Cupcakes by Jess

Cupcakes By Jess is going on a sabbatical!

(Not that kind, though. Baking is my only God) “What’s this?!” I hear you cry, “But what about all the wonderful cakey goodness? Have we done something wrong?!” Do not worry. It’s not you. It’s me!

There are many factors contributing to this break. When I started CBJ in April 2011, I had no idea where it was going to go. I was working one day at my day job, I had dropped out of Uni and I so desperately wanted to bake cakes for a living. I had a lot of learning to do, my decorating skills were pretty poor and I only had a few flavours. Orders were coming in occasionally, mainly from friends or family, and I was working fairs and the social networking sites as hard as I could to get my name out there. I took sugarcraft lessons and worked at my decorating skills. I think I made a £3 profit in my first year but I was over the moon!

The second year started with a bang and orders were coming in every week. This was amazing! I kept at the fairs, kept learning new techniques, developed flavours, kept looking at ways to expand CBJ. I was then also offered 4 days work at my job and I accepted as I still wasn’t earning enough from cakes to pay myself. This was a sign that I needed to work harder. So I kept at it and had a pretty successful year! I knew it was going well!

I’m now over half way in to my third year and everything has started to get too much. With orders and fairs, I was getting far to stressed having to deal with the extra bits that you have to organise for a fair, especially the ones where you sit in a village hall all day and see about 10 people. I used to appreciate just having a stall but they weren’t bringing in orders whereas bigger fairs were. So I decided to stop doing the smaller craft fairs and just focus on the bigger, more popular fairs which were few and far between. My life also started getting busier. Along with the 4 days at work, I had joined a networking group and made some amazing friends (I’m pretty confident to say I didn’t have much in the way of a social life), I started going to roller derby, I started a positive-thinking movement with my friend, me and my boyfriend were starting to talk about living together and I was getting back in to my old hobbies like sewing and knitting. Suddenly, cake making started to get in the way. I was having to take days off work to accommodate the orders that were coming in, my social life was disappearing, I hardly saw my boyfriend, I was getting tired and cranky and my life started to feel like a runaway train that I was just barely keeping up with. I was starting to resent cake making and I did not want that to happen!

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love making cakes. I love making the decorations and I love baking, but I never looked forward to it and it was always a more “Ergh. I’ve gotta bake now” rather than “Oooo! What are we making today?!”

It all became about getting as many orders as I could, which turned into me getting stressed and hating it. I never had the ability to say “no” to customers and they seemed to run my business more than me. I don’t resent my customers and you always gave me exciting orders, I just hate the fact that I could rarely say “Sorry. I’m far too busy this week.”

Another factor is that I don’t feel like a proper baker. I just bake cupcakes. I’ve made bread twice in my life, pastry probably the same, I make cookies occasionally but I’m not confident in making any of these. So I want to learn other baking skills. I’ve always dreamt of a café rather than a bespoke bakery and I want to fill it with a vast variety of treats rather than just cupcakes. Furthermore, as a lactose intolerant, I could never really enjoy what I was making, either. So I want to branch out into baking for allergies and learning about how the ingredients react to each other and why they do what they do and how I can replace them, etc. I’ve always had dreams of what I wanted to do, things I wanted to learn and courses I wanted to go on but never could as I was just far too busy making cupcakes.

I don’t know what is going to happen during my break. I might miss cupcakes so much that I will return to it after a few months. I might find out that cupcakes are the only thing I can bake. I might find that I’m sick of baking and never want to see baking powder ever again (although, I HIGHLY doubt that. I’m pretty sure I’ll be baking for the rest of my days.) I’m hoping to return with a new selection of goodies for you, not just cupcakes, and to do it on a more casual basis. I want it as a hobby rather than a knuckle-down serious business. Baking’s far too fun for that!

I want to thank all my absolutely amazing customers! You guys ROCK! You trusted in this fledgling baker and helped turn it into something awesome (I just wish I could tame this spectacular beast we’ve created!) and I wouldn’t have got anywhere without you!
So for now it is farewell, but it is not goodbye! I will back soon, just you wait and see!

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