Interview with Mark and Mel Sinjakli, co-owners of My Baker

My Baker is the amazing, one-stop online cake portal for time-poor cake aficionados who want something more meaningful than a quick-fix off-the-shelf treat.

Originally launched in 2016, it could be argued that My Baker was a visionary brand born before its time, when you consider that artisanal online offers with a nationwide reach were little more than a ‘flighty’ notion.

What’s your career background?

Mark: I’m a chartered accountant who’s long harboured entrepreneurial aspirations having spent a majority of my commercial leaning career in corporate restructuring and turnarounds. As satisfying as it undoubtedly is to bring a business back from the precipice, I had always craved my own ‘hands-on’ business venture, where I could take the nub of an incredible idea and drive it to the next level.

Trethowans
Trethowans

Mel: As it happens the idea was sitting (quite literally) under my nose. I’m a self-taught baker who’d spent the last year working for My Baker, loving the experience yet visualising the significant untapped opportunity to turn this enterprising brand from a plucky pioneer into a potent category leader.     

What’s the idea behind My Baker?

Simply put, My Baker supplies high quality cakes and bakes to discerning customers seeking to surprise and treat friends and family, and thoughtful businesses looking to go the extra yard to thank employees and clients for their fantastic work efforts especially during these tough, ‘working remotely’ times. 

This is a one-stop virtual cake shop that covers everything from gooey, ‘feelgood’ brownies to head-turning celebratory cakes (and everything in-between). It’s IMPORTANT to note that My Baker is NOT a series of local baker shops within a virtual shop (for example, Etsy), it’s a talented, artisanal baker community with a nationwide reach, offering an extensive array of deliciously diverse cakes and bakes.

What’s your USP?

B2C: Our unrivalled pledge to: freshly baked, striking decoration and deliverable within 48hrs (24 at a push) means we’re a vibrant business fine-tuned to 1) cake enthusiasts living hectic cash-rich/time-poor lives, 2) overseas relatives wanting to surprise loved ones and 3) parents eager to go the extra yards to make their child’s birthday special.

B2B: This high-flying sub-segment, as one might imagine, started to gain real traction over the Lockdown period where we fostered a number of creative ways to help stuck-at-home workers feel truly appreciated by their employers, although we’re equally adept at fulfilling complex multi-site, multi-city orders (for example, 5,000 bakes delivered to 54 WeWork sites in seven cities on the same morning). 

What lessons have you learned during lockdown?

1) Putting our Baking Community first

Whilst no business is bullet-proof, it’s fair to say that our bold My Baker template was well suited to a ‘less commuting’ lifestyle. Yes, there have been many various obstacles to overcome, namely meeting a massive surge in popularity for on-line offerings like ours and ensuring we had a far-reaching ‘fine baker’ fraternity to accommodate the significant growing pains we were experiencing outside of our London/South East heartland.

It’s fair to say that the bedding down and expanding our fine baker community hasn’t happened overnight and yet, bringing together the right blend of artisanal bakers looking for a bigger challenge, coupled with a caring business framework that allowed them to focus solely on the task in hand, by working seamlessly under a My Baker banner has been less fraught than we could have possibly hoped for. 

The secret has been Mel’s ‘been in your shoes’ outlook, which has enabled us to establish an unparalleled, ‘sympathetic baker’ reputation. For example, we meet all deliver costs, we provide cast-iron converted orders (not vague leads the baker has to convert) and Mel prioritises being close to hand in the role of friendly ‘been there’ mentor   

2) Specialist options

In these increasingly health-conscious, ingredient-aware times we’ve established a welcome reputation for offering ‘real’ choice for top-notch ‘food minority’ orders, be that gluten-free, dairy-free, halal …. which today accounts for a significant slice of our flourishing business.

3) Celebrating comfort food

There’s a lot of press noise suggesting that Lockdown was the moment large swathes of consumers re-evaluated their eating habits and decided to eat better. This is undeniably true. However, comfort food also flourished at a time when growing numbers of ‘trapped at home’ families sought out high end treats to support their ‘small splurge’ urges. The underlying theme seemed to be one of, ‘if you’re going to have a time-out from your healthier living convictions, break ranks for something truly worthwhile!’

4) No cutting corner ingredients

My Baker stubbornly insists on no ingredient skimping which means there’s no alternative to best-in-class chocolate and free-range eggs. 

5) Unearth opportunities

A crisis can also be an opportunity – we bought the business at a time when investment was drying up and business owners were panicking!

6) Small is cool

Retain a small nimble business that can keep ahead of the pack. During Lockdown we pivoted our business towards: postals, smaller cakes, corporate (gifts to staff at home) HOWEVER slowly we’re re-pivoting back to larger cakes, weddings, corporate (in office)

What’s next for My Baker?

  • Pursue our dream to be the pre-eminent Interflora of sublime tasting cakes
  • Accelerate the evolution of our two distinct business strands (B2C and B2B)
  • Underline our ongoing commitment to position our bakers as the true heroes of the hour
  • Forge some mutually beneficial collaborations with other like-minded brands
  • Crank up our marketing comms and social media presence

Find out more about My Baker.