Morning everyone, i have been a little busy lately (you know how it goes) so i am a little behind with my blogging but time to introduce you to another Fabulous business so with no further ado……..
- So firstly, please introduce yourself and your business, and where in the UK/World are you based?
Hi! I’m Lou, I run Bake To The Future and I’m based in Ashford, Kent in the South East of England.
2.Are you a self-taught cake decorator/baker or are you trained?
I am self-taught but have done a few skill specific courses on things like sugar roses, model making and sculpting. I am also a qualified chef although it was a generic food qualification rather than a specialist baking one.
3.Who inspired you to bake/ decorate and how long have you been baking for?
I remember my Mum baking a lot when I was growing up, some of my best memories are of running in and out of the house during the Summer and hearing music playing loudly while my Mum was making cakes or bread. As I got older I developed a love of watching shows like Baking Mad, MasterChef and Cake Boss, I was also obsessed with Eric Lanlard so when I was off work with an injury for a long time I started baking. When my son was nearing his 1st birthday in 2012 I wanted to do the stereotypical Mum thing and make his birthday cake only I was terrified of messing it up, so I made cupcakes and cake pops instead and had someone else make his cake. By June that year I had read enough magazines and felt confident enough to try it for myself, so I made my husband a Father’s Day cake. I was so pleased with myself at the time, it took me the whole day and it was wonky and far too big, but I really enjoyed it and caught the cake making bug! I spent 4 years making cakes for friends and family, it was an expensive hobby! It wasn’t until 2016 that I plucked up the courage to turn my passion in to a business. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet Eric Lanlard twice over the last 6 years and he is still a huge inspiration to me. There are cake decorators who I admire and look up to also, Ben Cullen (The BakeKing) is one, I love his style!
4. How long have you been running your cake business?
I opened in March 2016 so very nearly two years now!
5. What was the last cake you made?
I did a 16 birthday cake two days ago and I’m currently making one for a guy who competes as part of an amateur race team. The last big cake I made was a Mermaid inspired buttercream design for a little girl who had Princess Ariel at her party.
6. How do you attract customers to your business?
For celebration cakes I am entirely social media based. I advertise on Facebook and Instagram, I am also a member of a county-based wedding suppliers network, so I regularly receive recommendations via the other members and I attend wedding fairs. There are two local cake makers Facebook groups too, so we pass referrals to one another if we are booked up. A lot of it is word of mouth though, previous customers recommending me on Facebook posts or sharing my page. I run competitions a few times a year for free cupcakes or a discount on wedding orders which has always been successful for me. I also have a space at a local comic con every year which is great for me because of my style, I try to be different, my business name 100% helps with that, people never forget it!
7. What do you find the hardest aspect of running your cake business?
The admin! You need to be so organised! Between taking orders, keeping track of stock levels, prepping for consultations and wedding fairs, advertising and compiling quotes…all of that time and work before I have even thought about turning my oven on! I also still battle with my self confidence, there are times when I tell myself the client is going to hate it and scream at me when they collect their cake! I panic during and after every wedding cake delivery too! Oh, and taking photos and editing them!
8. What do you love or find the easiest aspect of running your cake business
Wedding fairs and consultations! I love meeting my clients and getting to know them. I come away from consultations feeling confident and proud of myself. I’m good at being me and I use it as a selling point because it is the most unique asset that my business has! I also love the baking, that’s where it all started for me and there’s nothing better than hiding myself away in the kitchen with the stereo blasting!
9. What is your speciality/niche? (Wedding cakes, novelty cakes, cupcakes etc….)
I specialise in geeky and alternative designs. I’m a total nerd and have a good knowledge base about most fandoms which puts me in a great position to design and create cakes in that genre. I think clients will always feel happier and more at ease if they know they’re entrusting a design to someone who loves the characters and subject matter as much as they do. I pride myself on creating cakes with personality which perfectly represent my client’s hobbies, passions, loves and obsessions. The majority of professional cake companies can create a stunning masterpiece featuring sugar flowers and lace detailing and they will enjoy putting the whole design together in all its prettiness. Most cake designers however, would have no interest in creating a Game Of Thrones or Batman inspired wedding cake full of dark colours and gritty textures. And that is why I exist!
10. Who is your favourite cake artist, cake business, cake crush or you tube channel
That’s an easy one as I have already mentioned his name! Ben Cullen aka The BakeKing. He is the very definition of an artist in every way. He has a very strong social media presence as well as a you tube channel and he’s currently featuring in the second series of Extreme Cake Makers. I started following Ben about a year ago after a cake friend shared one of his posts, he is literally my cake GOD! Not only is he a super talented artist but he’s a very clever business man too, the way he markets himself and styles his business is just incredible. I was lucky enough to meet him at Cake International last November and he’s also a very grounded, down to earth and funny guy. My admiration for him is so well known that my husband had Ben make my birthday cake last year! That definitely set the bar for future birthday presents ha-ha!
11. What one piece of cake decorating/baking equipment could you simply not do without?
I can’t choose just one! My first year in business I dedicated to investing in the business and buying equipment to make life easier and orders faster. I have two (four for some sizes) of every cake tin to make baking faster, I have a domestic oven as well as two counter top convection ovens, two Kitchen Aid mixers, a dedicated cake fridge and I have no clue how I went so many years without an Agbay and Profroster! They are total game changers!
12. What was the last bit of cake equipment you purchased?
A new air brush gun with a larger paint holder.
13. What is the one piece of cake equipment you absolutely regret purchasing
Loose bottom tins! They’re pointless! I also have a lot of cutters and moulds I’ll never, ever use.
14. What is your favourite brand of sugarpaste
Massa! Nothing else comes even close!
15. Is there a new skill you would love to learn?
Sculpting and painting on cakes.
16. What are the goals and ambitions for your business over the next 12 months and beyond?
17. I want the business to be my full-time income instead of it being a full time job with a part time income, I want multiple orders every week and I’m aiming to increase my year on year wedding bookings too.
18. What advice would you give a new cake business just starting out?
Be you! The best thing about your business is you, no other business has what you have so use it to your advantage. Find your own style and what you enjoy doing and market it to the relevant people. You may make a lot of mistakes at first but learn from them and push on. And always enjoy what you do, even when you’re pulling another all nighter or telling yourself you’re stupid for taking too much on or you start thinking about giving up because you don’t have any orders, ask yourself if you are still having fun and if you are then never give up.
19. And lastly what do you prefer a slice of cake or a cupcake?
Slice of cake! With a coffee, yummy
Great Scott (my back to the future reference sorry couldn’t help) another Fab read with great advice.
You can find Lou on Instagram and Facebook.
And it you wish to take part in meet the baker please email firstname.lastname@example.org