Small business update – Yvonne Donald

01 Jun
Small business update – Yvonne Donald

I’m thrilled to say it’s hello again to Yvonne Donald from the rather marvellous cake company, Kake and Cupkakery. Yvonne’s first interview was in September 2012, and we had catch-ups in in October 2013 and then November 2014, January 2016, January 2017 and March 2018. Yvonne is still going strong, being careful in what she does and now carving out some essential free time for herself, something that small business owners find it very hard to do! When we last spoke, this was Yvonne’s plan for the year: “Bigger and better so that hopefully I can seriously make a move to work full-time in the business. This business is self-evolving – I plan but things never go to plan so I set myself small goals. Within the next year ideally I want or rather need a bigger space to work, so I think for this year I either need to think of extending or looking for a separate kitchen/workshop space, but I will continue to seek out opportunities and increase sales even more.” So, is that what panned out?

Hello, Yvonne, great to chat with you again. Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

My first thought was what have I done in 2018 but when I look back it wasn’t too bad!
I think in all reality yes, I am where I thought I’d be. I decided that as much as it would be nice to work in my biz full time and have a store front, the level of uncertainty, especially with Brexit looming, makes me twitchy as well as a few cake makers deciding to cease their business, so I’m still doing my FT job but now I cap cake orders to make sure everything is manageable.In other words, I’m not being a busy fool because my pricing is right, so fewer cake orders but the same if not more income from the cakes I do, because I value my skills and time and so do my lovely customers My biz runs very well online, I’ve done a lot of SEO work on my website and so running the biz online is how it will stay for now.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Early 2018 I analysed my biz and looked at all aspects of the business, especially pricing. My prices have increased across the board due to price increases on food and non food products. It had to be done: I lost 1 or 2 customers but gained more than expected.

I’ve become even  stricter in my processes: I now have a dedicated day for admin and non-negotiable days off which is fab, also contact times so I now have even clearer boundaries in running my biz and having some downtime.

Some of my product lines have changed due to changes in trends and I’m getting more requests for gluten free and vegan which is a sign of the times and emerging trends. One of these is for fewer sugar paste cakes, more buttercream cakes (who knew!).

My brand is still growing and running itself (if that makes sense). I’ve got myself a little merchandise going on which increases my brand awareness, which is great after the rebrand.

My most exciting times were that I was asked to speak on BBC Radio West Midlands discussing black women in business with two other panellists, wrote two articles for Baker Magazine, and won another award from Jacqueline Gold, so regarding exposure it wasn’t a bad year!

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I continue with my mantra of saying yes to things and figuring it out later. I was commissioned to bake 850 cupcakes for a cocktail bar launch in Brum. My kitchen isn’t the biggest but I sought out a kitchen to bake in and I managed to deliver – so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Any more hints and tips for people?

* If you have a website, work on your SEO, as it helps so much in helping customers to find you [here’s an article I wrote on SEO that might help – Liz].

* Don’t think increasing prices necessarily means losing customers: those that value you will stay and are your customers, those that don’t are not.

* Seek out those opportunities, Twitter is great for this so always put yourself forward and challenge yourself.

* Get strict with your time: I’ve sacrificed so much but now with firm boundaries I feel more in control. After all, we all deserve some downtime.

* Understand your niche and follow your own path, don’t always feel you have to do what everyone else does. If certain products or services don’t work or you don’t like doing them don’t be afraid to let them go and switch focus.

* Ask for help. My sister and nephew have been great in helping with deliveries and admin and saved me so much time.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

To keep the brand awareness strong .To keep offering fab cake, maintain a strong customer base, increase sales and maybe collaborate with similar small business and overall continue to enjoy and be happy in what I do.

I try to plan but nothing goes to plan so let’s just see where my destiny takes me!

I’m so impressed by Yvonne’s tenacity and ability to keep those boundaries and manage her time. It’s wonderful to see her cake brand going from strength to strength and watching her tread that line between following ALL the trends and keeping to what she excels at. Best of luck for the next year!

Twitter @Cupkakery
Phone: 07837 876604

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