In The Spotlight - Tilly’s Treats
Welcome to In The Spotlight
Do you have an amazing business to showcase, or an incredible story to tell?
This month emmaheaven.com is shining the spotlight on...
I’d like to introduce you to our new columnist Amy Carrieri - owner of Tilly’s Treats and baker extraordinaire.
As many of you will know by now, I have a teensy weensy ‘problem’ with cake, and if left to my own devices, I would probably eat it morning, noon and night. So it seemed only fitting that the magazine have its very own cake baking feature.
Step forward the fabulous Amy:
“My baking story started in 2011 when family circumstances meant I had to give up my job to look after my son. After being used to having colleagues around, it was a challenge to be at home all day, which made me feel quite isolated. Turning my hand to baking really helped with how I was feeling. Being in the kitchen felt like my sanctuary and I could lose myself in my baking.
I developed a love for baking and started making bakes for family and friends, experimenting with different flavours. I had lots of great feedback and my partner suggested that maybe I should start selling it.
My first thoughts were that there was no way I could accept money for my bakes, plus I didn’t have any business experience - so how on earth was I going to start my own business?! After that brief moment of self-doubt, I thought, why not? There was nothing to lose, so I decided to go for it.
Little did I know what lay ahead of me!
My daughter Tilly loves my bakes, which is where so much of my inspiration comes from, so it seemed fitting that that should be the name of my baking business. Even now she will ask “have you made Tilly’s treats for me?” Or if we are out and she spots some cupcakes - “are those Tilly’s treats?”
I also wanted to show my children that if something difficult or challenging happens in your life, that you can always turn it around into a positive and make something of yourself.
Within a few short months, everything swiftly took off. It was a complete shock but our popularity went through the roof! Even though I was motivated to build the business to ensure my son would have a job when he left school, and be part of a family business, we quickly became a victim of our own success, and it became quite overwhelming.
We moved the business into a small shop, but within three months we had to move premises as we had completely outgrown it, and moved to larger premises, but still we couldn’t keep up with demand. We would sell out within an hour or two of opening.
I found that I had little to no time with my family, and my life had become an endless round of baking, decorating, selling, baking, decorating, selling; and soon other family members were helping out too, to help keep up with demand.
I felt uneasy about employing additional staff at such an early stage, as any money we did make was ploughed back into the business. There was also finding and taking time out to teach and train that person - time which I didn’t have spare. And then there was the trust element. What if I taught them all my baking secrets and they used that knowledge to set up on their own? Quite a dilemma.
My partner gave up his job to support the business, as he could see its potential. However, the demand was reaching crazy levels and we could not keep up with that and also have important family time.
I had to make the painful and difficult decision to close the business, not because it was failing, but because it was taking its toll on my wellbeing, and our family life was starting to suffer. And if I am being totally honest, I’d fallen out of love with baking. Baking had now become something I *had* to do and not something I *wanted* to do. I’d vowed that if that happened then it would be time to call it a day.
I took some much needed time out for myself and my family. My intention was to stop baking completely, but it’s just something that is part of me and baking had helped me through some tough times.
I started to bake for me again - for fun and pleasure - as I love the creative side of baking and it channels all my creative energy. That is the direction I now want to go in.
A lot of people have said I inspired them to bake. So that, coupled with the fact I love to create, has led me to running my own baking blog where I share my creations and how to make them yourself.
My recipes are getting me great feedback and it is amazing to hear about people making them in the kitchen with their children. That gives me so much pleasure. So that’s what I want to do - inspire people to bake with their families, to have fun, get creative and to try different things.
The more you try, the better you become. I remember the first batch of cupcakes I gave my partner to take into work for his pals to try. The feedback was - “tastes amazing but you need to work on your presentation!” And being the perfectionist that I am, I persevered until they were a work of art.
Looking back now, I’m not sad we closed the business as baking is a skill that I will always have. It just wasn’t the right time for us. And when one door closes, another always opens.
Had I not had the shop then Emma wouldn’t have heard about me, tried my cakes and loved them enough to feature them in the magazine which ultimately lead to me having my own baking programme on the magazine.
I now get to showcase my skills and my passion for baking, while inspiring others, showing them that baking is fun and creative, and that there is no limit to your imagination where cakes and desserts are concerned.
There is always another cake idea to dream up, another flavour combination to discover and you never, ever run out of decorating ideas.
I cannot wait to start sharing them with you all soon.”
And you don’t have too long to wait my fellow cake addicts as Amy’s baking programme starts in January 2019.
In the meantime, before we launch ‘Cake-A-Holic’ - feeding the world’s cake addiction, one bake at a time - you can follow Amy on her blog www.tillystreats.blog, Facebook www.facebook.com/TillysTreatsSwansea and Instagram www.instagram.com/tillys.treats to get your foodie fix!
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