It seems to be everyone’s dream to set up a small ’bake from home’ cake firm nowadays. That was my plan just one year ago, when I left a career in education and traded in my lesson plans for recipe cards. Little did I know, when I rolled up my sleeves on my 1950s frock, put on my pinny and pearls and got down to the lovely business of baking decadent cakes, that my life would be turned upside-down.
Twelve months ago, I opened a stall in London’s Greenwich Market and waited for something to happen. Flash forward and the Ms Cupcake brand is now a team of six staff. This week we flung open the doors to London’s first entirely vegan bakery shop in Brixton, South London.
So how did we make the transition from home baker to professionals? Firstly, I redeveloped my kitchen and had the local council approve it. The business needed to be registered and I took courses with HMRC to make sure the books stayed on the straight and narrow. A fabulous website designer came along and I went about attacking social media Facebook, Twitter head-on. Weeks were spent in the British Library, researching the market, and countless hours on perfecting recipes.
Most large cities in the US and Canada have at least one vegan retail bakery. So it would seem that London had been crying out for one. I predicted my cakes would be popular with ethical vegans. But I hadn’t realised how many people out there cannot eat animal products due to allergies, food intolerances and for religious reasons.
Countless children have walked up to the market stall with their family and been told they can have any cake from us that these special cakes won’t make them ill. The look of unmitigated joy and surprise on that child’s face is the reason why we continue to make cake and spread love.
With my home kitchen not able to cope with the volume of cakes we were now producing every week, I needed to figure out our next step and a retail shop seemed the answer. Has it been easy?... not exactly. We have had problems getting water plumbed in, our new ovens arrived completely smashed... need I go on? But what has got us through is the warm welcome from the local community and the constant support from our fans. Who knows what new challenges will be thrown our way but we’ll tackle them with a smile and a fistful of decadent cupcakes.