We’re on day eleven! I hope you’ve enjoyed the series so far but there are still some wonderful businesses to share, including today’s guest…
Hello and welcome to This Northern Gal! Would you like to start by introducing yourself?
Hi my name is Lisa Shepperson and I live in Hurworth just outside Darlington. I recently started my own business last year in November 2019 after leaving full time work as an Administrator, due to some ups and downs with my health.
And what about Casa Cakes! Don’t forget to introduce that too!
I started my own small artisan home based cake business Casa Cakes, last year, having been dreaming about working for myself and doing something that I really enjoyed and didn’t feel like ‘work’. It initially all started as a hobby, baking for friends and family, taking my cupcakes into work for the staff. Colleagues kept passing little comments like, ‘These are lovely, you should be doing this as a business’, and when people say it often enough I guess, the seed gets planted!
I initially started doing a few Craft Fayres, just to see if I could and if my cakes would sell – and the did, so that was it. It took a little while to to take the plunge fully and do it as a business, but I am happy now that I did.
But it’s not just Casa Cakes. It’s my understanding that you also run a second business!
Yes, that’s right! It wasn’t my intention to buy a second business, but the opportunity arose. We thought about it on and off for a year or so before we finally, just at the beginning of this year (as the rest of the Country went into the first lockdown)became the new owners of ‘Crumb’!
‘Crumb is an online Afternoon Tea, Letterbox Gifts Business, and I share the business with my friend and previous colleague Kate, We run the business from two sites, which are each of our homes.
Currently, I do all the packing of the boxes and posting out whilst Kate does the more business side, paperwork and finance. It works well as we each have our strengths, and as we had worked together previously we know that we complimented each other and were a good team!
Wow! That must be busy! How do you balance the two?
It can be very busy and to be honest I am still adjusting from having just one business to balancing both businesses.
I usually do my baking for Casa throughout the day, whereas with ‘Crumb’ the cakes are supplied from a local Yorkshire Bakery and its more about the packing of the boxes for that ultimate ‘Afternoon Tea’ experience. We provide napkins, doilies, teabags and coffee, along with the 5 varieties of cake, which are packed into letterbox friendly crisp white boxes and then the boxes are wrapped in brown parcel paper, so it;s like a traditional parcel the recipient receives through the post. They are lovely and taste delightful too!
I usually sit in the evenings at my kitchen table with everything at hand ready to pack! We are starting to get busier with orders for Crumb coming through and to be honest, if it means some evenings I have to sit up later, that’s just the way it is. When you run your own business, it has to be done!
However, it also gives me more flexibility as I can, to a certain extend, decide the days when I work. I do usually end up doing something for either one of the businesses most days!
What’s it like being a small business owner at Christmas?
Usually this time of year I am really busy. This time last year I attended lots of Christmas Markets and Fayres but of course due to the ‘C’ word things have been very different. I haven’t made so many Christmas Cupcakes this year, and last year planning for all the Christmas events started at about the end of August.
Last November was crazy: I had events nearly every weekend and then one or two through the week also. I did spend some evenings up at 2 am icing cakes! It hasn’t been like that this year and to be honest I have really missed not being out and about, meeting and chatting with customers, though I definitely haven’t missed icing cakes at 2 am! I still love Christmas though, its just a magical time!
It really is! What will you be doing when you ‘close the doors’ on Christmas Eve?
I do have a final order for a birthday cake to be delivered on the morning of Christmas Eve, but after that I will be probably frantically trying to tidy up and I always end up wrapping presents, usually for my daughter and husband at the very last minute, probably with a Gin & Tonic by my side!
Don’t forget your presents too! What do you hope to find under the tree this year?
I am quite fancying a really nice necklace, something that I can wear all the time, and not have to take off when I have a shower cause it will discolour!
Or a bottle of gin – you might guess I like that!
Me too! If you could recommend just one thing to a new customer, what would it be?
Well definitely try our Afternoon Tea boxes by Crumb! I have just made up some lovely ‘Festive Afternoon Tea’ boxes, which include sandwiches, grapes, tomatoes, home made mince pies and Christmas Cake, home made cheese and fruit scones and homemade rocky road, along with Tea and Coffee bags, napkins, doilies and Christmas Crackers!
And finally what’s new for all things Casa Cakes and Crumb in 2021?
Well for Crumb, we are hoping to extend our range to include a ‘Movie Nights’ box, ‘Hot Chocolate’ Box and a ‘Cake & Cocktails’ box. We may also be longer to introduce some new cake flavours also.
For Casa Cakes, I would really like to concentrate on growing my business and social media following. I am also hoping to finally get some cupcake menus written up for my Facebook page, so people don’t need to ask me what flavours I do!