Plymouth teenager raises passion for baking to professional levels
A Plymouth teenager has fanned the flames of her love for baking and started her own company.
Savannah Bickell, 18, has created the company Kookie Mama's, which sells custom-made celebration cakes and cupcakes.
“I started it together with my mother, but I have sort of pushed her into the background and now I am the face of the company,” she grins.
For a while the two have been baking their goods at home in their kitchen, but business has been moving at a pace that have made them think that it is time to expand Kookie Mama's.
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“I usually produce about two custom cakes a month and have plenty of capacity for more orders. I would be able to produce two a week. I would really like to have a go at doing a small wedding cake soon and I am also hoping to start a pop-up shop in the city centre in 2013 to really market my cupcakes,” Savannah Bickell said.
She began baking cakes for family and friends in her teen years and since then word spread of her abilities. The idea to turn the hobby into a company was a natural next step.
“My mother fell ill and had to leave work for quite a long time. During this time she baked a lot - I think this is what kept her happy and I think she has been my inspiration. I have really never thought about the business side of things as something to be afraid of. Nervous, yes, but not afraid.” she said.
“Of course, when you are making a cake you get nervous and think 'will they like it?' On the other hand, I love the look on people's faces when they see the cakes I have made. It is one of the best things about baking.”
In September of 2011, Savannah Bickell decided to attend a bakery course in Leeds. Every weekend, she would return to Plymouth and bake cakes for customers.
“It was difficult living away from home, but the experience and the skills I got from it were well worth it. After trying to find a job over the summer without success, I completed an 8 week course with Outset Plymouth which then inspired me to join the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy at Plymouth City College and follow my dream of opening my own business,” she said.
The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy offers BTEC courses in enterprise and entrepreneurship. Savannah Bicknell said that the course she had attended had helped her learn more about the actual nuts ond bolts of running a company.
“The move was definitely right for me. Part of being an entrepreneur is taking calculated risks and I have definitely learnt a lot about how to do that at the College. Developing my own business has not been easy, but the College and their links with employers, have helped me gain the support and knowledge I need to succeed,” Savannah Bickell said.
She added that Kookie Mama's probably had one of the best management – staff relationships in Plymouth.
“My mother and I are probably happiest when baking. We just have the best time, chatting and laughing,” she said.