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GirlBoss series - How to start a cake business and make it a success

 

 

Q - So Hannah, tell us more about your business?
We create gourmet, luxury desserts and cakes that are exclusively tailored to every customer we have. We supply individual desserts to restaurants, hotels and cafes, and also make corporate branded items such as cookies or cupcakes to help promote businesses. Additionally we craft celebration and wedding cakes that are both delicious and gorgeous, to help our clients celebrate special occasions.
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Q - Where did the passion for baking come from?
Food and baking have always been quite central to family life. As soon as I could hold a spoon, I was helping my mum and gran bake their incredible cakes and carrying on their tradition of gorgeous food. My love of baking developed hugely throughout my childhood and teenage years, and I was keen to explore new techniques, flavours and skills until it became the biggest focus in my life.
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Q - Why did you choose this particular business?
For the simple reason that it made me so much more passionate than anything else I was doing in my life! I’ve always been very drawn to baking, and I believe you should pursue what makes you most excited. After working in professional kitchens, I felt confident I had the skills to execute my own ideas. I’m fortunate that my mum was able to set up with me too; we make a great team.
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Q - How did you learn everything baking? Did you have to take any courses?
I learnt on the job, so every role I’ve taken on had a huge learning curve! The first place I worked was a French patisserie, and that laid the foundation of every different technique I would need to use in the future. However, I have taken courses (such as one on artisan bread) to refresh myself and keep my knowledge up to date.
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Q - What was the most challenging part about setting up this business?
As a business owner you need to be a lot of different things such as a marketer, social media expert, accountant, photographer, strategist etc. It’s hard to get to grips with a lot of things whilst trying to do the best you can with your products/services. I’ve got used to it but it was a bit overwhelming at first to keep so many balls in the air!
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Q - Your mum is your business partner. How do you get along and is there ever a time that you feel like you're treated as her child rather than her business partner?
We get along really well; we’re very different personalities and energies but when we’re figuring out things for work we are usually on the same page. I’ve never felt like her child in terms of work; I know more about baking but she knows more about financial issues and she’s a better saleswoman than I am! We complement each other well and have a huge amount of respect for one another.
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Q - How much funding did you need to start this business?
As we run our business from home, the start-up costs weren’t too bad; we were lucky enough to have the money ourselves to invest in what we needed.
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Q - What was your lowest point in business and also the highest? Do you also believe you need both success and failures in order to become better at what you do?
My lowest point was a couple of months in; I wanted things to happen immediately and I was very frustrated we weren’t moving forward. I wondered if we were actually able to make this a success. However not too long after that we secured one of the biggest supply contracts we have, so it paid to be a bit more patient than I had been. My highest point was Christmas 2016; we were so busy that we had to close the order books. It was awesome to be in such demand!! It felt incredible to know we’re on the right track.
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Q - How do you deal with a stressful time?
For me, it really helps to mentally set an end date, such as ‘I’ll be finished in six weeks’. It makes it easier to break things down into more manageable chunks so I can take things day by day and try to not get stressed about things happening in the future. I force myself to fit social time into my schedule and see it as important as work, as it allows me to refresh myself mentally for the next day. Nothing is as relaxing as having a giggle with some friends. I also like to plan something lovely (like a mini break, spa etc) to reward myself after so much stress!
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Q - How do stay fit and do you also believe in staying fit and strong for a more successful business?
I LOVE working out!! Getting up a good sweat is awesome and one of my favourite things. I do interval training, spinning and circuits, plus a lot of bodyweight exercises. Anything where I sweat lots. I think staying fit is very important for my business- it helps clear my head so I can focus on what I need to. I’ve had very creative moments on the treadmill! It de-stresses me when things are overwhelming, and helps me focus on what’s important. Working out helps my mindset be a lot more dialled in and really gets me motivated for everything in my life, not just being healthy.
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Q - How easy was it to set up your business?
It was easy in some respects, as we just needed a few bits of equipment to start operating. The hard part was getting our name out there and getting noticed by the right people. It was hard to keep motivated at that stage as it felt like we were shouting into the void at first!
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Q - If you could give yourself advice back in the early days of business, what would it be and why?
I would tell myself to be bolder. I used to think it was pushy to mention my business in the context of trying to sell things, but people aren’t going to know about your business if you don’t talk about it!
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Q - Let's say I want to start my own business, but I have no idea what I want to do. Where do you think I should look for an idea?
Firstly, try to look for things in life you’re truly passionate about, that has strong meaning for you and makes you happy. Then think about existing companies that cater to those interests. Is there something you think you could offer better? Or put a new twist on? Most businesses aren’t a completely unique concept; don’t scare yourself by trying to be the next Steve Jobs. Start small and try to develop from there.
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Q - What advice would you give to someone who's looking to start a business but are slightly hesitant?
Starting your own business is one of the scariest things you can do. There’s only so much preparation you can do and so many books you can read. Get in touch with your local business support network, and use them as a sounding board for your ideas to get a fresh perspective. That will help you make any adjustments to your ideas. However, I think there has to be a point where you have to trust yourself and just jump in with both feet. You can make up a thousand reasons why you aren’t ready to start *just yet*. Be tenacious and be brave!
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Q - If you could do any other business, what would it be and why?
I would probably be either doing personal training, or something connected to history. I had an idea to create workshops on the history of food- as I’ve done a course on it- and run them for schools. I’d find that really interesting and it’d give me a creative outlet as well.  
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Q - How's the future looking for you and your business? Is the fire still burning?
Definitely, if anything I feel even more focused and excited this year!! We’re considering moving into our own premises; we don't have any solid ideas laid out yet as it'll all depend on what the property is like and where it is. Whatever happens, I can’t wait to see what this year brings. I’m so ready to hustle!
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Q - How do you stay challenged and focused? Do you have days where you feel like you just can't be bothered and how do you deal with those days?
Being challenged is quite an easy one; with many cakes, I’ve some decoration that I’ve never done before, so I have to figure out how to create it. It’s a very fun if difficult process. Staying motivated and focused has been difficult; I’ve had days when I don’t want to check my emails or answer the phone. If I take a step back and look at how far I’ve come already, it really helps to spur me on. Sometimes you just need to ignore the complaints in your head and keep on pushing. If I don’t champion my business and do what I can for it, it won’t ever progress and move forward!
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Q - Do you ever unwind and take time off?
I do wherever I can. I count working out as part of my unwinding process. I love to take mini breaks, either alone or with friends. I’m going to Lithuania in February which will be completely different to anything I’ve experienced before! My mum and I took a spa break a couple of weeks ago as well, which was amazing and so restorative. Seeing friends is very important for my mental health as they help me relax and get out of my own head. I can’t take a lot of time off but I make sure to relish the time I do get.
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Q - And please tell us what are the most exciting things about your job?
One of my favourite things is when a client comes to me with a design they’d like, and I get to create it out of nothing. It’s so amazing to think I can make so many different creations with my hands and the same raw ingredients. Being able to be so creative and use my imagination so often makes me excited to start each day. It makes me so proud and happy when a client tells me it looks better than what they’d been picturing. It still blows my mind that this is my actual job!!
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ina plesca
ina plesca

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1 Response

Hannah
Hannah

February 22, 2017

It looks gorgeous,thankyou for featuring us! I love that you’ve used the picture of me in the snow in MyMantra leggings <3

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