Founded by Leah Clark, Capel Bakes supply quality homemade cakes to tea rooms, coffee shops and individuals. The business is based in Carmarthenshire and offers a range of traditional layer cakes such as carrot cake, traybakes such as millionaire shortbread, and a variety of brownies. In addition, Capel Bakes offer bespoke cakes for special occasions, birthday celebrations and weddings.
Soon after launching her business, Leah was able to secure her first big contract and is now working with the National Botanical Gardens of Wales, supplying cakes for their coffee shop.
What they did
Leah has always been passionate about baking. Having previously baked for family and friends, many of whom suggested she did this for a living, she felt it was the right time to start her own business, doing something she loved.
"It started with an idea and an enjoyment of baking. Your time in work takes up a large proportion of your life and if possible, it is best to do something you enjoy. A friend gave me the Business Wales contact information and I attended some incredibly useful workshops on setting up and getting started. This really helped me to focus on defining the scope of my business within a short couple of sentences." – Leah Clark
What would they do differently?
"I would recommend joining a support network within your field to learn from their experience and bounce off ideas at the start. I recently joined several cake support groups on Facebook, which have proved highly beneficial. I would also recommend having an organised system of keeping and filing receipts and invoices."
Their proudest moment in business
"Gaining the National Botanical Gardens of Wales as customer has been my largest achievement to date. It was a scary moment taking in cake samples and having a large crowd of staff tasting the different cakes and then having to wait for feedback. I imagine the contestants of the Great British Bake-Off experience similar emotions, if not worse!
Another proud moment was delivering my first wedding cake. A wedding cake is more stressful in that you feel the pressure to ensure that everything is perfect for your clients’ ‘big day’."
Do they use Welsh in their business? If so, how has this helped them
"My core business is to supply outlets and have little direct interaction with those enjoying my cakes. However, I recently had a stall at the Festival of the Senses in Llandeilo. This was a great opportunity to meet customers face to face, some of whom appreciated discussing purchases and cake ideas through the medium of Welsh."
Describe the type of support (financial / non-financial) they’ve received from Business Wales / Welsh Government
Leah attended the 'Starting and Running your Business – Taking the Plunge' workshop to get a good overview of what it entailed to be self-employed. She was further supported by Business Wales Adviser Darren Thomas, who provided comprehensive start-up support and facilitated the successful launch of Capel Bakes. Darren’s help and assistance focused on business planning, financial forecasts, marketing and legal issues, amongst others.
Leah has also signed up to further Business Wales workshops to gain more understanding and practical skills in areas such as managing her finances, pricing, marketing and market research.
Leah commented: "I have found Business Wales’ advisers very helpful with a wealth of knowledge and experience in different areas. The 'Starting and Running Your Business' workshop was particularly useful in helping to narrow down my business idea and target audience. I have been on a few workshops and due to attend more in the New Year. I am confident that if I have difficulties along the way, the advisers would be more than willing to take the time to help me out. I’m still very new to all this and am hoping they will continue to help me as I continue with my business."
Leah’s top tips for anyone else who wants to start or grow their own business would be:
- start with a short summary of what your business is and what you intend to achieve, this helps with defining your market, the products you can sell and prices, this also helps focus on what your business is about
- go on workshops such as those provided by Business Wales, there is a lot to learn and think about, for example, getting a domain name for your business, in some cases where you may rely on the internet, it is worth looking at this and what is available before deciding on the business name
- it can be expensive setting up even if you feel you haven’t got high overheads, it is worth researching what you actually need