Posted: Sun 11th Apr 2021
After suffering life-changing injuries in 2017 Emma Randell soon realised that she'd be unable to return to her teaching role. It was during her long and painful recovery that she turned to baking.
Sixteen months after her accident Emma launched Scrumptious Bakes, and within her first three years has won more awards than you can shake a rolling pin at. Grab yourself a cup of tea and a slice of cake, and be inspired by Emma's truly remarkable journey…
Emma, take us back to the beginning. When did you discover that you had a flair for baking?
"I've always loved baking. I used to bake with my grandmother, Barb, in her cosy little kitchen. And my grandfather, Gordon, was a master baker. In fact, four generations of my family have been professional bakers and confectioners. Oh, and my mother is a former Michelin-starred chef. So I learnt a lot from each of them growing up.
"It was never something that I pursued professionally though. I was actually a teacher of French and Italian before Scrumptious Bakes.
"But in January 2017 I suffered an injury that left me with little to no feeling from the waist down. As I became stronger and could stand again, baking for family and friends became a way for me to reconnect with my body, mind and soul. It gave me a new sense of purpose which, in turn, helped to relieve the trials of chronic pain and rehabilitation. It helped me to rediscover a sense of identity and it helped rebuild my self-confidence."
When did your passion for baking turn into a business?
"I started Scrumptious Bakes in June 2018, 16 months into recovery. Along with my love of baking I also found the concept of starting my own business exhilarating. Stimulating my mind was equally as important to my recovery as each physical step, so dreaming about my business and how it would look and feel gave me hope and strength."
You've been a member of Enterprise Nation for a while now. How has this helped you on your business journey?
"My business and I have grown in leaps and bounds thanks to Enterprise Nation. The incredible wealth of advice has helped me to learn about so many areas of small business life. I'm always inspired by your member success stories too.
"I've attended a number of Lunch and Learn webinars along the way. I learnt how to 'own my story' and 'deliver great customer service'. Lucy Werner taught me some amazing tips on how to do PR for my business too. I also downloaded a great presentation by Georgina White exploring how to best use Pinterest to showcase my products.
"I believe in the importance of connection, and I love to champion other small businesses, so I've enjoyed attending some local meet-ups hosted by Enterprise Nation. They've really encouraged my confidence.
"The Start Up Kit is fabulous too. I've bought several hard copies for friends as birthday presents. It's so brilliant that you are offering it as a free download for aspiring entrepreneurs.
"Since becoming an Enterprise Nation member we've rebranded, built a new website, been featured in British Vogue, won several awards and worked with some incredible people within the wedding industry."
You've been in British Vogue?
"Yes. My business has grown significantly since its humble beginnings, and I am so proud of all it has achieved so far.
"In our first year, we won the award for Best Newcomer across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight at the Muddy Stilettos Awards. And in our second year, we won the award for Best Wedding Cake Artist at the 2019 Hampshire Wedding Supplier Awards. And yes, we received an invitation from British Vogue to feature in its Match Made In Vogue wedding campaign.
"In November 2020 we were thrilled to win the Wedding Cake Designer/Maker of the Year award for the South Central region at The Wedding Industry Awards (TWIA). And a month later we were honoured to receive the 2020 Milspo Ad Astra award, for striving for excellence through adversity."
Incredible. So what's your secret? What makes Scrumptious Bakes so good?
"We choose to bake exclusively with high-quality ingredients. Firstly, because every ingredient contributes to exceptional taste, and secondly because we value suppliers who promote sustainable production, farming in harmony with nature, and respecting and giving back to their communities. These values, along with integrity and passion, underpin all that we do at Scrumptious Bakes."
Lots of people reading this will be inspired by your story. What would be your advice to anyone thinking of starting a new venture?
"Believe in yourself and your business. Learn and grow as much as you can. Create brand values that underline everything you do. Champion, support and share other small businesses as much as possible. Network and be open to ideas and possibilities. Know your why and keep believing, especially when the going gets tough. Be brave!"
Speaking of 'tough'... how has Scrumptious Bakes been impacted by the pandemic?
"The last year has been incredibly difficult for Scrumptious Bakes. Fewer weddings and events inevitably meant fewer orders. Staying true to our core values of kindness and integrity, we made the decision to fully refund any clients who decided to cancel their weddings or events due to the pandemic."
With restrictions now easing, what does the future hold for Scrumptious Bakes?
"I am so excited to continue to build on our success so far. We have lots of ideas for growth, including offering macarons by post, online baking classes and video tutorials. And we're looking forward to a busy summer of weddings this year too.
"One of the things I love most about Scrumptious Bakes is using my grandad's perfectly balanced palette knives, knowing their gently worn wooden handles have put the finishing touches to countless wedding cake designs before. And now I'm using them to create beautiful, delicious centrepieces. It is such a privilege to be a small part of one of the most significant days of our clients' lives. I just love bringing dreams to life."
Photo credits: photographer: We Are // The Clarkes (@wearetheclarkes) | florist: Eden Blooms (@edenblooms) | venue: Millbridge Court (@millbridgecourt)