something that brought people together from all different backgrounds was a really exciting part of brewing and I wanted to offer something similar in the U.K. Digbeth seemed like the perfect place to make it happen so we went for it.”

Keeping a close eye on the brewing process

What’s been the highlight of the journey so far?

“We won a prize for most exciting brewery in the UK in January last year which was amazing considering we were only just really getting started. We’ve been to a lot of festivals off the back of that which was also an amazing experience.” 
“The addition of Dough was also a massive step forward for us as we were able to combine great beer with great pizza and really drove the brand forward.”

It’s great to see a local independent business adapt and flourish in the midst of a global pandemic. How has 2020 been so far for you and what’s changed? 

“It’s been tough but it has also pushed us to do things that we were testing out anyway, like bottling the beers, starting an online shop and expanding the capacity of the brewery to brew a range different beers at the same time.” 

“When we went into lockdown there were a lot of people who wanted to support us and try different things so there were a lot of people who wouldn’t usually buy beer online making orders and trying the different things we were putting out.”

What makes Digbrew Co different to other breweries?

“I’d say the main thing that makes us different is being multifaceted. We try to push the boundaries when making numerous different types of beer all at once instead of sticking to what’s comfortable and I think our customers enjoy that as they feel a part of the brand and the journey as they get to try different things all the time.”

“Having Dough as part of the brewery adds another string to our bow especially as they’re also doing things a little differently by recently adding Detroit ‘Grandma Style’ pizzas to the menu to give Digbeth something new. Nat describes them as being ‘like the best cheese on toast you’ll ever eat’, and she’s not wrong.”

“Our goal is to give people a unique experience both in the Digbeth taproom and when they buy beers from us online.”

What does the future hold for Digbrew Co.?

“We want to get the taproom back to the social place that it was before and also improve the overall customer experience when people come down.”

“We also want to push the brewing side of things by increasing capacity and increasing our customer base in the UK and internationally.”

Digbrew Co.’s taproom is now back open so you can sample their new range of beers for yourself and get your hands on Dough’s latest pizza offering. You can book a table via email, Instagram  but be quick, space is limited and you definitely don't want to miss out. You can also order the latest beers delivered straight to your door here.

You can also try out one of Digbrew's latest beers as your complimentary drink when you book your next haircut at Stag Digbeth, just ask one of our team about the latest offering.
Complimentary drink with every barbering service

By Ethan Webb

Frankie + Becky

Meet Frankie and Becky – the engineers of the humane street-food company, BA-HA. The business owners met seven years ago in a whiskey bar, and established their plant-based food company four years later. The creation of ‘BA-HA’ – meaning ‘life and feed’ in Gaelic – fused Frankie’s Irish roots with their aspiration to address the gap in the market for vibrant, vegan food.

Wings + Poms Combo

What’s the Story?

With a vision of bringing plant-based goodness to Birmingham, Frankie and Becky began by selling freshly baked pastries and cakes to the employees at their local pub and surrounding office block. These beginnings soon evolved further, as the pair started making waves within the food festival scene. As word of the ambitious duo spread, BA-HA began operating within seasonal markets and as a pop-up in 1000 Trades in the Jewellery Quarter.

Speaking to the street-food duo, their passion and unparalleled work ethic is unmistakable; Becky recalls how “on one occasion, the BA-HA team were at three venues in the same day, meaning that we did a 23-hour stretch”.

The pair’s commitment to supplying the city with hearty vegan dishes did not stop there. Upon being approached about a residency opportunity at The Mailbox, Frankie and Becky made it their personal mission to tackle the scepticism surrounding plant-based food. The BA-HA team veganised the Mailbox operation manager’s favourite dish, and before they knew it, they had secured a three-year residency at the iconic retail development. 

BA-HA and Stag Collaboration

Four years after the BA-HA team embarked on their vegan food odyssey, the journey has now led them to a collaboration with Stag Digbeth. As Frankie and Becky are both existing customers of Stag, the joining of forces seemed as though it was meant to be.

“After seeing Ben’s dog, Knoxley, in Stag’s old shop, I knew that I had to pop in to say hello” says Frankie recalling her first encounter with Stag, “I had my undercut done and enjoyed a beer whilst waiting, and the rest is history”.

By uniting BA-HA and Stag’s mutually forward-thinking approach to business, the collaboration brings together the quirky combo of a barbershop and bar with the soulful flavours of BA-HA. Whether you’re in need of a high-quality trim, a carefully crafted cocktail, or a street-food fix – Stag Digbeth ft. BA-HA has got you covered.

Stag Digbeth

It’s easy to see how BA-HA has been acclaimed as the highest-rated plant-based restaurant in Birmingham’s city centre with Becky and Frankie’s customer-focused approach and their cutting-edge attitude towards the food industry. We managed to sit down and gain an insight into the couples’ journey and goals after a busy first day serving plant based goodness to Digbeth’s locals.

Since founding BA-HA what have been the highlights?

“Seeing the customers’ positive reaction is a daily highlight for us” says Becky, “but meeting Kevin Smith from ‘Jay and Silent Bob’ when he was performing at The Hollywood Babble was also pretty cool”.

Kevin Smith isn’t the only famous face that Becky and Frankie have crossed paths with since owning BA-HA. Frankie tells us about her meetings with American singer and actress, Mya: “It’s a funny story, actually” reveals Frankie, “we watched Mya at Pride, and later on we bumped into Pritt Kalsi who invited us for drinks with them in the Radison. Mya asked about places to eat nearby, and I mentioned that there is a place in the Mailbox that might serve some vegan food”. Frankie laughs, “As we walked into BA-HA, Mya asked if I was a regular there because all of the staff said “hello” as I came in”.

Becky explains how great it was to see Mya’s positive reaction. “As we were tucking into the food, Mya asked if any of it was vegan, not knowing that all of it was!”

“She’s stayed in touch, been to BA-HA again since and we also catered for her whole entourage when she performed at the NIA. We got invited to see her perform as well which was awesome”.

What BA-HA dishes would you recommend?

There’s no room for debate when it comes to Irish-born owner, Frankie’s, menu recommendation: “The loaded poms. Always loaded, never plain. We didn’t go through the potato famine for nothing!”

Loaded Poms

What does the future hold for BA-HA?

As a born-and-bred brummy, Becky explains that at the moment BA-HA are focusing on solidifying their ties with fellow independents in Birmingham. “We love working with other business owners who share our passion and love of the city” says Becky, “each new collaboration brings a new dynamic to the BA-HA brand, and keeps things fresh and exciting”.

“In the more distant future, we aim to expand the BA-HA brand further. We’re in the process of discovering new ways to make our food more widely accessible without compromising on our prevailing high-quality.”

Where can we try your food?

“The pop-up is permanent at Stag Digbeth so don’t worry, we’ll be around for a while, but don’t forget Stag + BAHA are part of the Eat Out To Help Out Scheme which finishes at the end of August!”

“We are also doing a two-week pop-up at Little Black Wood in Moseley from Wednesday to Sunday from 23rdSeptember.”

BA-HA’s menu at Stag Digbeth

Make sure you follow us and BA-HA on Instagram @stagdigbeth and @bahaveganuk to keep up-to-date on the latest updates!

By Beth Hutton

Stag Digbeth’s coffee is supplied by Quarter Horse Coffee Roasters, located on Bristol Street, Birmingham, just over a mile from Stag Digbeth. Our house blend ‘Dark Horse’ combines a mixture of Brazilian and Colombian beans offering a unique flavour profile that is comparable to Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut bar.

The Origin of Coffee

Rumours of coffee’s origins stem from a 9th century Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi. His goats ate berries from certain trees and became so energetic that they didn’t want to sleep at night. Kaldi told the abbot of the local monastery about the trees and he decided to roast and boil the berries to make a beverage. The aroma from the coffee beans over the fire created a delightful smell and also meant that the monks could stay awake for hours of prayer. 

– The History of Coffee, National Coffee Association

Since then coffee has become the second most sought after commodity after crude oil.

The Coffee Farmers

Our house blend contains a Brazilian bean grown at the Fazenda Zaroca farm in Tres Pontas, Sul De Minas (Farm Owner Gilberto Basilio and a member of his team are pictured on the left). These are what give the blend its body of flavour.

The Colombian beans are picked by AMACA, a group of all female coffee producers which began in 1999 and has since grown to over 140 members. The members are all women farm owners and heads of household. (Some members of AMACA pictured on the right).

The beans from AMACA cost a little more in order to support their goals as a group. Their main aim is to improve the quality of life for them and their member’s families. Currently one of their most pressing needs is a warehouse to properly receive, cup, store and manage their coffees.

The beans are picked, de-pulped, washed and have their parchment removed.

The beans are then transported from their farms to the UK to be roasted.

The Roasting Process

When the beans reach Birmingham, Nathan Retzer from Quarter Horse picks the different blends and also selects the specific roasting method to suit the flavour profile of the beans.

The beans get tipped in to the roaster and they slowly begin to change colour. The machine spins a drum over a gas flame to create an even roast. The roast is monitored using visual checks through a small window and temperature probes.

Next, the beans get released from the roaster and drop into a cooling tray.

A large rudder circulates the beans to cool them down.

The beans will then be weighed, bagged and sealed, then sorted for delivery or collection.

We collect our beans weekly, sometimes right after the roasting process. This means the beans are sometimes still warm as we start making coffee first thing in the morning.

Stag Digbeth Coffee

If you haven’t already, why not come down and try a cup, or claim your complimentary drink with your haircut?

For what’s on at Stag Digbeth in the coming months, visit our Event Page.

Photography by Joe Matten.

Ever wondered how are windows stay so clean? It’s down to Mark Smith owner of Shiners Cleaning Services.
Occupation? Visual Technician or in layman terms, (Professional Window Cleaner!)

How did you get into it?
I started it part time with a friend cleaning bars and restaurants in Tenerife and then went from there, long story!

What’s been the highlight?
Being a free spirit and meeting genuine people!

How long have you been coming to Stag?
Been coming to Stag for 4 years

What’s your favourite part?
The ease of booking as there is no waiting, your time slot is yours! and the whole team are so welcoming from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave!!..Bravo Stag!!

You can find Mark’s work here: http://www.shinerscleaning.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shinerscleaning
Instagram: @shiners_cleaning _services
Photo and edit by @joemattenphotography

Shoutout to everyone who donated to our Movember efforts! We raised a total of £185 which will go towards helping change the face of men’s health. Big up @joemattenphotography for the video ?? @movember @asahisuperdry @custardfactory @indigbeth

Tom Kilby – Occupation? I am an artist under the name Dinosaur Kilby.

How did you get into it?
I studied Fine Art at University and continued doing my own work after graduation.

What’s been the highlight?
The highlight has to be being able to work with some amazing people.

How long have you been coming to Stag?
I’ve been visiting Stag for around 3 years.

What’s your favourite part?
Easy to book and the great friendly atmosphere.

You can find Tom’s work here: @dinosaurkilby and at www.thomas-kilby.co.uk

Photo and edit by @joemattenphotography
Trim by @ethanmichaelwebb