Today we talk to Shelly from La Belle Cake Company. She’s been running a cake business for 10 years in Bedfordshire, UK.
Tell us about yourself and your company!
Hi, I am Shelly Shulman and I run La Belle Cake Company. We are Bedfordshire’s leading creator of award winning wedding and celebration cakes. Over the last 10 years we have created award winning, bespoke cakes for private, celebrity, corporate, and royal clients.
Working from our established studio location we have extensive experience in creating a wide range of cakes for a variety of occasions from weddings to private parties. Our creations have given great satisfaction to our customers and the positive feedback we receive is testament to the quality of our work. We are proud of the reputation we have established and strive daily to maintain and improve it.
What would you say makes you stand out from other companies?
We believe that our clients deserve the highest quality products and are proud of the creative and bespoke design service that is our unique selling point. This delivers cakes that are original, unique and which feature 100% edible decoration, including hand piped detailing and delicate sugar flowers. It is this dedication to originality, quality and sugar craft sets us apart from others. Our high standards and luxury products have created a brand and reputation that is recommended by some of the finest luxury venues and providers – locally and nationally.
How many years are you in business? How has the business changed throughout the years?
This year we celebrate our 10th Birthday. Over the years we have gone from being a home baker to being based in a gorgeous studio. We have also rebranded to represent the luxury and quality products and service we offer to our clients.
What was your most interesting project?
My most interesting project was my most challenging. It involved creating a 75ft long cake for the 75th birthday of London Luton Airport. Working out the logistics of both making and delivering such a large cake really took us forward as a company.
What would you recommend other entrepreneurs? How to get started?
To other entrepreneurs I would say go with the flow and don’t expect too much too soon. A business takes time to grow. I have a number of wedding suppliers asking me how I got recommended here and there but its been through taking the time to build relationships with people. Success doesn’t happen overnight.
How do you acquire new customers?
We get a lot of new customers via recommendations from both previous clients and other suppliers. This can be verbal and by social media. We are lucky that by having a shop location in a town location we have a high footfall of passing trade which gets our name out. However a great piece of advise I was given was to go after new customers last. Its all about forming long lasting relationships with your current client base.
How do you use LinkedIn?
I use LinkedIn to network with other suppliers, post press releases and images of my latest designs. It’s a great way of reaching out to those people who aren’t on Facebook and Twitter in a more professional setting.
What is the best business decision you’ve ever made?
The best business decision I have made is rebranding. After being in business for 8 years changing a company’s identity can be risky but it’s paid off. Our company has gone from strength to strength and features in more high end publications.
How many people are involved in your business?
I am the main person in the business but I do have people who help me out so I can focus on what I do best which is making the cakes. I have someone who helps with my social media, someone who bakes the cakes and also a business mentor who looks over my business and spots the little things that make a huge difference.
How do you stay productive and not get distracted?
Customer Satisfaction is my goal and if I get distracted than it shows in my work so I alway keep the customer at the forefront of my mind and that keeps me focused. I also find time management helps and setting certain times for certain tasks like emails etc means I focus 100% on one task at a time.
Any books about setting up a business you can recommend?
I love business books. I have read books by Karen Brady, Duncan Bannatyne and Lord Sugar and take a little bit from each. Every business is unique so there is no one definitive book that I would recommend but I think keeping an open mind and taking other peoples opinions and suggestions on board is always good. There is always room for growth.
What inspired you to start this business?
My nan was a fantastic cake maker and my mum used to make all of mine and my sisters birthday cakes as a child so when I had my own children it was a given I would make their birthday cakes. At one of their parties another parent asked me to make a cake for their child and the business grew naturally from there. When it started to interfere with my day job then I made the decision to do one or the other and I chose cakes.
What is your daily routine of running your business?
I get into the studio at 8.30 and first things first – the kettle goes on. Then I answer any emails and make sure all admin is up to date. My tasks changes daily, Wednesday I focus on making the decorations that will adorn the cakes that week and Thursday and Friday are spent covering and decorating the cakes. Saturday is set aside for wedding cake consultations as well as delivering that weeks creations.
What are the best and worst parts of running your business?
The best part is the customer satisfaction and the lovely emails we get. The looks on children faces when they come and collect their cakes. The worst part is being where the buck stops. Being self employed everything starts and ends with me so that can be overwhelming at times.
Are there any blogs, podcasts or Facebook Groups about business you follow closely?
I follow a lovely lady called Bite Me Marketing who always shares helpful tips and advise. The Girls mean business is also great. I think it is good though to have faith in your own ability – following too many blogs too closely can give you conflicting advise and you can end up doubting your self. Its always good to follow your own heart and your gut.
To learn more about Shelly’s cake business please visit Labellecakecompany.co.uk.