Laura picked up a hand whisk 8 years ago and luckily for the city of Liverpool, hasn’t stopped making cakes since that day.
Now stocked in the best cafes in the city, as well as making bespoke cakes to order at Laura’s Little Bakery, Laura has created a sugary empire. Her continous support of the independent scene in Liverpool is the cherry on the top.
How did you become a cake connoisseur?
It all started 8 years ago. My eldest daughter was turning 9 and she really wanted me to bake her cupcakes for her birthday rather then going out and getting the standard caterpillar cake (which by the way I do love haha). Begrudgingly, due to the fact I wasn’t a fan of cupcakes at this time, I went to Tesco, purchased a £5 hand whisk and the rest as they say is history. My favourite sweet treat back then was a New York cheesecake and after a trip to NY the year before I was keen to recreate that dessert and just found I had a very natural talent for all things baked.
What has the journey been like?
My journey has been a roller coaster ride I have to be honest, in the most part it has been an incredible ride with so many amazing experiences and friends made, but it has been a steep learning curve also and many tough lessons learnt. I could definitely write a book on what not to do in business, but I think I have a lot of positive advice also. I’m proud that after 8 years, I took a chance and started a business that is still going, that’s something to be very proud of.
Has it always been your aim?
Not at all, before I picked up the whisk for the first time I was a stay at home mum with a simmering passion for cooking and a slight constant panic about what I was going to do with the rest of my life once my youngest started school. 🙂
What drew you to the hospitality industry?
Looking back I think I was always destined for this industry one way or another, my first job was a server in a restaurant and I’ve always had a passion for food and drink. It’s a fast-paced, hard working industry to be in but it’s also amazing to be surrounded by so many focused, inspirational people. The independent scene in Liverpool has flourished over the past 8 years and it’s been great to be involved in that.
What does food mean to you?
Most of my favourite memories include food, most of the great times I have with friends and family revolve around eating and drinking. It took me a good few years to really appreciate how special my cakes were to people and how they really influence special occasions.
What do you think is the key to running a successful cake business?
You cannot be afraid of graft, it’s extremely hard work and you will have to sacrifice a lot. Be prepared for the guilt.
Make sure you do a basic course in accounting, it’s all well and good being able to bake but if you can’t actually run a business, you will suffer. There are plenty of courses online and some really great apps which will make your life a lot easier and do the necessary evil part of business.
Don’t be afraid to say no. I worked solidly for 6 years, mostly 17 hours days, one day off a week, sometimes not even that, the reason being is that I felt like I could never refuse an order. In the end it ground me down so much I nearly lost it all. I was mentally and physically exhausted and actually in a really bad state looking back. I cant stress enough, make time for yourself, prioritise time with family and friends because none of it is more important then that.
Be social media savvy, it’s really tough to make your mark these days due to the sheer volume of businesses using this tool now but if you stay ahead of the game you will stand out from the others. Little things like backdrops for my cakes has made a big difference in the overall quality of my pictures.
Know your worth, don’t let people bully down your prices and definitely don’t do freebies because they’re promising exposure.
Always be improving, I’m far from the most talented baker in this city but I strive to be one of them and to do that I’m constantly looking at ways to become better.
Describe an average ‘day in your life’
I have children so madness usually ensues first thing. Once the school run is complete I’ll usually do a stock run then get back to commence baking. In between bakes I’ll try to tackle admin and organise orders for the next few days. By the time I’ve got that done it’s time for school run again. Usually I’ll try to tie in any deliveries I have, much to my youngest daughter’s dismay, then back home to carry on. I’ll stop for tea and time with the family but then more times than not I will have to finish bits and bobs off for the next day.
Many a night I’ll go straight from the kitchen to bed and then start on admin to make sure I’m not behind with email orders, hopefully once all is done, I’ll not be too tired to fit in an episode of any tv series I’m binge watching at the time before sleep 🙂
What are your food predictions for next year?
Hemp has been big this year so I’m expecting a few hemp cake orders sometime soon. I’ve also had a lot of requests for low sugar/low fat cakes. I think the argument for using less sugar is a solid one clearly, and despite the fact I’m a firm believer in balance and that a little treat now and again won’t hurt you, it’s good to have those options for the customer.
What do you think we going to be see more of on menus?
More vegan and gluten-free options.
More raw/naked ingredients and less sugar.
What is your all-time favourite dish?
Food: meatballs and spaghetti …could happily live off it forever.
Dessert: sticky toffee pudding and cheshire ice cream whatever flavour.
What ingredient could you not live without?
In life… probably butter.
Cakes and food just taste better with it.
What has been your career highlight so far?
There’s been loads to be honest, they usually include the friends I’ve made during these past 8 years, not least my partner who I never would have met had it not been for my business. I’ve also been lucky to make cakes for people I’ve admired over the years.
Making a stance against people asking for freebies which went viral last year was also a great thing to be involved with and also hopefully inspired other independent business to follow suit.
Check out the beautiful creations by Laura’s Little Bakery