If you’ve been here from the start you’ll probably already know my story but I seem to have gained quite a few new friends recently so thought it about time I tell my story. I will warn you, it’s not that thrilling so don’t get too excited!
My earliest memories of baking are sitting at our big wooden dining table in our family kitchen when I was about five or six years old. Most Sundays Mum and I would bake a Victoria sponge cake from scratch or some of those packet kiddies cupcakes, you know the ones with the rice paper Disney princess toppers? Tasted like cardboard but as a kid they were the best things in the world!
Other memories I have are of baking with both my grannies. Granny Groome was a proper home style baker. Never followed a recipe and never ever weighed anything, but always produced the most incredible cakes. Her Rock Cakes were to die for! Granny May was a recipe book fiend. She had all the baking books and would bake the best Coffee and Walnut cake around! Granny May is also the origonal baker of the famous Mochamallow Pie.
As much as I loved these baking sessions, it was never my childhood dream to become a professional. I was convinced that I was going to be a primary school teacher and throughout my childhood, through to my late teens, I was certain this is what my life plan was. Until I started uni and realised I was not cut out to be a teacher! So I quit uni and then worked for a local charity as a support worker. During this time in my early twenties I would bake for family and friends, bake cakes to take into work, teach clients how to bake etc etc. It was only after baking cakes for my Brother’s 18th and being told I was actually pretty good, did I attempt to start a little business.
And so, in 2010 The Pretty Little Cake Company was born. Needless to say, my prices were too low, my logo was crap and I had zero knowledge of how to run a business so it didn’t work out so well! Less than a year after starting I decided to hang up my pinny and concentrate on doing a ‘proper job’.
Over the years that followed I continued to bake for friends and family but had put aside my dream of being a ‘proper baker’.
Every year people would tell me to apply for Bake-off and every year I would laugh it off thinking I was never good enough, if I couldn’t make a business out of it I was never going to be accepted for Bake-off. Until 2018 when my friend Dan forwarded me the application form and told me that if I didn’t apply myself he would do it for me!
So I applied. I got through to the final auditions but didn’t manage to get on the show unfortunately. Even though I was gutted, I was proud of how far I got and it made me realise that I could actually bake and was better than I thought I was. (The story of the Bake-Off process is probably best saved for another blog post!).
Fast forward a couple of years and I’ve changed jobs (for the second time) and am now managing a homeless day Centre for a charity in Worthing. I loved this job but it was mega stressful and hard work so there was never any time for baking!
One day I got a message on Facebook from someone saying that they needed a large celebration cake and I had been recommended by a mutual friend. I was reluctant to do it because I was so out of practice but I didn’t want to let them down.
I baked this huge cake, charged £60 and panicked when they came to collect and pay for it because they said ‘I’m not paying you that.’ I freaked thinking I was going to have an argument on my hands but they then said ‘It is worth so much more’ and proceeded to give me double. It was at that moment that I realised I could do it and that I would be wasting my life if I didn’t try again. So I started my insta and Facebook pages up again under The Pretty Little Cake Company and started taking the odd order here and there for a bit of extra beer money. Eventually the orders were coming in so thick and so fast that I decided to drop my hours at work and go part time.
Then in 2020 covid hit. I panicked. I’d dropped my employed hours so much that I was relying on the birthday cake orders to be able to pay my bills and mortgage but overnight every single order I had for the next four months was cancelled.
I needed to think of a way I could earn money and quickly.
Our Postal Bake service was born and it was the best decision I have ever made!
It blew up! From having absolutely no orders at all, I was then getting so many that I couldn’t keep up! So I quit my job at the charity and went full time baking.
I had done it! I was actually a ‘proper baker!’
So yeah, for many Covid ruined their businesses but for me it was incredible. I was so very lucky and I thank my lucky stars every day that I didn’t just give up on that day that every message was a cancelled order.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s been hard. There have been days where I’ve thought it was going to fail again. There have been weeks where I’ve not had a single order. But I’ve stuck at it and with the help from my family and friends we are back on a roll and things are looking positive once again.
I am eternally grateful to each and every person that has supported me on this journey but especially that gentleman that scared the shit out of me by saying her wasn’t going to pay me £60! Without him I would still be working in Worthing, stressed to my eyeballs and Sass Bakes would just be a pipe dream.
If you’ve read this far, thank you! And if you take anything from my rambling, remember not to let one little knock or failure end your dream. If you want it bad enough, learn from your mistakes and make version 2 so good it can only ever be a success.
Lots of love,