Interview with Mums Bake Cakes founder Paula Wilkinson
Read how Paula Wilkinson was inspired to launch new cake delivery service Mums Bake Cakes after struggling to find a gift for her niece.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Back in December last year, I lost my beautiful niece Davina to cancer at the age of 44. While she was battling cancer, she spent time with her family and friends, often visiting many cafes and restaurants and even enjoying a special visit for tea at the Ritz in London.
For her last birthday, I wanted to send her something relevant and special to her – not everyone wants flowers.
I went online and couldn’t find anything about a local baker making and supplying cakes in her area. If Davina had lived in Maidstone, I would have baked the cake myself or asked a friend.
I ended up arranging for my sister to organise a cake from a baker in the Llanrwst area. I drove to Wales to collect it and deliver it personally to Davina.
And from that, an idea was born!
I told Davina about the idea a few weeks before she passed away. She absolutely loved it and gave it her full support. She was so pleased to know that her legacy would be a cake-baking business in her memory.
What was your next step?
After much researching and talking to many people and advisers we decided to launch Mums Bake Cakes.
But first we needed to find the bakers, which resulted in a massive campaign across social media networks recruiting an army of talented bakers across the UK ready, willing and extremely able to create a delicious special gift at the touch of a button.
It was a new concept for bakers, and a completely new idea for customers.
How are you different?
Instead of sending flowers to a loved one for a special occasion, customers worldwide can now order a cake from a local baker to deliver to a local address, almost anywhere in England, Wales and Scotland.
Customers simply visit our website, find a baker in the location where they want a cake delivered, choose the product, delivery date and time, and place the order.
The delivery address could be a home, an office, an exhibition venue… anything! You name it, and there is likely to be a baker nearby. It’s as simple as that.
Delivery can be made anywhere up to 10 miles from the baker’s home address and is completely free of charge. An attractive card goes with every order with a message from the donor, listing the ingredients and inviting feedback on the quality of the service and product.
Customers will be supporting local fully registered and insured independent bakers whose goal has always been to turn their passion for baking into a business
The bakers upload their own creations and set their prices, their radius and the times they want to receive orders – this truly is flexible working. All our bakers are also registered with their local authority and are fully insured.
Now our bakers understand the site, and are enjoying working with us, the challenge is to get customers to the site to support the bakers.
Time spent marketing and getting the word out there is our key priority going forwards, so that we can truly support our bakers on the site.
What obstacles have you had to overcome?
My first obstacle was understanding the technical jargon and internet marketing speak that is used today.
I’ve been at home for 10 years with the children, and although I use social media with friends, the business world seems to use a different language to the rest of us! This has been a massive learning curve and the team around us have been patient and understanding while I get on board with the lingo!
By far our biggest hurdle has been to get the idea understood by customers, when we explain it – it is understood but speaking to 60million people individually is a task in itself!
What skills have you used on your business?
Having previously worked in marketing and advertising for Yellow pages before to a career break, baking was not my strong point. However, my marketing and advertising skills have been really useful.
My husband runs an IT support business, so the systems always work and his knowledge and key contacts have become invaluable during the first few months.
What are the highlights for you so far?
Our proudest moments so far have been receiving good luck tweets from both Paul Hollywood and Nadiya Jamir Hussain, Great British Bake Off winner 2015.
How do you balance your family and your business?
Balancing both home and work life has become more difficult, and understanding my own shortcomings and strengths has been a major learning curve for all the family.
Quality time with the family has become more paramount, and I’ve made the best of the time we have.
Days have got longer while I complete work when the children aren’t around. I also have an understanding husband who, with a little nudge, has adapted his routine to assist with mundane tasks.
Who inspires you?
I’m inspired by our bakers. Their creations and their belief in us has been truly amazing, and makes me want to do more for them each and every day – to help them succeed and be rewarded for what they do.
I hope this service will help enterprising mums and other network members take a step towards running their own business.
What are you top three tips for other aspiring entrepreneurs?
- Running your own business has massive highs and lows, both can be on the same day!
- Hold your nerve, and believe in what you are doing.
- Listen to the experts and use outside companies to cover any skills gaps you may have.
Want to order a cake or become a mum baker yourself? Visit the Mums Bake Cakes website.