You know i love to partner with other small local businesses... Well, Here's what I've been cooking up over the festive break!
Sweetly Special Breakfasts is a small Bristol business, run by a lovely lady called Lilly. She delivers delicious breakfasts to people all over the city, focussing heavily on sweet treats to start special days off with a good feeding. That's where I come in!
Lilly firmly believes (and I agree!) that special days like Mothering Sunday or birthdays should be memorable from start to finish. Hampers from Sweetly start the day off perfectly, and keep you going throughout the day, enough goodies for lunch, elevenses, afternoon tea, supper... The delivery includes fresh flowers, balloons, tea and coffee, a personal card and of course, cakes. And if you're vegan, your home baked cake comes from me at 280 Bakes! If you're ordering for a child, the package also includes a party bag.
The main product I am helping Lilly (see her sunny face below) with is the Perfect Gift Breakfast - see above to the left - and is now available!
Check out Sweetly on Facebook and find them also on Instagram. Marballoons, a balloon artist in Bristol, also work with Sweetly, so it's a real team effort!
Support local business and why not shop with Sweetly next time it's a special day in your household - it'll be like sending a hug to your favourite person!
Fab Fudge are probably my favourite Bristol business of mine, and not just because they gave me their Christmas fudge to review!
Imaginative. Delicious. Dairy-free.
Those are the three words I would use to describe what comes out of the kitchens of Fab Fudge. You can find out more about Fab Fudge on a blog I wrote back in 2017, but what you need to know is right here: Their (plastic-free!) fudge is UNBEATABLE.
The company's founder, Jill, started her business in 2016, two months or so behind me, and we met at a local networking event. Since then, we've been working together every so often to help each other out, and keeping each other in sweet treats!
Jill and her team have released their Christmas selection for 2020, and I was lucky enough to taste the first batches off the shelf.
At the time of writing, Gingerbread fudge wasn't available on Fab Fudge's online store, but it's coming - and you'll be glad it did! I am a late convert to ginger flavoured things, but I'm really into it now. My firey gingerbread is YUMMY! So when Jill said she had a ginger delight up her sleeve, I jumped on it! Smooth, melt-in-the-mouth, and (like all Fab Fudge) 100% vegan. The ginger kick is subtle, but the creamy taste really won me over.
Christmas cake fudge
Christmas cake may be my favourite cake, and the fudge version didn't disappoint. I love the triple layer fudge design - new for 2020. Rich, fully-festive, and it looks just like a mini slice with actual marzipan and icing! Christmas Cake fudge is my new favourite (sorry apricot fudge!).
If you're looking for the perfect gift, I can only say, GO FAB FUDGE!! Even Theo Paphitis is a fan - you simple have to try something new with Fab Fudge's dairy-free fudge.
Thanks Jill, and I hope it's not too early to wish you and yours a very merry and profitable Christmas.
My customers are full of questions, love 'em! Here are some of the recent queries I've had, and the (helpful) answers below...
1. Is a cupcake the same as a muffin?
Nope. A cupcake has much higher butter and sugar content and they have fancy icing on the top. Muffins are often more appropriate for breakfast, often being similar to bread, and cupcakes are better for dessert.
2. How do I pay for a 280 Bakes cake?
Paypal is preferred (to email@example.com) or cash, as a second preference. This is mainly to make it simple to take payment immediately when a customer books a delivery in, but it also limits physical contact during these Covid-19 days.
3. What's the difference between a Chocolate cake and a brownie?
The main difference between brownies and chocolate cake is that brownies have more chocolate content and are gooey. Baking powder and soda are not used in brownies and they often have more sugar than a cake would. Both are delicious, though!
4. Why are bundt cakes so much more expensive?
Simply because there's almost four times the amount of mixture that goes into the cake compared to a traditional homebake, and the size means they take so much more time to bake. Perfect for a party, a real centrepiece!
5. What do you use instead of egg in a vegan cake?
There are many different things recipes call for in egg-free cakes. For example, many of my cakes contain flaxseed, banana, apple sauce or yoghurt instead. You can also do a mixture of vinegar and baking soda, but I prefer to use fruit based or seed products.
I hope this was useful, please let me know if you have any questions I can answer for you!
I'm an admirer of beautiful front doors in Bristol, making doorstep deliveries so much fun!
So while I tell you why changes to my delivery policy have been introduced, take a look at some of my favourite local front doors (Thanks to a little help from my fave peeps on Instagram).
If you can prove one of these doors is yours, you can have a Victoria Sponge free!
When 280 Bakes first started in 2016, it was a porch sale enterprise only, selling all manner of baked goods.
Within three or four weeks, it became a delivery service to all of Bristol as demand for cupcakes, birthday cakes and traditional homebakes got really high. From that first Autumn I employed a team of home bakers to help support my business, which, at its peak, had six bakers on board.
Then, in March 2019, the business closed temporarily when I had a baby.
âNow 280 Bakes is back, deliveries have changed slightly...
(LOVE this bumble bee door knocker, I neeeeed!)
So, first off, I am now limiting deliveries to doors in the BS9, BS10 and BS11 postcodes. This is mainly because I bloomin' hated driving into central Bristol and further east to deliver in the past - it was once a two hour round trip to get to Kingswood and back! Traffic has been historically abysmal... Let's see what post-lockdown looks like in (hopefully) a few months, but I'd be reluctant to take on a wider area at the moment.
I also have limited the patch I deliver to because I need and want to be home more. My baby is a total delight, and I want to spend time with her. I also have extra baby-related responsibilities - like the nursery drop offs - so I can't be too far away some days/times. That's fair, I think!
Lastly, CakeOD is no longer a 'thing' for 280 Bakes. I sold the trademark name for my same day service in the Spring last year and don't, as a rule, do same-day deliveries any more.
Saying that, if you're desperate and in my delivery zone, do try me - I may have a quiet day and a long baby nap to bake through! Please note, this is generally more possible for traditional homebakes than birthday cakes and cupcakes, but never say never!
So that's the reason why I've limited delivery of my delicious cakes to around a four mile radius. The Bristol Channel doesn't accept deliveries, obviously, but I cover Southmead, Westbury-on-Trym, Sea Mills, Lawrence Weston, Avonmouth, Henbury, Brentry...
And of course, the deliveries are socially distanced. I leave the cake on the doorstep and ring the bell, standing back while the customer collects their treat.
Oh, go on then, one more wonderful door!
Sadly, but for good reason, We're closing our doors today. Our Owner Louise shares her favourite memories from the last three years.
280 Bakes began as a porch sale for neighbours, and quickly developed into a three town delivery service in the south-west of England. The team quickly grew, and we developed a specialism in vegan cakes. We've helped make birthdays special, celebrated weddings, and made numerous office workers happy with special deliveries. Here's some of my favourite photo memories - enjoy!
First, some of our favourite cakes... This is a cake I myself made for Liz's 60th birthday (fruit cake), a shark cake by our Heidi, and a pistachio and marzipan cake we made for one Easter Sunday. So delicious!
And it's not just us who think our cakes are great - it's always wonderful seeing a new review come in on Facebook. Everyone likes to hear they're doing a great job, and it's especially nice when we have a team effort behind it.
We've become known for cakes that are a little different, catering for customers with special dietary requirements like gluten free, vegan, sugar free and dairy free. I'm especially proud of this service, helping those people out who think they can't enjoy a good cake.
Something else I'm especially proud of is our same day cake delivery service, CakeOD. I got it registered as a trademark, and it's been a popular aspect to our baking business. We've saved many a forgotten event and person with a special delivery!
A few more of my favourite cakes... Which is your favourite? This is Catie's pony themed cake for a little girl in Stroud, some of my cupcakes, and a Rudolph Christmas cake I made in the early days.
Do you remember, back in 2017 when we won a Bristol Fairtrade Award? It was for our Fairtrade banana cake - what an achievement! We've done a lot of work with external organisations and charities, from Mind to Macmillan, to the local charity Free Cake For Kids. Hope we've made a difference to someone outside of our delivery area, somewhere...
Our cakes have brought smiles to so many people's faces - it's going to be something I'll miss, delivering a surprise cake to someone. Often it's been for birthdays, but also there's some lovely people out there who know a friend of theirs needs a little cheering up and they order their favourite cake.
Here's some more favourite cakes we've produced over the years... This is a unicorn cake from our Heidi, Catie's toffee cake, and a cake ex-baker Lorna made to celebrate someone's milestone Park Run. Cakes aren't just for birthdays!
We had a lot of fun running 280 Bakes. Check out the two photos below from Lawrence Weston carnival in 2016, and one shot from our first vegan baking workshop.
Our workshops were a fun part of running the business. We did two vegan baking workshops in Bristol helping people to learn new recipes without dairy or eggs. They received a rating of 9/10 by participants, and it really helped spread the word about our vegan cake range.
So that's it! It just needs to be said thank you to all our bakers, present and past, for all your fab work, and thank you to all our customers. I couldn't have had this adventure without you!
All the best,
On January 1st 2018 we began a memory jar to help us remember all the fab things we did and aCcomplished during the year.
Happy new year!
The Christmas decorations came down today at 280 bakes HQ, so it was the perfect time to open our Memory Jar from 2018. Let's see what's recorded inside...
What's your favourite memory from 2018? Let us know in the comments below...
Our 2019 Memory Jar has already begun - let's see what the new year brings!
Owner, 280 Bakes
Our business is for sale and our louise is here to explain why.
It's official: 280 Bakes is for sale!
It's been a fantastic three years or so, but it is time for me to move on. 280 Bakes was set up in 2016 when I was suddenly out of work. My passion for home baked cakes and my interest in owning my own business combined and it's been a fantastic ride. However, it's time to move on.
So what's changed?
A year or so ago I moved into running the business solely, instead of dipping into the baking as one of the team. I have really enjoyed this, finding it challenging, motivating and interesting, but my excitement has waned in the past few months. I've worked my 'buns' off and gained so much from it, but this chapter needs to close. It wasn't an easy decision to make, but it's the right one. Not least because my husband and I are expecting our first baby in the summer!
How do you find out more about the business sale?
If you are interested in finding out more about buying 280 Bakes, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The business has been valued at £2,000, but we are open to offers. What is important to us is that the new owner has
- a passion for home baking
- a business mind
- the drive to run their own business
The new owner doesn't necessarily need to live in Stroud, Bristol or Portishead (our delivery areas) but it would help with a couple of things. We are a 'stock-light' company with few assets to sell. It's basically a sale of a professional baking network with all that comes with the company (social media, website, contacts etc). We'll send you the enquiry pack and we can go from there.
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped 280 Bakes grow and supported me personally in this business journey. There are way too many to name, but from the early days acorn business guidance to the large corporate customers, you've made the experience one I will treasure and always remember.
And my bakers - you deserve a special mention. I recruited our first ever home baker in September 2016 and with seven bakers (including occasionally me) now, you guys have been critical to the business ever since. You creativity and enthusiasm still impresses me. I hope you'll continue to enjoy your baking within 280 Bakes or elsewhere.
Yours, in cake,
Owner of 280 Bakes
Bristol cake lovers can Relax. We now have another pair of hands to cope with the demand in your area!
We're really pleased to announce that Debbie has joined us this month. Debbie is from the Emersons Green side of town, not so far from 280 Bakes HQ, but she was our first remotely recruited baker, posting us samples in the mail.
And then there were six! This is the largest our team has ever been, exciting times!
The Team @ 280 Bakes
Today our Louise is sharing news of an exciting challenge she set 280 Bakes this month. Let's see how we got on!
This month I set a sales target.
Now, in the past I’ve been sceptical about using targets in personal and business life, mostly to avoid stressing myself out trying to hit, and possibly failing to hit, said target, and not really seeing myself as a salesperson. It’s good to dream big, but was there much point in pushing so hard when I already work so much to gain customer leads? And is there too much at stake for my personal confidence and wellbeing in working so hard and potentially failing?
Encouraged by a business coach I’m seeing, I thought it couldn’t hurt to try to hit a sales target just once and see how it went…
So, one month ago, I set myself a target of generating 50% more cake orders than in the four weeks previous. Maybe that sounds a bit ‘finger in the air’, but the previous four weeks (May 13th – June 14th) was a good month for us in terms of order generation, and 50% extra would push our orders to 28 orders in 28 days. It had a nice sound to it, and I liked that.
What did I do to help generate extra orders this month?
Well, most of our orders come from Facebook – hail Facebook! However, our email newsletter list is growing, as is our Twitter and Instagram following, so these were all useful to help show potential customers the delicious cakes we are baking, and in turn, encourage new and existing customers to order our products. Added to this, we had Father’s Day orders to promote and we got a fair bit of attention online from replicating the lemon and elderflower recipe from the royal wedding. Tying in with national events sure can help!
Interestingly, a large portion of our orders during this period were made by phone this month. Normally the contact comes in via email or Facebook in the main, so I wonder if the new attitude to marketing influenced this…
What was the result?
Today is the final day of the challenge.
Yesterday we hit the target of 28 of cake orders in 28 days – with a day spare!
Needless to say, I am over the moon. I may even enjoy a slice of cake tonight to celebrate. And all this happened in a month featuring a week of torturous hayfever, and three weekends away. Who knows what I could have achieved without a social life! (Kidding)
Celebrations aside, well done us, what did this mean for 280 Bakes?
All of this will hopefully lead to more business growth, more baking, and more happy customers!
Has having a target helped?
Undoubtedly, yes. As expected, pressure built a little on myself to work harder, smarter, and to be more creative with thinking of things which people would like to see pop up in their busy lives. However, achieving that goal of 28 orders in 28 days – and a day ahead of our deadline – has given me more confidence and a real sense of achievement.
Honestly, if we’d been a few orders off hitting the mark, it still would have been an amazing achievement to increase orders by almost 50%. Setting a goal, I have realised, is not only about achieving specified things; it’s also about having a way to measure how successful your tactics are and how effective your communications planning is. Even if you ignore the detail in the numbers, knowing there’s been an X amount of extra custom over a defined period of time due to some hard work is a real boost.
I may even set another target for later in the year.
Sod it. Let’s nail that down. I am going to try to hit 28 orders in 28 days again during the month of September.
You think I’m putting it off? No apologies there. July is going to be a bit crazy in my personal life so I may need some space, and August is generally a slower month in the business. The kids are off, people are on holiday, and I figure (totally anecdotally!) that some parents take the time to bake with their kids. Plus, September is statistically the month with the highest number of birthdays – go figure – so birthday cakes may be in high demand.
Our bakers didn’t attend any local events this month, but potentially, when I run this challenge again, this could boost sales further when people try our cakes at a festival or market and decide to order more in the days or weeks.
Of course, now, I realise I am in fact a bit of a salesperson and it’s always been that way. It’s essential the good of the company. I’m not pushy, but I’m driven, I know our target market and I want to make my company a success. If that makes me a salesperson, so be it!
I want to say some ‘thanks’ before I sign off. Thank you, of course, to my bakers – you’re fab! Hard-working, creative and passionate, couldn’t have developed 280 Bakes to this level without you. Secondly, thank you to my husband for his patience / ability to ignore me and get on with it when I am working on the laptop or elbow-deep in flour. Lastly, thanks to Robin, who made me try this whole target thing out – inspired!
Do any of you have small businesses? Do you ever set goals like this? I’d love to hear about your experiences – just comment in the box below.
Enjoy your weekend,
Owner, 280 Bakes
Welcome to the 280 Bakes blog! Most posts are by myself, Louise, but if you fancy guest blogging, give me a shout!