You’ve achieved global awards and recognition from Bridelux, Vogue Japan Wedding, Grace Ormonde Wedding Style, WedLuxe, and Brides, among others. How did you build Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium into one of the best luxury wedding cake purveyors in the world?
Building Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium into an international brand has been a slow and steady process. When I started my business over 14 years ago, I never dreamed the brand would be known in the UK, let alone worldwide and I have in part, Google, good karma and social media to thank for that.
I was determined to have my own style and it took me a while to not be afraid to develop it. I was very lucky to be personally taught by cake gurus like Ron Ben-Israel and Colette Peters who opened up my eyes to the possibility of earning a good living from making cakes. Building my business was slightly tricky, as I did not think of myself as an entrepreneur, did not do any research about the validity of my ideas, had no plan and barely had a website.
However, I have a can-do, adventurous spirit, having previously transitioned from being a scientist to a headhunter. I recognised that two things have to happen, one, that the technical side of things, i.e. the cakes, had to taste and look amazing and secondly, educate myself about the rules of engagement of the wedding industry and find a way to let people know about my fledgling company. With no money or connections, it was going to be a tall order.
The one thing that had worked for me in my previous careers was genuinely helping people achieve their goals. Doing precisely that allowed me to connect with people and opened unimaginable doors for me in the wedding industry. Eventually I ended up coming to the notice of a TV producer and her Majesty the Queen’s cousin, Lady Elizabeth Anson, a very high end party planner. These two meetings set the trajectory of my career and the result was my building a very recognisable luxury cake brand, Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium.
Where do you gather your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from a myriad of sources and my clients sometimes provide a lot of it. Their likes, loves and passions, often gives me plenty to work with which is absolutely great. I tend to draw further inspiration from colour, shapes, fashion, nature, texture, flowers, music, jewellery and the art world.
In other words, inspiration is everywhere and all you have to do is look. All you have to do is pull a particular source apart at the seams and let it unravel until ideas begin to form. I have sometimes made cakes where all I had was a blank canvas of shapes and some edible colours and I just let my hands do as they will. I love having the freedom to just create and I am thankful to have clients that will just let me do that. One of my favourite clients will just send me a colour palette or a photo of a room and that will be enough. Having free, unrestricted, creative rein leads to the creation of some pretty cool cakes.
Your cakes are truly spectacular and bespoke works of art. What is your design process?
My design process is one based on personalisation and individualisation. We firmly believe that no two events are the same and for that reason, all our luxury cakes are bespoke and custom made. When couples contact me we arrange for a consultation and tasting, I aim to make this as fun as possible, as it’s an opportunity for me to have their undivided attention for a few hours.
Prior to meeting, I ask about any flavour references, allergies, dietary requirements and intolerances. Any luxury wedding cake is part of a curated story of one of the best days of a couple’s life and must reflect perfectly their style.
I ask a lot of questions with regards to the wedding colours, styling, venue, flowers, theme and actively listen. Some couples have already formulated ideas, colour ways and mood boards whilst some may be completely open to suggestions. Then I go away and do a lot of research and then begin to formulate a number of possible luxury cake designs taking everything into consideration such as the type of venue, ceiling height, and where and how the cake will be displayed. Ideas are then sketched and tweaked until we are all happy, be it for a one tier cake or a 20 tier cake.
What motivated you to expand your business to offer Cake Making Masterclasses, as well as Business Coaching Masterclasses?
I created these courses simply because people kept asking me for advice and it was a way of gathering the disparate and discrete knowledge largely rooted in my practical experiences together.
There is such a knowledge gap in the market on how to set up a luxury business and make a success of it, even if you don’t have that background. It’s a way of helping people to develop their skills and show them that nothing is impossible with the right tools and attitude.
Often, hospitality and event professionals find themselves inundated with work, and find it particularly difficult to avoid burnout. As an internationally renowned speaker, competition judge, author, television host, business owner and coach, creator of luxury confections, and leader of two Masterclasses, how do you maintain a work life balance?
It’s often been said that our industry is about peaks and troughs, that is, feast or famine due to the seasonality of our work. The trick is to ensure that you don’t get caught up in it all.
I love doing a variety of things as I love exploring and developing different sides of me and also nowadays, any luxury business owner has to wear many hats.
What I do though is to take regular breaks, prioritise my time, set boundaries and work hours and most importantly, I learned to say no! Covid has forced many people to press the reset and rest button and collectively we have come to the conclusion that building healthy relationships with family and friends is one of the most important things in life.
If you were to leave us with something to think about, what would it be?
I would say; dreams are free, so dream the biggest you can. Having no money or connections should not deter you from following your dreams. I think it just makes for a more creative and adventurous journey.
A bit of tenacity and the right kind of hard work goes a long way. Get over your fear of rejection and reach out to people, but when you network, do it with the intention of giving and not just taking. Have a growth mindset and give yourself permission to keep making mistakes as long as you keep learning from them.
Reciprocity and kindness are two things that have helped me in my journey. Even if the people you help don’t help you in return, someone else definitely will. Create good energy and a great reputation and good karma will definitely find you.
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