Monday, 17 October 2011

A week of ups and Sussex downs...

This last week we really seem to have been on a rollercoaster with the Brighton Bakery. 

At the start of the week I made a footballer birthday cake for our friends David and Denis that they both really loved and said it looked and tasted amazing (thanks guys). 

While I was in the middle of making their cake, the phone rang and I took our very first wedding cake order.  I'm so excited to make it and really proud we've reached this milestone, especially considering the website's only been up for 6 weeks!

On Thursday we got an email from Brighton Council to say that we've been allocated an allotment at the top of Whitehawk Hill.  There's a great community atmosphere there and a fantastic view over the Marina.  One day we'll be able to offer cakes with fillings made from our very own fruit trees :o)  Unfortunately the allotment is currently an undulating patch of brambles, weeds and rubbish... but Melissa and I aren't afraid of hard work and this allotment is going to be a huge part of the lifestyle that we dreamed of when we decided to move down to Brighton.

Yesterday we took part in the first ever Indulge Sussex Sunday in Hove.  We spent almost two full days preparing and baking our hearts out and were looking forward to finishing the week off on a high with a successful stall day. 

We set up our stall at the Hove Town Hall, and in pride of place was a Christmas showcake I made with carol singing penguins:

We had high hopes that we could get some pre-orders for our luxury Christmas Cakes as well as selling plenty of our regular sweet treats and cake slices.  We had some of our regular favourites plus new additions of Autumn Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes (completely yummy and totally vegan), Banana and Butterscotch Muffins (a great flavour combo) and a Seriously Good Chocolate Orange Cake (which definitely lives up to its name).  The weather seemed perfect for the indoor event - bright and sunny to get people out but with a cold wind to drive people indoors.  As the only cake stall and a potential for 2400 visitors surely this one was a sure thing?

The event started slowly at 11am but that's not unusual.  We'd learnt from experience that prime cake time is 3pm-5pm so we weren't too worried as it was sure to pick up later. 

At about 1.30pm at was still kinda quiet, but we figured people were having Sunday lunch and were probably going to come afterwards, plus it still wasn't quite cake o'clock.

It reached about 2.30pm there just still weren't many people coming through the doors. 2400 people?  We reckoned the total was more like 240.  The chances weren't looking that good for us to make much money.

At 3.30pm we still had an hour and a half to go when we realised that a couple of stalls behind us had already packed up and gone.  Ten minutes later the stall beside us (the excellent Lurgashall Winery) was also packing up.  The event organisers decided to wind up an hour early, right in the middle of caking hour.

Oh dear. Well it had to happen sometime - Sunday was our first market stall flop.  Two days of both Melissa and me working solidly (plus me preparing all the day before that too) and just taking into account our stall fee, ingredients and parking we came out with a loss of £7.64.  And we can't exactly sue ourselves for not earning the minimum wage...

But at least we did sell something (some stalls didn't even sell a single thing), we got our name out there and the people that did buy our cakes really seemed to enjoy them.  We've got a couple of leads for Christmas cakes and birthday cakes too so it's not all bad.  If you see it as a marketing exercise, £7.64 isn't a big price to pay. 

Plus we were home and unpacked by 4.35pm, so we walked up to our new allotment site and then considered our plan of action over a well earned pint looking out onto the sea as the sun went down.  We might not make much money, but I think Melissa and I are living the dream.


CraftyBird said...

What a great post Emily- very inspiring and honest. Perhaps you could make some allotment cakes to celebrate:


Inside a British Mum's Kitchen said...

Well congratulations for living your dream - I think it's wonderful and wish you the very best and lots of cash at the next fair!! (although I live in the US now I grew up about 5 miles away from Lurgershall!!)
Mary x

BrightonBaker said...

Thanks for your lovely comments!

Those garden party cupcakes look soooo cute - I'm definitely up for making them once Melissa and I munch our way through the mountain of leftover cake for the weekend :o)

Mary - you'll be pleased to know that I supported your old neighbours by buying a fine bottle of Lurgashall Honey Mead. Apparently the honey stops you from getting a hangover - I must test that theory...

Mark G said...

Melissa and I aren't afraid of hard work

Stills know better....!

all the best