Interview with Taeya and Maya, founders of No Guilt Bakes

The essence of No Guilt Bakes is tasty cake time-outs that make it that much easier sticking to a ketogenic or low carb lifestyle.

Taeya and Maya were convinced that their natural sweet tooth leanings in conjunction with FOMO (fear of missing out) was why they (and so many others) struggle to wholeheartedly adopt to new lifestyles and diets. After all, why should committing to a healthier way of living mean giving up on all your favourite ‘foodie joy’ moments?

Cakes was the start point but today No Guilt Bakes has extended its keto nouse into pancake, waffle and bread mixes.

What’s your career background?

TAEYA: Being a child of an African immigrant historically meant that there were only really three acceptable careers to pursue as far as Taeya’s parents were concerned: being a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer.

I went into banking (running a professional network in development finance) whilst baking cakes became my ‘after hours’ (guilty secret) obsession.

MAYA: PR was my original career path, a dynamic, constantly evolving profession that enabled me to work alongside any number of politicians, captains of industry and noteworthy dignitaries.

Recently I decided that it was time to fulfil my childhood lawyer dream so embarked upon a Law Conversion course whilst setting up No Guilt Bakes (NGB). 

Let’s just say that things have taken off a lot faster than either of us could possibly have imagined, so whilst for now ‘nocturnal baking’ is our thing, at some point in the not so distant future, we’ll need to take NGB onto a more permanent employment footing.

Where did the idea for No Guilt Bakes come from?

TAEYA: Maya (my cousin) and I lost over 40kg between us, adopting a ketogenic diet, however throughout this time frame our ‘cake love’ never waned.

We rummaged frantically amongst the shelves (real and virtual), but we simply couldn’t unearth any healthier leaning cakes that satisfied our sweet tooth urges. The only alternative was to learn on the job and launch our own specialist cake business.

Who’s your target audience?

TAEYA: There’s a lot of confusion regarding what ketogenic means. Keeping it simple, ketogenic is all about being ‘fat fuelled’ with no debilitating dependence on the pointless carbs and blood sugar highs that are so prevalent in modern-day diets. 

Yes, we’re a welcome face for the ketogenic community and other increasingly influential ‘food minorities’ (e.g. free-from fraternity) but in all honesty we appeal to anyone (the wider health-conscious community) looking to switch-up their lifestyles, without either the time or immediate know-how to do everything by themselves straight-away. 

How did you go from idea to actual business?

TAEYA: It all started with work colleagues who were happy to pay a small price to be my cake trial ‘guinea pigs.’ Our next stop-off was e-bay, the perfect forum for seeking out an impartial audience who wouldn’t be afraid to give us honest, undiluted feedback.

Our initial FMCG naivety rang loud and true when I wondered why consumers weren’t biting our hands off for our perfectly-proportioned cakes (at this point we had no SEO, ads, product placement….). The next day I taught myself online ads and instantly we were up and running.

MAYA: Lockdown initially caused us a lot of stress as overnight we had no access to our No.1 sales outlet, Brick Lane Market (our sales literally dried up overnight).

But we persevered and as with so many other ambitious start-ups, online (D2C) became our saviour. Deep down we were sure we were onto something special but early doors our confidence was rocked badly. 

With retailers and wholesalers now lining up to chat we’re so proud we held our nerve. 

What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

TAEYA: Getting people’s heads around a ‘fat friendly’ diet that is on so many levels counter-intuitive to what we were traditionally told about losing weight.

MAYA: Figuring out how to grow in a responsible, sustainable manner that keeps inevitable wrong turns and cul de sacs to an absolute minimum.

How are you spreading the word about what you do?

MAYA: It’s incredible to discover just how supportive the UK’s fledgling keto community is.

Word of mouth has been amazing amongst a food minority that hasn’t enjoyed the same potent growth as its food minority peers (plantbased, gluten-free…), even though North American trends (so often a truth barometer for what will happen in the UK down the line) suggests keto will ultimately outpace them all.

That said, our transition into mainstream online and retail means we need to work harder on our communications which is why Purple Pilchard is now part of our team.

What inspires you?

TAEYA: The hard yards our parents put into giving us the very best start in life.

MAYA: Every upbeat email, customer anecdote, online review. We are changing people’s lives/eating patterns and that’s a big deal! 

And how do you get the work-life balance right?

Working with your best friend/cousin is a massive plus!  

Find out more about No Guilt Bakes.