Forget a certain caterpillar shaped birthday cake, Fiona’s one-off 3D celebration cakes have taken off during the last year. She started making cakes for friends and family before realising the business was gaining traction on Instagram.
Fiona from Babycakes
Baking has been a hobby of Fi’s ever since she was little and, much like the rest of us during lockdown one, she found her passion for sweet goods once again in 2020. After the pandemic forced her to work from home, Fi found herself taking on some baking and decoration classes to fill some time and learn new skills.
Taking to Instagram to share her creations, Fi quickly had friends and family bringing all kinds of weird and wonderful ideas for her to turn into cakes and started selling them for birthdays, christenings etc.
The great thing about starting your side hustle via social media is that your following can grow really organically and it’s quite easy to reach people outside your own network fairly quickly. This is exactly what happened for Fi, not long after posting her first few cakes on Instagram and being tagged by some friends and family, she soon saw orders coming in from new customers and businesses reaching out wanting to work together.
She now has a range of customers across London and saw business really take off during lockdown as people wanted to make stay-at-home celebrations that bit more special.
Read the full interview below.
Fi, thanks for catching up with us! Talk to us about a typical day…
Someone asked me this really recently and I found it really hard to answer! So, my day might be going to the office 9 to 5 and then coming home and spending the evening on a Monday or Tuesday preparing dough and batter and baking the cakes I need.
I’ll then be back in the office the next day and will come home and crack on with all the decorating so the cake is ready for collection.
If I have a day where I'm working from home, I can be a lot faster. I can bake in the morning and then decorate in the evening once the cakes have chilled.
Is it just you running the business?
Yeah, it’s just myself. It would be great to obviously get someone further down the line who could help me with the day-to-day, but currently I’m just not at that point yet.
So you must be fairly busy juggling work and Babycakes?
Definitely, if anything I’m working so much more than I ever was before. But, I’ve never been good at not doing anything. I’m always drawing, painting etc. and this has allowed me to do something with a bit more purpose than just purely for fun. It’s still fun but obviously it’s nice to have goals and stuff now. Even if it’s just supermarket runs and trying to find all the right ingredients, it’s always busy.
How long does it take to make one of your bespoke cakes?
It basically takes around two days to make the cakes, but you’re not working solidly over those two days.
You have to make all your batter, bake it and let it fully chill overnight. You then have to decorate the next day once the cake has completely chilled in the fridge. There may also be different stages of the decoration where you may need to freeze it in between sections, so it can take quite a long time.
The decoration for the trainer cake on my Instagram took around four hours of decorating to get it looking like that.
So that’s been something I’ve had to consider when it comes to pricing and thinking about all the ingredients, time etc. they may seem slightly pricier than a shop-bought cake, but I’m still not really giving myself much room for profit.
Who are Babycakes’ customers?
I’ve had quite a mixture, it’s people in London as I currently can’t hand deliver too far. One thing I noticed is that last year, during lockdown where people would normally have a birthday at the pub or in town, they couldn’t do that and were only allowed a few people in their garden or something they wanted to make it special.
People were spending more money on extravagant things such as bespoke cakes than they normally would.
I’ve had a real mixture of customers from mums going all out for their children’s parties to people in their 20s trying to spoil friends on their birthday.
So how did it feel when you took the leap and started Babycakes?
It was so exciting! I remember the day I decided to do it and take it a bit more seriously. You get all these grand ideas about what it could turn into and all the orders that could come in.
I’m not that good at social media but even when I post something I’ve noticed that I get more enquiries coming in and it’s really exciting working with people on how I could bake something for them.
I don’t know where it’s going to go from here but that’s part of the excitement.
My friend Josh from Uni who designed my logo, has helped me make leaflets and other bits so I’m going to start taking marketing of the business a bit more seriously and that could maybe be the next level up from where I am at the moment.
So I’m mostly an Instagram person, but my younger siblings have really helped me with realising I need to be in other places. They made me get TikTok, which I had no clue about before then.
Were there any barriers or concerns when starting out?
There was nothing huge to begin with, I started my website around September last year and at that point still wasn’t sure if I was going to turn this into anything serious. I wanted a website to be more of a portfolio, a bit like people have an instagram page, but obviously my Mum and Dad aren’t on Instagram so it’s better just to have a website.
When it came to things like that there wasn’t too much concern but it’s not until recently that things have been harder and the hoops you have to jump through have begun.
As a food business there’s a lot you have to do. There’s all kinds of licenses and registrations that you have to get from the council and the Food Standards Agency. I’ve completed allergen training and then had to wait before doing the next thing and so on. My local council mentioned that there have been so many new businesses set up over lockdown that they have to go and check and inspect all of them and there’s a few things I still have to wait for until they physically come out and check my property.
The admin has been the toughest barrier to overcome trying to get Babycakes off the ground. It’s not as easy as just having a website and a business account, there’s so much more to it which has been a learning curve, especially for someone who isn’t naturally business minded. I’ve been learning as I go.
What’s been your biggest success so far?
Something that I’m most proud of? I had an order on the weekend from Ulissesworld world that has over 8 million followers and is a major celeb. He did a post and my phone was blowing up the other day and he had done a post saying ‘How wicked is my cake?’ and that was so cool. That was a really cool moment and I’d love more things like this to happen.
Also, when I started working with Shein, the clothing company, they asked me to do their monthly cakes which was a really proud moment.
Hopefully it all just continues from here.