Mimi’s Bakehouse admits it has enjoyed an uplift in sales after being crowned Scottish Baker of the Year 2023/24.

Along with plans on “celebrating for the whole year”, the Edinburgh-based family business is investing in digital marketing to help drive further growth of online sales. It is also extending its core product range and announcing new collaborations with local businesses.

“We’re going to make the most of the win”

Mimi’s founder Michelle Phillips tells British Baker she was “beyond overwhelmed” by the achievement after nine years of entering the awards.

“Winning Scottish Baker of the Year will raise our family business profile in Edinburgh and beyond, and give us a unique opportunity to build relationships with other bakeries,” says Phillips. “We’re grateful to all our incredible staff, customers, partners, who work hard every day as part of our extended family.”

Mimi's Bakehouse staff hold scones and takeaway coffee cups outside a bakery hatch at one of their Edinburgh cafes  1034x1008

Source: Mimi’s Bakehouse

Staff members hold scones and takeaway coffee cups outside a bakery hatch at one of their Edinburgh cafes

A big party for all staff past and present was organised to celebrate. “We’re going to make the most of the win, but we’ve certainly seen an uplift in sales,” adds Phillips.

Mimi’s Bakehouse stood out from the 70 other bakeries in the competition this year because it is “well known as a feel good place to visit, while remaining small enough to go the extra mile and try new things”, notes the founder.

“We bake everything by hand, from scratch, and pride ourselves in our seasonal Scottish produce wherever we can. And our brand continues to grow. We’re bringing nostalgic baking to new audiences through social media, keeping up with bakery trends and starting to take fully customised adult cake orders now.”

Baking in the blood

Phillips says she’s been baking since she was a teenager, inspired by her grandmother and aunt who were both “great bakers”. She even uncovered bakers in her ancestry dating back to the 17th Century when researching her family tree. “There’s been baking in the blood for a long time,” she laughs.

“A case of everybody mucking in”

After leaving school to do a professional cookery course at a college, Phillips had to put her dreams of a baking career on hold while she raised her family. She subsequently took up kitchen jobs for the NHS, at schools, a hotel and at Edinburgh café Loopy Lorna’s Tea House. An illness of the café owner saw Phillips suddenly elevated to managing the business on her own. “I decided to run with that and ended up absolutely loving it,” she recalls.

Her handcrafted bakery items proved a huge success with “queues up the street”, and she won Casual Dining Chef of the Year for Scotland while working there. After a few years at the café, Phillips and her husband were finally ready to risk it all to open their own bakery.

“We sold our house, we cashed in pensions, he had a taxi business at the time and he sold his taxi. We threw everything into the business and went for it. Thankfully, it has worked out,” says Phillips.

Mimi's Bakehouse Family image

Source: Mimi’s Bakehouse

Mimi’s Bakehouse’s celebrates winning Scottish Baker of the Year 2023/24 at the Glasgow Hilton on 6 May: (front L-R) founder Michelle Phillips, daughters Natalie and Gemma, and Gemma’s husband Scott (back L-R) Michelle’s husband Mike, and daughter Ashley

Her children were also keen to join the new bakery café established in 2010 in Leith, a port district in the north of Edinburgh city. Each brought complementary skills to the firm, including Michelle’s daughter Gemma training to be a baker and Natalie working at a bank, while Gemma’s husband Scott had completed a business degree. However, Phillips notes it was “a case of everybody mucking in” at the start, including being on the floor serving people and manning the coffee machine.

With the company expanding over the years to currently employ a total of 115 staff across its estate, which includes a production unit in Grantham, the second generation have now assumed executive roles fitting to their specific know-how. Gemma Clearie is head baker, Scott Clearie is operations manager, Natalie Togher is finance manager, and Michelle’s middle daughter Ashley Harley is HR and events manager.

Digital developments

Mimi’s has also invested in its brand manager, Rebecca Brown, by enrolling her on a professional photography course with a food stylist in London. The hope is for Brown and the marketing team to continue their upwards trend of online sales.

While overall turnover slightly increased to £2.9m in 2022/23, the website generated sales of £350,000 and has already welcomed revenue of £151,000 during the first two months of this financial year.

The company has created a new revenue scheme by launching its own shops on social media platforms TikTok and Instagram, supported by “visual storytelling” and “trending bakes”. Philips highlights one particular TikTok video showing Cadbury mini eggs getting poured into large plastic boxes that accrued 1.6m views.

@mimisbakehouseedinburgh We’re in mini egg heaven ☁️🥚 #fyp #fypシ #bakery #bakingtiktok #easter #miniegg ♬ som original - Modelscut

Mimi's Bakehouse Afternoon Tea

Source: Mimi’s Bakehouse

Afternoon Tea

A strong sense of community pervades at Mimi’s Bakehouse, with local suppliers used for tea, coffee and other artisanal ingredients, and collaborations with businesses in and around Edinburgh. For example, Mimi’s uses Ramsay of Carluke bacon in its indulgent French toast, which are made fresh in store, and uses stout Campervan Brewery in some of its brownies. Conversely, the bakery has helped create a Coconut Nutella Brownie Stout with Vault City brewery. It has also partnered with coffee roasters Machina on bespoke blended beverages, with Bawbags boxer shorts company on a Father’s Day gift set, and with Lind & Lime gin to include its afternoon tea as part of a gin tour.

Phillips says the experience of enjoying an afternoon tea at its shops remains hugely popular. Its award-winning scones made with Scottish mature cheddar are bestsellers too, along with the traybakes and cupcakes for takeaway.

In the pipeline

Mimi’s is expanding its core range with the launch of new products for UK-wide dispatch. These include cookie sandwiches, whole brownie slabs, brownie and blondie dipping boxes, and the return of the Rainbow Celebration Cake, which halted production during the pandemic.

Mimi's Bakehouse Brownie Dipping Box

Source: Mimi’s Bakehouse

The Brownie Dipping Box includes individual dipping pots

Outside of its own shops, Mimi’s has partnered with fellow Edinburgh family business Margiotta on a cake fixture inside its convenience store and has a branded concession at Archerfield Walled Garden, a contemporary garden café and shop in East Lothian. “We’re also looking at working towards Edinburgh’s first cupcake vending machine,” reveals Phillips.

“We’re going to adapt to an ever-changing landscape of hospitality, pushing forward with new ideas and concepts,” comments Phillips. “We hope it will make our family business an Edinburgh institution for generations to come. We want people to think of us as being a part of Edinburgh that everyone wants to come and visit.”