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Wildflower Kitchen

Wildflower Kitchen

Eco-friendly café using ethically sourced produce launches in Cardiff, creating 7 new jobs.

With over 18 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, Celyn Baker decided to dive into self-employment and set up her own business serving fresh, homemade bakes and snacks. Having received support from the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service with her first coffee shop venture, she turned to her adviser for further advice on launching a brand-new café in Cardiff.

  • support with first coffee shop business
  • start-up advice on second venture, which started trading in October 2019
  • secured a £10,000 loan from the Development Bank of Wales
  • created 7 part-time and full-time jobs

Introduction to business

Set up by Celyn Baker in Roath, Cardiff, Wildflower Kitchen is a new sustainable and ec-friendly coffee shop, serving a variety of fresh meals, homemade bakes and drinks, using ethically sourced ingredients.

Wildflower Kitchen utilises novel recipes with emphasis on the quality of the produce, providing a cosy environment where visitors can enjoy art displays, purchase plants and hire space for private events and functions.

Why did you decide to start your own business?

I spent the majority of my 20s living in North Cornwall as I was lured in by the easy-going lifestyle, the breath-taking Cornish coastline, evenings round campfires and small village country living. I’ve always worked in the Catering and Hospitality industry and the standard of the cafés and restaurants in this part of the country is truly amazing: the homemade ethos isn’t forced, they genuinely support the local community and farmers. Organic isn’t a ‘brand’, it’s the norm.

The love/hate relationship I had with Cornwall forced me to move back to South Wales in 2014, after another winter of low income due to the seasonal decrease in employment. As much as I absolutely loved my previous winters in Polzeath, I was nearing the end of my 20s and was fed up of living each winter on the breadline. I moved back to South Wales with the intention of saving for a business of my own.

I continued to work within the hospitality industry and was surprised that there are so many cafés that buy in factory-made cakes. Whilst working full time, I set up a small baking business and delivered real, homemade cakes to a few cafés around the Vale of Glamorgan. After 18 months of being back in Wales, I heard about a proposed café for Insole Court. I knew this would be a fantastic opportunity to put all my experience in Catering to action, and after several interviews, I won the 3-year tenancy.

Business Wales were an amazing help in this first venture. I received a £20,000 loan to accompany my own savings, which enabled me to fully go for it with the Potting Shed Café where we had an amazingly successful 3 years. At the end of my tenancy, Insole Court decided to run the café in house, giving me another great opportunity to go bigger and better with my next premises.

I opened the Wildflower Kitchen on 28 October 2019. I love being self-employed, I love the creativity it gives. I have been inspired by working in some of the nicest places in Cornwall and didn’t feel that the overall standard in South Wales was that great (don’t get me wrong, there are lots of amazing cafés but not quite enough in my opinion!). I really struggled to find somewhere I ‘wanted’ to work, so decided if I couldn’t find it, I would create it!

What challenges did you face?

The main challenges I’ve faced, as all new businesses do, have been finance and budgeting. Money is a real issue as income and outgoings are always on a knife edge. I have an Excel spreadsheet and keep everything up to date – this is something I’ve learnt over time and wish I’d done it right from the beginning. Having total control of the finances is worth its weight in gold for stress levels – even if the finances are low!

Working alongside a board of trustees at Insole Court came with its own challenges, especially as there were so many viewpoints and opinions to consider whilst trying to run a profitable business. It again comes back to finances and one of the most valuable things I’ve learnt is to budget everything! Know to the penny how much you need to make a job profitable! If it’s not, it shouldn’t happen, even though it may seem to the untrained eye that it’s worth it.

Business Wales support

Having already benefitted from support with her first coffee shop, Celyn turned to Business Wales when problems with the lease of its premises made her look for a new venture. Having identified premises at the heart of a bustling Cardiff area, she received advice from Relationship Manager Jayesh Parmar on the lease terms, sourcing finance, recruitment, marketing and the future growth strategy for the business.

Wildflower Kitchen were also able to secure a £10,000 loan from the Development Bank of Wales, thanks to the advice provided by Jayesh and the Bank’s Investment Executive Jessica White.

Outcomes

  • support with first coffee shop business
  • start-up advice on second venture, which started trading in October 2019
  • secured a £10,000 loan from the Development Bank of Wales
  • created 7 part-time and full-time jobs

Jayesh has been the most amazing support; his consistent good advice and constructive criticism has really helped me gain confidence and see my own potential. He genuinely believes in my ethos and that is so reassuring. It’s been amazing having the support from Business Wales. Jay has shared the journey with me and having his help has really benefited the business.

Future plans and ambitions

My ambition for the business is to grow its reputation to become a destination on Whitchurch Road. I want my café to be known for its good food, great cakes and lovely atmosphere. We have a dedicated room which can be hired for meetings, small groups and clubs, all of which can be accompanied with catering and refreshments.

Over the winter we will work on our garden space, making it safe, secure and pretty. I also intend to have a premises licence and in spring 2020 will be opening in the evenings from Thursday to Saturday, hosting different events each week, including open mic, acoustic nights, storytelling, art performance, cocktails, etc.

At the moment we are closed every Sunday, but I intend to have regular bookings for large parties who wish to hire the whole venue, possibly baby showers, Christenings and various other functions. There’s a lot of potential for this type of business, different avenues to try and expand.

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.

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