Posted: Fri 15th Feb 2013
Magdalena Marsden (left) has been creative since early childhood. From an early age, she was always making something - whether a piece of jewellery or a new skirt. At the same time, she also developed a talent for baking and cooking and over the years became well-known among friends and family for her delicious chocolate truffles! In 2011, after working on the craft side of her interests in her spare time, she was finally able to turn this creativity into a full-time living.
"For the last 12 years, I would do just one craft fair a year before Christmas and sell my products," explains Magdalena. "I'd take annual leave from my paid job a week before the fair and just enjoy the time making things. "Then work started to become difficult, with lots of office politics going on," she continues. "I finally decided to leave to prevent complete exhaustion and burnout. I didn't want to jump straight into another job, so I thought that perhaps the time had come to follow my dream and set up my own business."
Cocoa & Heart was launched in 2011 and is all about handmade living, with the main part of the business focused on artisan baking and chocolate making, and a secondary line in fabric decorations and crafts. "I was fortunate in that my customers, who had only seen me once a year, were very supportive and quickly formed a solid customer base," Magdalena recalls. "To reach out further, I promoted my business through social media, local and regional craft fairs, my own website and other websites that are relevant to my business."
Being passionate about good bread - and having baked her own for a decade -Magdalena later turned her kitchen into a workspace and expanded the business through offering a bread-making course. "My courses have quickly become popular and everyone who comes is amazed what they can make with just a few ingredients. I wanted to offer a homely environment and friendly feel on the courses," she stresses. "The kitchen takes up to four people and the small group and individual attention means every student gets as much out of the day as possible. And, of course, I serve my own bread with lunch, and everyone is welcomed with freshly baked cake and coffee!"
The skills picked up during her career helped Magdalena get started in business but she also attended workshops at a local centre, with the one-to-one support sessions proving particularly valuable. "I'm used to finding my own information, so I've found the internet really useful for business advice and support - in particular, various craft and business forums and (of course) Enterprise Nation!" Magdalena feels her first business year was spent working out what works and what does not. Year two will be all about improving on that. "I want to expand my range of baking courses and do regular markets with my chocolates to become known more locally. At the back of my mind I do have plans for a shop/coffee place/workshop hub, but that's probably still in the distant future." Magdalena is helped in her ambitions by a supportive husband who attends fairs and acts as a sounding board for new ideas. "He is my rock and makes me laugh when he comes home from his job and wants to know how my day was, because as he says, 'There's always something interesting happening in your "work"!' "
James's story is taken from our newly updated StartUp Kit - the essential guide to starting and running a small business in 2013. It's available from the Enterprise Nation shop as both an ebook and a print publication. [product id="65592"] Photo credit: Cocoa & Heart