We introduce a local cake maker – Cat’s Whiskers Cake Design. Read on for our interview with Helen and some gorgeous pictures of their wedding cakes!
1. Introduce yourself and your company!
Iâ€™m Helen Finney and I run Catâ€™s Whiskers Cake Design. Weâ€™re based at home in Ramsbottom, just north of Bury.
2. What made you start your company?
I started my company in 2006 when I was on maternity leave with my first son. My mum has made and decorated cakes since I was small and it was helping her make my brotherâ€™s wedding cake that sparked my interest. I took night school classes while I was pregnant and then ran the business part time while I worked as well (I was a Chartered Accountant in my previous life).
In 2009 I was made redundant while on maternity leave with my second son and I took it as an opportunity to change things and to do what I love for a living! The business has been full time for 15 months now and is going from strength to strength.
3. Can you give us a typical â€˜day in the life ofâ€™ â€“ weâ€™d love to know what you do day by day, even the what-might-seem-like-boring bits!
Every day is different! And thatâ€™s part of what I love about what I do. One week it might be all about a wedding cake, then the next week I might be modelling characters for a birthday cake or making sugar flowers and then the following week we might be doing a market so the whole house is full of cupcakes, iced biscuits and miniature hedgehog cakes.
On a standard week I bake on Monday and do prep work on Tuesday. Then Wednesday is icing day â€“ I work with my mum so we spend all day icing the cakes for the week and doing as much as we can. Then Thursday is finishing touches and Friday is usually collections and prep for the following week. But our schedule is very changeable and some weeks itâ€™s icing day everyday!
4. What do you enjoy most or what is your favourite part of your job?
I love how much of a part of someoneâ€™s celebration you become when you make their cake. And the reactions when they see what youâ€™ve made. Itâ€™s so rewardingâ€¦.and no one ever cried over one of my spreadsheets! (At least not in a good way!) I love being a small business too and being able to help people achieve a special part of their celebration.
5. How do you come up with your designs?
I get ideas from all sorts of places really. Pictures, a pattern, a lot of the time designs evolve as I go along! A lot of things are client specified so we work with our customers to get to exactly what they want. This is especially the case with our wedding cake designs. If Iâ€™m working on designs for a wedding fair display quite often ideas materialise as I work. Then it might be that mum and I look at the finished article a couple of times over a few days and then the last final touch will come to one of us!
6. How do you manage to mix your busy schedule with home and family life? Some secrets to your success please!
I had an office job in my last life, with a 45 minute commute each way. Now I work at home, do the school run and look after my pre-schooler. Oh and run a business! I work a lot while the youngest sleeps in the afternoon and Iâ€™m fortunate that my parents help out with childcare too. I try not to work in the early evening once my elder son is home from school and the little one is awake but work again in the evening once theyâ€™re asleep if I need to. I have a very big diary, lots of lists and Iâ€™m a big fan of post-its and coloured pens!!
7. Do you manage to ever switch off the phone or laptop, or always sneakily checking emails and calls 24/7?
Iâ€™m always in touch with the business as I literally live with it every day â€“ there is no door to close on it. And I always have a big to do list! This Christmas though I have closed for a couple of weeks for the first time and have had a rest J
8. What top tip would you give couples that are getting married?
Itâ€™s your wedding, make it about you. Add personal touches and little quirky details that define it as your wedding. Look for smaller bespoke suppliers too â€“ we all care a great deal about the products we produce and take great pride and pleasure in a job well done.
9. If youâ€™re already married, what one thing do you wish youâ€™d done differently?
Weâ€™ve just celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. We had a fabulous day. I donâ€™t think thereâ€™s anything I would have done differently. The wedding was very â€˜usâ€™.
10. What has been your most unusual request and did you manage to fulfil it?
I had one couple who were have a small wedding and then a big party two weeks later. They wanted a three tier wedding cake for both celebrations as the photographer was at the wedding but not the party but didnâ€™t need that amount of cake. So we made the top 2 tiers fruit cake and the bottom one sponge â€“ they cut the bottom tier at the wedding and then brought the top two tiers back to me. I baked and iced another bottom tier and reassembled the three tier cake for them for the party!
11. How long do you usually take from start to finish with a couple? Please explain the process that you run through with clients so our readers can schedule it all inâ€¦
Iâ€™ll spend as long as it takes to achieve a design that everyone is happy with. Sometimes it might be a few emails outlining an initial design and then people come round and we drink tea and talk about cake! (Usually about an hour depending on how firm an idea people have of what they want)Â Generally people have an idea of what theyâ€™d like â€“ they might have seen something on our website or have a specific look that they want to achieve. It helps if a couple brings colour samples and pictures of anything thatâ€™s caught their eye â€“ even a wallpaper pattern or something! Recently a lot of customers have booked us to make our miniatures for their wedding. I have a lot of sample miniatures that go to wedding fairs with me so I get all those out and the couple can look at them in detail to help decide which combination they want. I also have a large collection of ribbons and beads that people can look through so we make a colour decision. Once the design is agreed I send an email summary of whatâ€™s been decided along with photos of ribbons, beads and other details that have been chosen.
12.Â When do you recommend placing an order, please tell us how much notice do you need and how far should couples order in advance of the wedding?
For a fruit cake we need a minimum of three months notice, although we have bookings through to 2012 now so to ensure you get your date itâ€™s best to book as soon as youâ€™ve decided that youâ€™d like us to make your cake. You donâ€™t have to finalise your design at the time of booking but we do take a deposit to confirm the date.
If you’re a wedding supplier and would like to be featured in our Supplier Spotlight, please get in touch!