Following the launch of the Ridiculously Rich by Alana brand, British Baker spoke with Apprentice 2016 winner Alana Spencer.
Spencer was crowned winner of the 12th series of The Apprentice in December last year, securing a £250,000 investment and a 50/50 partnership with business magnate Lord Sugar.
She told British Baker multimedia reporter Ashley Williams how incredible it was for the company to be finally up and running and the advice she would give to entrepreneurs looking to start their own bakery business.
You’ve completed your transition from Narna’s Cakes to Ridiculously Rich by Alana in January 2017 and you have now officially launched the business. Is this a dream come true for you?
“It was a big deal for me to launch the brand and I knew it would be a step in the right direction. It’s incredible; I never felt like I would get to this point and it has just been a world of craziness really.”
What has the reaction been like since winning The Apprentice? And what discussions have you had with Lord Sugar about the plans for the business?
“We’ve been talking every day in the run-up to the launch. He does like to be on top of everything, which is really good. However, he doesn’t get heavily involved in the details of the business; he would never want to invent a recipe or anything like that.”
How have you managed to get your head around going into a 50/50 partnership with one of Britain’s richest men?
“It was kind of hard to get used to at first, because you are used to just doing what you want in a business sense. Now there are two of us, I felt a bit more under pressure and it did seem daunting, but after getting to know him better, he is incredibly helpful and he’s great to work with.”
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs looking to start their own bakery business?
“You don’t really need a huge investment in a bakery business, really; if you just start selling at local food markets then you can grow from there. The brand almost comes second and just make sure you are strong-willed to succeed.”
Why do you think your products stand out from any others around?
“There’s a big trend at the moment towards healthy eating. However, while I’m obviously not asking people to indulge all the time, my products are purely indulgent stuff and I think there’s not much of that around anymore. For example, the peanut butter fudge cake is just the best thing ever - it’s very rich and very delicious.”
How important is the provenance of ingredients to your business?
“It’s massively important to me. When I started, my parents had chickens in their garden, so I would use their eggs and Welsh butter. We still use free-range eggs, but we have outgrown using my parents’ eggs now. We also only use Belgian chocolate in all of the cakes; when I went out sourcing for ingredients that was something that I was absolutely never going to sway on.”
From looking at your Twitter account, you said you have some exciting changes to come over the next few months. Could you tell me what those changes are?
“After leaving The Apprentice, I sat down with Lord Sugar to set up a business model, and this was something that was all new to me. I just thought, well, we will try to sell more cakes. But we actually decided on a business model, where we will have ambassadors. So they will be self-employed people working not just on the sales, but for the Ridiculously Rich brand. They will be selling at farmers’ markets, food festivals and they will also be able to sell in cafés and delis, which is incredibly exciting.”
I know you have just started out your business, but do you have any major refurb works in the pipeline for the brand?
“We have ordered new packaging and that should be arriving by next week, hopefully. The old packaging was just a quick adaptation of the Narna’s brand and we did this to get the cakes out as soon as possible - for people to try them and see what they thought. The packaging really needed updating and to become Ridiculously Rich rather than Narna’s. The website will also be fully ready at the end of April. That is going to have a clever feature where the ambassadors can log in and see what other ambassadors are up to - what they are doing, where they are going? Then they can order all their stock. There is also a wholesale page where cafés and delis can order directly.”
What’s your vision for the business? How big do you expect it to be in the future?
“I really want the business to improve the luxury cake market, and I think it absolutely can do that. There is a lack of really indulgent luxury cakes out there. That’s my goal for the brand in the next five years.”