I can't quite believe that our first birthday is here. When I launched I was a complete novice in terms of running a business and to say that this year has been a steep learning curve is an understatement!
Running your own business is a roller coaster and there are so many things you need to think about - who would have thought there would be so much admin with cakes? However, I have LOVED every minute and I'm so proud of how far the business has come.
I am so grateful to all my family and friends that have supported me over this year - I truly could not have done it without you all. Every purchase, social media share or comment, word of encouragement or visit really does mean the world. I am so lucky to have you all and love you dearly.
A few special mentions must go to Phil (aka Mr Calon Cakes), thank you for believing in me, your words of encouragement and endless tech support have been amazing. You've taken the pressure off and allowed me the freedom to 'have a go', thanks babe x. To Dad, thanks for decorating the stall and being Calon's biggest fan and social media commentator! Mews and Garp, chief Welsh Cake testers and loo break providers - diolch.
A HUGE special thanks has to go to my mum Nina who comes every Thursday to wash up for me (and believe me there's a lot!) and also helps out at food festivals and the market every week, you truly are a mum in a million.
Way back in October 2017 I attended a number of Business Wales courses early on to gain some advice on social media, book keeping and policies. These were invaluable in terms of networking and getting o know other people who were in the same situation as me - taking a risk and going on their own (scary stuff!). I would highly recommend these courses to anyone thinking of starting their own business and I thank them for their help at the start.
Initially, I had the plan of concentrating on celebration cakes and food festivals. As I was completely new to the scene I didn't realise just how far in advance you needed to book some food festivals (nothing like taking the plunge blindly!!). Thankfully, as I launched towards Halloween and Christmas I was kept very busy with seasonal baking orders, School Christmas Fairs and I also attended the National Botanical Gardens of Wales Food Festivals in December and January.
I remember setting up in the gardens for the first time in December, nervous as to how it would go, how long it would take to set up the stall and how my cakes would be received. As it turned out there was no need to be nervous, I remember meeting loads of stall holders including the lovely BeeDazzled Cymru, My Vintage Delights and Sloppy Joe's and they soon helped me to settle in and feel at ease. To top this off I had a surprise visit from my amazing Aunty Ros, Uncle Julian and cousins Laura and Emma which MADE my first day. Their surprise meant the world to me and I was so grateful that they had come to support me.
I had such a blast at this event, seeing people's reactions to my cakes was amazing and I felt a real buzz from speaking to customers and other traders alike. This convinced me that I was in for a fun time ahead.
It was thanks to this event that I found out about Carmarthen Farmers Market from Gary and Kris. I started on the market in March and I have to say I absolutely love Fridays. Those who know me well know I love a chat and so the market suits me perfectly. I love the network that I have built up with other traders too, they are there for advice, support, they to help promote my business and are just there as friends, I am truly grateful to you all. Selling cakes to my customers is just lovely and introducing new flavours, as well as selling favourites is so much fun. Regular customers that visit week in week out are the biggest compliment any baker can have and I count myself very lucky.
When I look back at the start I was offering 6 cupcake variations at food festivals, now we regularly have between 11-13 per week including Vegan and 'Made with Gluten Free ingredient' varieties as well as other regulars such as rocky roads and mini cakes.
There have been some real highs and lows throughout the year. Winning Best Food Stall at Lampeter Food Festival was a definite high, I was so proud of this and still have the plaque up on my mantle piece in pride of place. On the other hand it is devastating when you've put your heart and soul into cooking for an event but the weather means that people don't turn up so you have stock left. This can't be helped and I've learnt this year to make sure you monitor the weather closely!
I also love how much I've grown in terms of cake decorating techniques. I spend my evenings trawling YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration, learning new techniques and watching other bakers that I aspire to be like. I still am learning daily.
Receiving a customer review, email or text to thank you for a cake is such a thrill and I'm so pleased I have been able to be a small part of lots of people's special days.
Recently, we have launched our online shop which is the latest plan to expand. I'm thrilled with how well it has been received so far and look forward to seeing what the next year brings. I can't quite believe that I am getting to live my dream, I love my job, how lucky am I?