Saturday, 12 March 2011

{Supplier Spotlight} Cat's Whiskers Cake Design

1. In just a few sentences, could you describe your business?

I’m Helen Finney and I own and run Cat’s Whiskers Cake Design. We’re a family run bespoke cake business. We work from home and believe we offer high quality (great tasting!) products with a design that is unique to you.

2. When did you set Cat's Whiskers Cake Design up?
The business was set up in 2005 and I ran the business part time alongside my day job in Finance until 2009 when I was made redundant. We’ve been full time for 16 months now and absolutely love it!

3. How did Cat's Whiskers Cake Design Start? Cake decorating has always been around for me – my mum did classes when I was little so she always made fabulous cakes for our birthdays. When my brother got married I helped her with his wedding cake and it really sparked an interest for me. I took classes at night school and learned all the basic skills and then more advance skills such as sugar flower-making. I just loved it!

4. Why did you set up Cat's Whiskers Cake Design?
I worked hard to gain my qualifications as a Chartered Accountant but knew I was suppressing my creative side. Just after I started my night school course I found out I was expecting our first child and my priorities also shifted towards work that would fit in with childcare responsibilities. It took a few years and a bit of luck but we got there in the end. I now work from home and am able to do the school run and look after my pre-schooler too.

5. How many employee?s are there in your business and who are they?
There’s just me and my mum – she works with me providing a valuable extra pair of hands for icing large cakes and feeding small children!
6. How did you decide on your business name?
We have an elderly cat so the idea started with him. The phrase ‘the cat’s whiskers’ kept popping into my head when I was trying to think of something that conveyed that we were high quality. We thought it would be a good name that stood out a bit

7. What?s the best thing about your business?
One of the best things about our business is that we are home based (this also provides it’s own challenges though too!). Without the overheads of premises to cover we can keep our prices very competitive and provide a relaxed environment to discuss designs with our customers. It also means that we can offer flexibility with consultation and collection times, and that I can keep working on a design at any time of the day (or night!) to take advantage of when that flash of inspiration strikes.
8. What do you find most challenging about your business?
As we work from home we don’t have a shop-front. This can be a challenge as customers don’t drive past us every day meaning we don’t pick up passing trade. We get a lot of business through our website and via word of mouth recommendation. We’ve worked hard to get involved with the local business community too and this has helped us to raise our profile locally.

9. What have been some of the greatest rewards from your business?
I love seeing the reaction of clients when they see their cakes! We had one lady cry when she collected her daughter’s christening cake because she loved it so much! We also recently had a couple who were getting married and didn’t think they could afford a bespoke designed wedding cake – then they met us at a wedding fair. We worked with them and created a design they loved that was within their budget. Being part of such a special celebration is wonderful.
10. What's the best thing Cat's Whiskers Cake Design give to its customers?
We offer a very personal design experience – you visit our home and drink tea with us, eat the cake we have made in our kitchen and then create a design with us that is unique to you. Especially for a wedding, we take on all the details of your celebration and how you want the whole day to feel and we incorporate all your ideas into a design that is perfect for you, be that a simple design or sugar flowers to co-ordinate with your bouquet or masses of sparkly cake jewellery! We handmade everything ourselves and our aim is for you to have a totally unique cake that you love.
11. Do you have any top tips for choosing a Cake Maker?
Have a look at their previous work on their website and then get in touch to discuss your ideas. If you’re looking for a wedding cake then go and meet them at a fair and look at their stand. Talk to them and basically go with your gut feeling! If you like the person and the kind of designs they’ve done before then it’s highly likely that you will be able to create a design you love. Oh and don’t forget to taste their cake….a cake that tastes fabulous is just as important as one that looks incredible!
12. What three pieces of advice would you give to anyone who wants to run their own business?
- don’t underestimate the amount of time and effort that you need to put in to making it a success! I’m working harder now than I ever have!
- be brave – if you believe in your product and your business then you will succeed but you have to be prepared to put on your sales and marketing hat and sell yourself (no matter how excruciating you may find it!)
- treat your customers with respect – as a small business your reputation is everything and a happy customer will tell everyone how great you are….but an unhappy customer will do that too.

13. Where can I find out more about Cat's Whiskers Cake Design?
We have a website also a page on Facebook  and we’re on Twitter too @whiskerscakes

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