Every other month, Perfect Layout goes out into the community to talk to local businesses. The aim is share with our readers the personal experiences of these companies. What has worked for them and what they could do a little better…
Perfect Layout believe that sharing knowledge and experiences is a great way to help other businesses wherever they may be situated. Attracting customers to the local area is paramount if independent companies are to thrive.
As a result, and being fairly new on the block ourselves, we are keen to promote the awesome, creative and varied companies that exist right here on our Essex doorstep.
Read on for our very first inspirational interview…
Business name - It’s Mine Cakes
Owner – Amanda Easy
Location – 3 Grange Road, Harold Hill, Essex, RM3 7DU
What was life like before making cakes?
Life before cakes saw me working full time as a trainer in my other business called ‘Easy Management of Aggression’ otherwise known as EMA. This business delivers mandatory training and secure patient transport within the mental health sector.
Making cakes is quite far removed from your role within your other business. What inspired you to start making cakes?
My sister asked me to make her a birthday cake, for herself, as she couldn’t find what she wanted in the shops. When I made the cake, it came out so nice that my other sister wanted one and then other family members began asking me to make cakes for them too.
After making three or four cakes, I saw other cakes that were on sale in a new business and comparing my cakes with theirs, I decided that mine were a lot better! I thought to myself, if they can do it, I can do it. I made an Instagram page of the cakes that I’d already made and within a week I had someone email me with an order.
I then started making cakes from my kitchen and had so many cake orders that my husband had to go out and buy me a wallpaper paste table to put all the cakes on. I had them all lined up on this table and my kids began complaining that they were taking up too much space.
Making cakes from my kitchen went on for about 4 months. I couldn’t cope with the amount. For the cakes that I was unable to make, I had to get another cake firm to make them for me. After that, for consistency, I had to work from a bigger base. It was at that point that I realised that in order to grow the business I had to get premises for all the cakes and taking on staff. Plus, my house was getting destroyed!
I started looking at information on how you get premises, and what would be needed to get a shop.
It was then that I realised that the outlay would be too much and I had to get a business loan. I used the Government funded scheme for start-up businesses. I had to write a business plan with forecasts etc and talk to various people about the business. I spoke with them twice and got approval for plans within days. Two days later the money was in my account. Part of my plan submission included the details of the shop, which I think made my proposal look more attractive and got quicker approval.
The rest is history!
How did you come up with your business name?
I first of all thought about using my own name with cakes in the title. But I thought that if my name was in the title I would become the brand and I didn’t want that. Eventually, I want to really grow the company. The idea for my name came when watching how everyone reacts to having a cake. They would react by saying, “it’s mine”. I thought it was catchy so went with it. It makes me laugh as people still have that reaction when I deliver their cake.
Have you had any formal training?
No! I am completely self-taught.
How long have you had your shop in Grange Road?
Three years this November.
How many employees do you have?
I currently have one part-time member of staff. I have tried working with a young apprentice from a baking school but the person didn’t fit and it worked out that the role wasn’t right for her. I do believe in hiring staff in this way and will revisit doing this in the future.
What advice would you give to other cake makers and decorators that would like to make money from their creations?
Don’t under price because you think people won’t pay it. Take a deposit to cover your costs before you start working on your cake and have a good set of terms and conditions.
How’s business going since you first started out?
It’s going well! I’ve increased my product range to include, glow in the dark cakes, wedding cakes, cupcakes, push cakes, cake pops, biscuits, chocolate covered strawberries and oreos. I also make my own creations using the current trends like, ‘whole in the cake or look through the cake’ or ‘abandoned theatre’ style. My twist on this is to create a circus tent inside a cake.
Next year I’d also like to introduce taster open days for wedding cakes. This would be done on a group basis of 4 to 5 couples. On offer to taste would be sponges (vanilla, chocolate, red velvet and lemon flavours) butter creams (chocolate, vanilla, cream cheese and lemon flavours) and fruit fillings (raspberry, lemon and cherry flavours).
Where do you see It's Mine Cakes in 5 years time?
Becoming a preferred provider for wedding venues and with a team of 5 full time members of staff.
Do you have a digital marketing strategy?
I use Instagram and Facebook to promote my products, word of mouth and loyalty scheme. My loyalty scheme is that for every spend over £50 they get a stamp. Acquiring 3 stamps, will get the customer 6 free cup-cakes, for 6 stamps, they get 12 cup cakes and for 9 stamps they will get a 6-inch cake.
What types of businesses do you think would benefit from using Instagram?
Any business that can promote their business with a photograph.
I note that you are very active on social media. Have you thought about growing your business with the benefit of having a website?
Yes! I think that having a website will help me reach more people and give me a more professional image. It will also allow me to write more information about my products and offer people the chance to make payments online.
If you could start It's Mine Cakes all over again, what would you do differently?
I would try to work on the business rather than in the business. I would have concentrated more on establishing the processes and marketing rather than making the cakes.
Do you watch the Great British Bake-off on Channel Four?
No. It’s a show about baking and I run a business focussed on decorating cakes.
So for all things cake – check out Amanda’s varied delicious selections via:
Facebook - itsminecake
Instagram - itsminecakes
Email – 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!