Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Samantha Blears from The Love Bakery: It all began in 2007 in a wintry New York..
It all began in 2007 in a wintry New York when I was visiting for a very glamorous 40th birthday celebration at Soho House. I found myself outside Magnolia Bakery, peering through their window, fascinated by the rows of beautifully decorated cupcakes. I thought, I could do that - I could bake cupcakes, and once back home that is exactly what I did!
Beginning from home, and starting with school fairs, local delis and private parties, I slowly built up a business, Love Bakery. Cupcakes were my passion and I loved every single minute of it - I loved the hours spent in the kitchen, even the all-nighters – the business just got under my skin.
Fast-forward a couple of years and my kitchen could no longer take the burden of the huge orders I was now baking on a regular basis. It was time to broaden our horizons. A shop on the Kings Road was the natural choice, as Chelsea had been my stomping ground since my late teens – so when a teeny tiny store came up for grabs opposite the Bluebird Restaurant I just knew it was the right place for Love Bakery.
And so the transformation of 319 Kings Road began. I chose the colours that I liked – candy pink and citrus green. Against all advice I chose pale French grey paint for the walls. After all, if I was going to be at work all hours, I wanted the bakery to look just how I wanted it. I found a beautiful crystal chandelier and ornate French mirrors which I just had to have. My budget was well and truly stretched! So instead of professional machinery I decided to start with KitchenAids, domestic ovens and fridges. This turned out to be part of our story – cupcakes made by hand using domestic mixers and ovens. Cakes were baked in small batches and the flavours were gradually developed - enabling everything to be seasonal and taste delicious. It was just like baking at home.
I started tweeting as soon as our doors opened at Love Bakery. I remember being thrilled when I had my first follower. Twitter helped me build the business, as potential clients could both read about and see images of the shop and the cupcakes. Our followers were not just in the UK but around the world. I am still amazed at how many followers we have. Love Bakery was also followed by other small businesses and we looked to each other for support and encouragement. It certainly helped me. Running a business can be a very lonely place. Friends and family no longer really figure in your day-to-day life and people soon drift away without friendships being nurtured. This to me was the hardest part of running Love Bakery, but here is where Twitter helped. It made me feel less alone and I received truly generous moral support.
Within a year of opening Love Bakery, I was approached by a publisher, Ivy Press, to write a recipe book. I could not believe it and even now find it hard to believe that I am a published author. I wanted the book to truly reflect Love Bakery, hence the gorgeous candy pink cover decorated with glittery butterflies, fabulously styled photography and detailed recipes – all of which were tested again and again in our domestic ovens. I wanted to make sure that anyone could buy this book and bake from it - I was self-taught and others could be too.
The penning of my book led me to begin writing blogs. This was a natural extension to my tweeting and I was able to write about the things that made me happy. Blogging really helped to flesh out my online personality and reach out to an even larger global audience. I figured that if I liked something then someone out there would too.
Now that I have closed Love Bakery my blogging has led me onto a new project. I am now teaching myself to cook from home. I blog about the recipes I try and the results – good or bad (always eaten though). It does help that I have an addiction to buying cookery books but really I feel that is just the symptom. The real problem is my need and love to cook and feed the people I love. So nothing has really changed then!
Samantha Blears from The Love Bakery can be found blogging at lovebakerylondon.blogspot.co.uk. Her book, Love Bakery – Cupcakes from the Heart, published by Ivy Press is available from Amazon.