Sweet success for bake venture

By Sacha Harwood

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Full of energy and enthusiasm for her new business, Anj Jones is up at 4.30am most days.

The owner of The Girl On The Swing - a new store that sells cupcakes, fudge, cake decorating equipment and homewares at Lynden Court in Chartwell - is living her dream.

The doors opened just before Christmas and already the 13-strong team is so busy it has had to turn away cake orders.

The business grew out of Anj's love of baking. She got back into it after her third child, starting off with candy tables and then progressing to cupcakes.

"I just started making cakes and cupcakes from home and I said to my husband, we've got to move house because I've got so much [cake decorating] stuff it won't fit," she said.

After their move to a bigger house, Anj set up the front room like a shop, and hosted icing parties to teach people decorating.

"I slowly took over the front room, the front lounge, the garage - we had a triple car garage and we couldn't even fit a car in there, and the spare room," she said.

When Five Cross Roads Cake Kitchen began to close down, Anj approached to purchase its cake tins.

"They said, actually we've sold them, but the guy hasn't come back to us, so if you can match his offer or give us a better offer, they're yours," Anj said.

"I said I'll have the money in your account today, and they said yip, they're yours. There were over 500 of them."

As the business grew, so did her schedule, and the move was made into the new store after a series of things that "fell into place".

"I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and you can't sit around and wait for things to happen. Everything just slotted into place and was just perfect. So I knew this was the right thing to do," Anj said.

An ideas person, Anj hassled her accountant sister Janine Brindle with various business ideas and concepts.

"I'd say to her I've got this business idea and she'd say don't do it, it's crap. But when I came to her with this business idea she said, I think it's going to work. And I said to her I think it will, but it won't work without you, will you come with me?"

So while Anj churns out cupcakes, cakes and fudge, Janine crunches numbers in the office upstairs. The pair is looking at expanding and there are plenty of options to consider.

Anj plans on opening more stores and is looking into the idea of a pop-up store in the city centre, along with a revamped ambulance to use as a cupcake truck.

"I want it to be the Mr Whippy truck of cupcakes," she said.

Anj is setting up another Facebook page specially for the fudge the store makes and sells. "It is so addictive!"

Ambitious and full of ideas, Anj plans on writing a cookbook and she jokes that The Girl on the Swing brand won't have "made it" until Anj has her own reality TV show. She's probably not joking, such is her drive to succeed.

But for now, the challenge Anj is facing is demand.

"We're still turning away four cakes every day without fail."

But rather than take on more work than she can deal with, Anj is focusing on doing the job she's doing, and doing it well.

While Anj is a baker and decorator, she's also big on customer service - ensuring every person who steps through the door is made to feel welcome and has their needs met.

She puts her customer service focus down to her years in retail and her training and experience with Glassons in the 1990s when the company put all its staff through the Harry Friedman sales course.

- Hamilton News

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