Calon Lân Cakes
Cardiff entrepreneur receives mentoring support to grow her baking business.
Sarah Perkins decided to start her own hobby business, baking cakes and biscuits, which soon grew into her full-time occupation. Calon Lân Cakes now supplies homemade Welsh cakes bakes to various events, weddings, corporate and individual clients.
Sarah turned to Business Wales for help to launch a new product and has since developed a successful relationship with a volunteer business mentor, who is guiding her with the future growth of the business.
Introduction to business
Launched by Sarah Perkins in 2016, Cardiff-based Calon Lân Cakes offers freshly baked Welsh cakes and fruity Bara Brith, using the finest locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. Using traditional baking methods, Sarah brings the best, homemade artisan Welsh products to her customers, whilst also catering for a variety of occasions including weddings and corporate events.
Why did you decide to set up your own business?
My heart has always been in food. I come from a large family and my mum has always loved to cook. She taught me and my siblings how to cook from a young age and I have done the same with my daughters – we all love being in the kitchen.
After working within Forensics (fingerprints) for 25 years, I decided to take voluntary redundancy, take the plunge and start my own business – an exciting, yet daunting experience!
What challenges did you face?
With the development of my new product, 'Make Your Own Welsh Cakes’ kits, I would say that the biggest challenge I faced was engaging with large companies (i.e. packaging companies). I found their large minimum order requirements problematic to begin with and it was proving difficult to get them to engage with a micro business. I found it much easier to deal with small businesses.
Business Wales support
Having turned to Business Wales for help with her new product, Sarah benefitted from advisory support and was subsequently referred to a mentor with experience in food production and distribution. Sarah was matched with Paul Phillips who has guided her through the business and financial planning process, helping her secure funding and successfully roll out her new ‘Make Your Own Welsh Cakes’ kits.
“The help I have received from Business Wales and my mentor has been invaluable. I have attended workshops with Superfast Business Wales, which helped with my social media and my website. My Business Wales adviser was very helpful, too, and it was he who referred me to the mentoring scheme.
“The help and guidance from my mentor Paul Phillips have been the most beneficial of all. Paul helped me write my business plan and cashflow forecasts which helped me secure funding from Cywain/Menter A Busnes to rebrand my Welsh cake kits. As Paul has vast experience within various business fields, his knowledge and advice guided me through the process – I’m not sure I would be where I am without his help.
“I would advise anyone who owns a small business to engage with Business Wales and particularly the mentoring scheme as early as possible.”
Paul Phillips, volunteer business mentor for Business Wales, added: “For someone with no manufacturing experience and sometimes ‘set' ideas on the way she wanted to go, I found Sarah a real pleasure to work with. She was very willing to listen to constructive ideas and suggestions on costing, profits, working on forecasts and building a business plan leading to a realistic cashflow.
“I saw her grow with confidence as she progressed her ideas dealing with third parties to get her product to market. I have no doubt that with the new knowledge she has acquired Sarah will continue to grow from strength to strength with the many other ideas she has.”
Future plans and ambitions
My plans are very exciting! I'm hoping to supply my Welsh cake kits to more retail outlets, to include Welsh places of interest and gift shops, amongst others. We already supply to St Fagans Museum and The World Heritage Centre, so I'm keen to expand in this area.
I'm also hoping to bring out a brand-new range of luxury Welsh cakes, too, with new flavours and textures – 2020 will be a busy one!
If you want to read more success stories of how Business Wales has helped other people like you to start or grow their businesses, visit https://businesswales.gov.wales/case-studies or follow @_businesswales / @_busnescymru on Twitter.