Are you championing independent businesses?

Through my feature, Lula Belle Meets, I’m championing independent businesses and finding out what drives people to become their own boss.

Lula Belle Meets, Dali and Maz owners of Kiss me Cupcakes

I met Dali earlier this year at the Buy My Wardrobe event, in Birmingham, and we arranged to meet so that I could hear more about how she and Maz started Kiss Me Cupcakes.  We met in one of Birmingham’s independent coffee shops and spent a few hours talking about cupcakes, holidays and the joys of being your own boss.

Where did the idea for Kiss Me Cupcakes come from?

We’d heard of cupcakes and tried to order some for my Mum’s birthdays but no local cake shops were willing to produce them.  In 2007 we set off travelling, while we were in Australia, we fell in love with a cupcake shop.  By the time we had got to the Philippines we had decided that we were going to start a cupcake business when we returned to the UK.  Unfortunately, though, we had to return early from our trip, we managed 18 months instead of the three years we had planned.  Whilst we both had jobs to return to we were still keen to start a new challenge.  Neither of us realised just how much of a challenge it was going to be, but we wanted the freedom to  explore how far we could take our new business idea.

How did you develop your idea?

This was all before the cupcake revolution, but the rise in popularity has helped the business.  We sourced suppliers which took a while as we wanted to make sure they matched our concept.  We undertook a lot of research visiting similar businesses in London and tasted a lot of cupcakes.  Most tasted medicinal and the cakes were dry.  We wanted Kiss Me Cupcakes to be natural with each order freshly baked so they are as fresh as possible. 

Was it easy to set up your business?

We had assistance from Business Link to set up the business and develop a business plan.  We both had to develop new skills especially in finance and marketing, plus there was a lot of thinking on our feet and a lot of it was trial and error.  We managed to get a grant to buy equipment we needed to start baking.  We didn’t know if the business was going to take off, but having the right people around to ground us helped.  It took two years to see a good growth.  Thinking on your feet and the unknown is what continues to make it exciting and we wouldn’t give it up for the world.

What are the philosophies of Kiss Me Cupcakes?

Having a passion for what we do ensures that we deliver on our three core philosophies: great service, fabulous products and the best ingredients.  Without these it wouldn’t be Kiss Me Cupcakes.

What is the USP of Kiss Me Cupcakes?

It’s got to be the taste and quality.  Every order is freshly baked and personalised.

Who would you say are your competitors?

There are now a number of businesses making cupcakes, but we don’t really look at them.  There are so many trying to be the same, but we try to be different, we don’t want to offer the same as everyone else.  We’re inspired by life and nature allowing these to influence us.  We want Kiss Me Cupcakes to represent what we are.
What is your strategy for telling people about Kiss Me Cupcakes?

We use a number of ways to tell people about Kiss Me Cupcakes and to get people tasting!  We attend local wedding fayres.   It’s great to use these as an opportunity to market research new recipes by having small taster samples.  We also have a website that details all of our product ranges and workshops.  Using social media allows us to interact with our customers as well as others and we are on Twitter and Facebook.  We have been fortunate to gain quite good PR which helps enormously.  We also attend network events where we get to meet new potential clients.

What have been the highlights so far?

The feeling we get from making a difference to a client’s special occasion or event.  Receiving lovely feedback from making a product that people want and enjoy makes it all worthwhile. 

What does the future hold for Kiss Me Cupcakes?

We’ve got a number of exciting projects and developments coming up.  There will be new product lines and we will be expanding into new market segments.  We will be continuing to run our workshops and make bespoke orders.  We’ll continue to run our workshops and look to offer new opportunities for people to learn.  We also dream of opening a patisserie, there are lots of coffee shops springing  up where you can buy coffee and cake, but not many that focus on the cake and have the coffee as an accompaniment.  This is a much longer term dream, but who knows one day it just might come true!

What would you say to someone who has a business idea and wants to set up their own business?

Our advice would be to start as a side line gradually increasing the hours and if it feels right then develop it into a full-time business.  It is also important that you have the right people around you who can keep you grounded, but also those who are good influencers.

It was clear that both Dali and Maz are passionate about their business, but what really came through was the focus on their products.  Also evident, they don’t feel any pressure to compete against other cupcake companies and are happy to explore and grow with the business.  I got very excited about the prospect of a patisserie in Birmingham, that sells fabulous cakes, but it seems I will have to wait awhile.  

I’m championing independent businesses…..I hope you do to!

Lula Belle x

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