Posted: Tue 27th Sep 2011
"I've always loved baking," announces Victoria Clair, owner of Castle CupcakeÂ in Barnard Castle, County Durham. "But what actually started me making cakes was my sister and friends saying they could never find the cakes they wanted in the shops. "So I said 'Well I could have a go' and started making cakes. Everyone loved it and said 'You should make it a business'. So I did."Â Though she makes it sound extremely straightforward, Victoria's decision to go it alone involved wrestling with herself over whether she should accept an offer of a good managerial position in fashion retail. "I've worked in fashion since I left school and this was what I'd always wanted. But I wasn't getting job satisfaction," she admits. "I knew I wasn't 100 per cent happy. I wanted something more enjoyable and that made other people happy, too. "We moved house and that gave me the extra kick to leave my job and go into the cake business," Victoria continues. "I would have had to commute to Manchester from Barnard Castle in County Durham." Though just two months into her new venture, she's sure it was the right decision. "Once I started baking, it just worked," she reveals. "It's a love for something and it makes you happy in your job." Thanks to Facebook, a website and promotional flyers distributed locally, Castle Cupcake already has customers across the UK and even in France ("They don't have cupcakes in France," Victoria points out) and business is building up nicely. So much so, that Victoria needs the Â£500 she's received from Fund101 to buy the tools she needs to keep up with demand. She plans to spend the money on a stand mixer, occasion cake decorating tools and an acrylic display stand. "They'll mean I can complete my orders in better time and take on more customers," Victoria explains. "The hand-held whisks that you buy in the shops break all the time.Â And if you've got 100 cupcakes for a wedding, you can't afford that to happen." "I'm finding a high demand for occasion cakes - that's why I need the occasion cake tools - and with just one acrylic stand at the moment, I can only do one wedding at a time. It's to expand my business. "I always told myself that one day I would have my own business but I never thought it would be cakes," she laughs. "There's a big difference between fashion and baking."
"It was hard, I can't deny it," Victoria stresses. "I started off on Facebook with friends and family, then ran a giveaway on my business page so I was giving something back to people who voted. I got 3-400 via Facebook and Twitter and the last 100 was friends and family. I thought I was never going to get there."
"In two years' time I'd like my own cake shop. That's my goal. At the moment, I've just started out and I'm taking each day as it comes. But from the feedbackÂ I'm getting, I know that's definitely my target. And I'm very interested in the wedding side of the business - events and occasions."