How have things been for you during this unprecedented time?
It has been very strange. To begin with, lots of events were being cancelled so clients no longer wanted their cake orders. I spent a lot of time discussing refunds and credits for clients - it was very sudden, quite frightening, and shocking.
What has been the secret of your success in getting through it?
Slowly and gradually people started to order smaller cakes and wanted them to be delivered to friends or family in isolation. So I quickly updated my website price list to ensure that it reflected my current offer and started promoting my smaller cakes such as loaf cakes, cupcakes and layer cakes.
Despite the challenges, have you found yourself in any humorous situations?
One evening I had a phone call from Channel 4. They were doing a baking slot on The Steph Show the next day and asked me if I wanted to appear on the show, to present Paul Hollywood with one of my favourite bakes. I suggested my Espresso Martini Roulade, which is a popular choice. I set about baking that evening and had a live Skype interview with Paul on the show. He was very positive about my roulade, and I couldn’t resist asking him for a virtual "Hollywood handshake." The clip is on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/velvetfig.
What advice do you have for other local businesses?
Look at the things you do well and find a way to meet the changing demands of your customers and try to maximise on that. I looked at my core business and found a way to match my offer to the new way of living that people are existing in.
Any new initiatives that you are planning for this summer?
At the moment, I am working on satisfying my current orders and continuing to promote my occasion cakes. As people aren’t going away, out for dinner or having parties, they seem to be treating themselves and ordering cake instead. My freelance work is also particularly busy, as companies/clients are now preparing for the end of the year and looking into next year. So I am working on a photoshoot in a couple of weeks for some images for new cake decorating tool kits. I will be also making my Christmas cakes soon - so things are pretty busy.
Why is it important that people ‘Stay Loyal to Local’ going forward?
The High Street was struggling before this happened and now it will be very difficult for some of these businesses. As local producers pull together to support each other, hopefully it will ensure that businesses can look at their offer and continue to operate, allow people to understand where their food is coming from and ensure availability of good food for people in the community.
Lastly, what is your own favourite thing about the local area?
I love the fact that most local producers are really resourceful and have adapted their businesses to meet the current climate. Generally, we like to build relationships and pull together. I was recently invited by Ruth's Little Kitchen to do a Facebook live with her and we had a great time talking about cake.
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