Every alternate month, Perfect Layout Digital Marketing goes out to local businesses to talk about how business is. The aim is to learn and share with you the personal experiences of these business owners. What is working for them and what they have learned do differently.
Perfect Layout believes that sharing knowledge is a great way to help other business owners develop. We are passionate about promoting the awesome, creative and varied companies that exist right here on our Essex doorstep.
Read our interview with registered baker Priya Shah.
Business name - Buttercup Cakes by Priya
Owner – Priya Shah
Location – Gants Hill, Essex
Tell us a bit about you?
I am an accountant by trade and a mum of a two-and-a-half-year-old boy. I have a passion for baking and sugar work and this has been with me since I was five years old. I used to watch my mum go to classes and at home I would then offer to help her out whenever she would let me. She made cakes as a hobby and often made cakes for friends and family helping her with both baking and sugar work.
How long have you been making cakes?
I have been doing it for the last 5 to 6 years as a hobby; making birthday and wedding cakes for family and friends. After a night out with friends and talking about how I would love to do this as a job, I decided why not give it a go. It was in October 2017 that I became a registered baker. In the past year I have been trying to establish the business as a commercial venture, whilst still doing a full-time job.
How is business going?
Really well. It’s picked up much quicker than I expected it to. It started as a side project and now I am fully booked for the next two months. I now need to work out how I am going to scale the business up.
I know you make celebration cakes, cupcakes and other sweet treats. Do you have a preference?
I make novelty celebration cakes and wedding cakes. I prefer making wedding cakes because of the more intricate sugar work, personalised toppers and figurines. At the moment, I am exploring a wide range of cake styles to discover what I enjoy most.
Have you had any formal training?
Yes. I have been on various courses along the way to practise, learn and enhance my skills. Courses that I have done include flawless cake covering, creating sugar flowers and how to make lifelike figurines for cakes (focussing on moulding and colouring). It’s amazing how quickly you can hone a skill with the right tutoring.
How did you come up with your business name?
Being in a competitive market, it was hard to come up with the right name – I’m still not sure I am there… so many bakers have taken the names that I wanted. I came up with lots of ideas that I tested with friends and family. I wanted something elegant and simple. I also liked the flower theme, because I like the sugar work with flowers. Buttercup is a pretty-sounding flower. It may still change as my company grows...who knows.
Where are your premises?
At the moment, I am doing all of it from home. Hopefully the business will grow soon to the point where I can have my own unit and be able to showcase my work. I would love a bigger kitchen and worktops from which to work from. A domestic kitchen is not quite enough. It would also be nice to separate work from home life.
Tell us about your most challenging cake…what lessons did you learn?
I recently did a scale model of a Routemaster bus, which collapsed twice. These style buses are quite narrow compared to their length. I wanted the bus to stand on its tyres, so it needed a stand that wasn’t visible. It took a while to get it just right. I had to use Dowling rods to secure it. I guess this all comes with practice. One tip I have learned from making cakes is that chocolate ganache is useful to use between sponge and icing. When this cake toppled the cake was one solid piece that simply fell onto the board – a buttercream layer may have been a different story!
What advice would you give to other cake makers and decorators that would like to make money from their creations?
The first cake I ever did for a paying customer didn’t turn up to pick up the cake until 6 hours after she was supposed to.
For those 6 hours I was nervous that I had made a cake for no reason and that the time I had spent and the ingredients that I bought would have been wasted. I quickly learned the lesson to always take a deposit.
I would recommend to learn new skills regularly. Cake trends can change quickly too, so keep your skills up. Stick to what you like doing. Try not be everything to everyone, or you will end up doing work that you don’t enjoy doing as much.
Where do you see Buttercup Cakes by Priya in 5 years’ time?
As a full-time venture. I would love to leave the day job and do this full time.
Do you have a marketing strategy?
No, I guess that is due to the fact that I didn’t expect it to pick up so quickly.
Currently I am posting my cakes onto Facebook and Instagram and a lot of my customers are coming from there, or from referrals. However, as I want to focus more on wedding cakes, I am planning to attend fayres and showcase myself to potential clients in the near future.
How are you using social media?
As mentioned before, I am on Facebook and Instagram and whenever I complete a project I showcase it on there. I am also on local Facebook groups for people looking for this service. It is through these posts, word-of-mouth and repeat business that I get my clients.
Your business is doing well on social media, but have you thought about growing your business with a website?
Only to the extent that ‘yes’ I need to do one at some point. I have spent time looking at other people’s websites and I am working out which style of website I would like to have. It’s my next step.
What programmes do you watch for inspiration?
I love Extreme Cake Makers for inspiration and Bake Off because it is so entertaining.
It’s lovely to see a company form from the very beginning. We would love to catch up with you in a year from now to see how you are doing? Can we?
Yes of course.
If you would like to see more of Priya’s cakes, you can find her on:
Facebook - www.facebook.com/buttercupcakesbypriyas
Instagram - www.instagram.com/buttercupcakesbypriya
You can also contact her to place an order by emailing her at – firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a business that you would like to feature in this regular slot, why not get in touch? We’d love to hear from you!