I get asked this a lot and it’s a really hard question to answer. There are lots of reasons that led me to sell postal cakes. I’ve never been one of those people that always knew what they wanted to do…I’ve always been very jealous of people like that! Making decisions is something I find extremely difficult, so when I was considering what I wanted to do in life, I really had no idea!
After school, I went on to Leeds university and did a degree in product design. Although I did well in my degree (with a lot of work!), I didn’t feel like I was good enough to pursue a career in product design and I didn’t think I wanted to either. I always wonder if I made a mistake in choosing a product design degree, but I can’t imagine my uni experience without the amazing people I met!
Throughout uni, I desperately wanted to do a ‘year in industry’ but I really struggled to find a creative role. Very last minute, I secured a year working in procurement (in the co-manufacturing and co-packing team) at what was United Biscuits (now Pladis, aka McVities, Jacobs, Carrs etc). I had applied for probably 50-plus jobs by this point so had nearly given up. It wasn’t exactly what I had been looking for but I was SO excited! It started as a really difficult year, I didn’t really know what procurement meant and had no idea that ‘co-packing’ even existed! Safe to say, I learnt a lot!
By the end of the year, I’d made every spreadsheet possible, streamlined as many processes as I could and learnt a huge amount about how biscuits were made, but mainly how they were packed…thrilling I know! I do love a good factory tour so that part of the job was great! I used to bake a lot at home but not much since I started uni – it’s expensive to do on a student budget but I think being surrounded by biscuits and cakes all day kickstarted that urge to bake again! I used to bring cakes in most weeks which I think everyone loved and hated me for at the same time but I liked making cakes and I couldn’t eat them all myself!
When I left, I genuinely felt I’d improved and made a difference in that tiny part of the business and that felt good. Previously I’d only ever worked in hospitality, so it was also good just to spend time in an office environment. I remember thinking I didn’t want to go back to uni, I enjoyed working and if I could have stayed I would!
My favourite elements of my degree were packaging and website design so when I started to look at graduate jobs, this was the area I was focussing on. More so the packaging side as I had learnt a lot about the practical side of packing products at United Biscuits and I never felt confident enough to go into website design. Somehow right at the beginning of my final year I landed a graduate job. It was a huge weight off my shoulders; I just had to concentrate on my final year and not worry about what came next, I was sorted! And it wasn’t any old graduate job, it was the ‘Unilver future leaders programme’. On our course, Unilever was thought of as one of the best schemes you could get on, so I was in shock to even get accepted. They had a specific r&d packaging graduate programme which is quite a niche and possible why I managed to get the role so quickly! My last year of uni was probably my favourite, I got stuck into my course a lot more, pulled way too many all-nighters in the studio and for some reason also decided that was the perfect time to start set design at uni too!
But when I started what I thought was my perfect job, the reality set in pretty quickly. I didn’t enjoy anything about it! I felt completely lost, I was given no direction, and I was desperately trying to find/create a role for myself in a business I knew nothing about. My role was new so there were no ongoing projects that I could jump into and no handover. I didn’t feel like I particularly gelled with my manager either and think her expectations of me were completely unclear. I still look back and don’t really understand what I was supposed to be doing for those 6 months. After many tears, long chats and exit interviews, I said goodbye to Unilever without anything else lined up and feeling a bit lost! I kept having thoughts of starting some sort of cake business but didn’t really know what and didn’t think it would really be viable.
I was also keen to move back home; I had moved to Liverpool to work with Unilever, but my family and boyfriend were in Norfolk and eventually, that’s where I wanted to be. I started applying for jobs and struggled. I had a number of interviews but didn’t get anywhere and I just kept thinking I wanted to try and do something myself, so I did. One of the most frustrating parts of working in big business was how many layers of approval things had to go through and I felt like so much time was wasted so I thought this was a great option – if I wanted to do something I could just get on with it!
I think everyone thought I was crazy to quit a well-paid graduate job to start making cakes and at the time I was quite embarrassed to tell people. I started going to markets and events and making wedding cakes but I quickly realised my worries about that not being viable long term. It was a lot of unsociable hours, it was physically demanding and it was stressful! You could pay £300 for a pitch at a show and not even make your pitch money back, never mind paying for the ingredients or your time and equipment! On the other hand, you could take £1000 at a show that cost you £20. It was so hit-and-miss. I also found the brownies sold better than sponges so evolved my offering with customer feedback.
I really liked the idea of developing into a postal bakery. I’ve always enjoyed baking gifts for friends and family and I felt that was something I could expand to offer to other people. Most of my friends lived scattered across the country and it was always fun to surprise them with goodies in the post.
It wasn’t as common then but I knew that even though there’s always space for physical businesses, the world was going more and more online. And I could carry on doing markets to bring in a bit of money whilst I grew the online business!
I made myself a logo, website and branding to the best of my ability – looking back my first round of packaging and website was terrible but it has evolved a lot over the years…for the better! I was shocked at how much-branded packaging cost so when for quite basic logo stickers and stamps. Looking back, I didn’t make the most of what you can do with stamps and stickers – you can get a brilliant finished product if you’re a bit more creative but I’ve learnt that now!
…and it’s been evolving ever since then! My postal brownie journey has had its ups and downs and we’re still evolving every day. I’m lucky now to have a team that helps with those up and downs! We send brownies by post across the whole of the UK, baking hundreds of fresh brownies and treats daily and learning along the way.
I’d love you to take a look at our online brownie shop and I hope there’s something that takes your fancy!
Photo Brownie Test£9.99
Blue Monday Sharing Cookie!£5.99
January Specials!£16.49 – £27.49
18/36-piece January Specials Bites Box£17.99 – £30.49
Veganuary Selection!£18.49 – £29.49
Veganuary Combo Box 2!Product on sale
Veganuary Brownie Tray!£17.99
Veganuary Combo Box 3!Product on sale
18/36-piece Veganuary Specials Bites Box£19.99 – £32.99
Or take a look at some of our best sellers…