“What an awful year.”
“I can’t wait for this year to be over.”
Everywhere I look, people are saying things to the tune of “thank goodness 2016 is almost over”.
As tempted as I am to join in the mourning of so many people and things this year (because there’s been some truly awful news stories and personal tragedies), I want to reflect on the 280 Bakes story of 2016 - and it's far from depressing.
For 280 Bakes, it was a momentous year. I developed the company from selling cakes from my porch to neighbours to delivering home baked cakes across the city of Bristol, and then in the Autumn, expanding into Portishead. I’ve created new recipes, improved my graphic design and cake baking skills, and learned a lot about running a business. Due to growth in sales and a loyal customer base, I recruited three freelance bakers (plus one recruitment ‘practice run’ for an event) between September and November, and we still didn’t have enough weekends free to attend all the events we were invited to!
A real highlight was the Bristol vegan festival, where we had the chance to reach even more of the vegan cake lovers in the south-west. Vegans are still 60% of our customer base, so it was really lovely to be involved in such a celebrated festival – and it was our best event in terms of sales, too!
We’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of new people, from entrepreneurs and mentors, from local food champions to customers who return time after time to our service. We have met so many inspirational people through various ‘start up’ business support organisations - an eye opening experience, not just in terms of how we might do things differently, more efficiently, but also how much help there is available for new business in Bristol. BRAVE, YENA and Get Set For Growth - South West are friends of 280 Bakes, and special thanks goes to Social Enterprise Works (Rob in particular). Without their encouragement and ‘sounding board’ status in the early days, 280 Bakes may never have left my front porch.
The most exciting part and proudest moment of our business journey this year was winning the 'Seats for Start Ups' business competition with BMI Regional. I won a return flight - anyone who knows me knows what a dream prize that is for me! - to Switzerland to check out bakeries and cakes done Swiss style. More on this later, but here's a quick taster *ahem* of the cakey delights I found...
One of the most defining moments we had this year was when CakeOD, our same day cake delivery service, was registered as a trademark. This was an incredible step forward for the business, protecting our unique service of home baked cakes ‘on demand’. Investing in the registration was a big step, and not a low-cost event, but it was worth it. It’s allowed the business to grow, and CakeOD continues to grow as a brand as a result.
Our business journey and my year personally hasn’t been all icing flowers and sprinkles, believe me, but for 280 Bakes, 2016 was a year not to be forgotten. Thank you to friends and family who have been so supportive. Helping me with emergency printing of fliers at home, cake testing (such a hardship, I know!), listening to my woes and excitements, helping at events when I needed an extra pair of hands – all very much appreciated.
And for the world in general? It wasn’t so bad.
Hell, 2016 was the year Leo DiCaprio FINALLY won an Oscar!
So, 2016 kinda got a bad reputation, but let’s deal with it. Let’s learn lessons from the bad, and remember the good bits of cakes and current issues both.
Let’s make 2017 even better - Happy New Year!
Owner, 280 Bakes
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