Amy Fitzjames discusses the evolution of her online cake business, her aspirations to expand but stay boutique and sharing the work load with her sister.
What does your business do?
Amy's Secret Kitchen is an online website which makes cakes, cupcakes and treats, and its been going for seven years. We also do bespoke cakes such as wedding cakes, birthday cakes and corporate cakes. We're based in Ponsonby and make between 70 and 100 cakes each week, ranging from small gift cakes people send their friends to tiered wedding or birthday cake. We've got three bakers and three icers.
What was the motivation for starting it?
I started Amy's Secret Kitchen as a baking school holiday programme for children and then I grew into making cakes for the kids' birthdays that came along to it. I saw a gap in the market for an online cake store to make it easy for people to order.
You run the business with your sister - how do you share the responsibility?
I am the creative director of Amy's Secret Kitchen. As well as running the day to day business, online store and managing our incredible team, I create new recipes and cake designs. Charlotte takes care of accounts and business administration. Since having her first child, Charlotte has gone part-time. That's the beauty of a family-owned business and helping one another achieve a healthy work-life balance.
What's the main part of your business - is it catering to the wedding market?
It is probably our online cakes; they are basically a whole collection of cakes we've designed for our online store - there are eight styles, and customers can customise those such as change the colour of the icing, add edible flowers or change the drizzle. That's our main business. We've always offered the personalisation but we've definitely improved that service recently so people can customise a cake easily rather than emailing us a picture - there is less admin for someone to order something a bit more customised.
What does a typical day look like for you?
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I usually start work at home and then I can get all my three main things done for the day, along with some emails, and then I go into the kitchen and kind of do jobs that I need to get completed there. I'm usually there for most of the day or out doing meetings or looking at how we can improve the business.
Jobs on my list in a day can be like adding a new product to the website or staff admin or sending an order out. We use a courier company who specialises in delivering food to deliver our orders. We probably do 50-60 per cent of the week's orders are delivered. We definitely noticed that this year in particular people preferred to get it delivered. The biggest thing we've introduced into the business is doing our same day delivery on some of the cakes, after two hours of ordering.
What's the biggest challenge of running a cake business?
The love, time and labour that goes into everything we do, especially our bespoke cakes. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. We are constantly updating our menu with new seasonal cake and edible gift creations, sourcing ingredients from local suppliers, finding the highest quality baking ingredients, managing the online store - it's more than just baking.
What are your long-term plans?
Long term, we want to expand the business so we can do more while trying to keep the business small and boutique.
What advice do you give to others thinking about starting their own business?
Try and track your business weekly and monthly because then you can see the small growth and celebrate that rather than fixating on the day-to-day, as some days will be quieter than others.