It's fair to say it continues to be really busy at MJ Bakes HQ. I was thrilled to have had so many Mother's Day orders this year (this time last year I was running this biz as a little side hustle and had 2 orders - which I was delighted with!) Oh what a difference a year makes - this one in particular.
I've also been working on some other super exciting projects and have had the opportunity to collaborate with some amazing companies and have worked on some huge orders. But how did I go from being a daydreaming hobby baker, to being featured in glossy magazines, negotiating orders of hundreds of biscuits and discussing NDAs for well-loved household names?
Maybe I should start at the beginning and introduce myself properly. Hi, I'm Mary - nice to meet you! As I've mentioned before, I'm a Chartered Physiotherapist, living in Kent with my husband and 2 kids.
At the start of 2020, after 15 years working in the NHS, I took the leap into self-employment, delivering exercise classes and Physiotherapy within care homes. Having left a management role behind, I was eager to get back to a more clinical role - working with people again, and was a little nervous but really excited about the next new chapter in my life. Little did I know that just a couple of months later the world would be turned upside down, and I wouldn't be able to step foot into a care home for another year and counting. It turned out that 2020 was not the fresh start that anybody had in mind. It's been a truly devastating and challenging time for so many, you don't need me to tell you that, but there were some magical moments too. I'm a firm believer in looking for the silver linings in a situation, and for me that would be having a big kick up the bum to start my own bakery business.
It may sound like a major key change, but as far back as I can remember I have always LOVED baking. I was brought up on home cooking and as a little girl I would stand on a kitchen chair to mix Victoria sponge batter with my Mum and little brother - licking the bowl when the cake went into the oven - just like my kids do now when we bake together! All through my adult life I have enjoyed cooking and baking for friends, baking cakes for birthdays and leaving dos at work. In fact, together with my lovely friend and colleague, we used to dream of having our own bakery business - 'Bake Concern' - and delivering baked goodies to our elderly patients to brighten up their days! Although I never really imagined the dream would become anything more tangible than that. The previous summer I had a little bake stall at my son's school fete and we sold out. I remember thinking "oh, people really like my bakes?!" From there I started taking orders from around the local area and gained a faithful group of loyal customers, who quickly spread the word.
Over the coming months, after lots of encouragement (demands) from friends and family living further afield, who were feeling the FOMO, and now with absolutely nothing to lose, my hobby that had developed into a side-hustle finally became my real life job as my website launched in Summer 2020 and orders started coming in from all over the UK!
By November, I had taken on an order for 1800 personalised biscuits to be shipped to the HQs of several major companies throughout the country, celebrating their good news stories from a tough old year. A bit of a step up from selling biscuits and brownies at the school fete (but just as important to me.)
I'm a very practical, sensible, cautious person and I genuinely believe that if it wasn't for this stinker of a year, I would never have had the nerve to follow my dream and start my own business. Anyway, I hope some of my jumble of thoughts and feelings spilled out on this page made sense and possibly struck a chord. At the risk of sounding like a corny slogan on a greeting card, I guess the main takeaway is; dreams are not just for dreaming - you never know where they will take you. And if a risk adverse control freak like me can take a leap of faith, you can too.
I would absolutely love to hear from you if you have your own story to share. Don't be shy, step right up (believe me - this is way out of my comfort zone too - but a good friend told me that's where the magic happens!) I would love to mix things up a bit and feature some inspirational guest bloggers on here. Are you a woman in business, owner of a fledgling small company, or perhaps you'd like to share your story behind the biscuits - this is where I get really nosy... how did you celebrate those milestone events in the time of Corona? Virtual baby showers, intimate weddings, new ventures, and finding a way to connect with special people that made a difference. I'm talking to you. If you've got something to say email me at firstname.lastname@example.org - I'm all ears!