An interview with Liz Berwick — Simply Scrumptious Cupcakes

#spotlightonshe, sharing stories about local women and showcasing inspiring women who run local independent businesses on our high streets or from their own homes.

What inspired you to start your own business?

I set Simply Scrumptious Cupcakes up nearly nine years ago. The previous year we had moved to Eccleshall after my husband, Richard, got a job at Capula in Stone. Shortly afterwards, we found out we were expecting our first child. While I loved being a mum, I was looking for something to do that was a different sort of challenge, and would give me a bit of a break from childcare all day. I had done an International Business and French degree, and setting up my own business was something I had always wanted to do. I had always been passionate about baking, and would always bake and cook in my spare time (I still do!). That Christmas, I was chatting with my brother (who was making a big career change at the time), we were talking about one of his friends who had set up a cupcake business in Edinburgh. I told him “I’d love to do that!” and he replied “Then why don’t you?”. The idea of Simply Scrumptious Cupcakes was born! I then tested the idea (and cakes) on my mum’s yoga class and local friends. Everyone seemed to think it would be a good idea. I then had my first stall at Eccleshall Festival, and sold out!

What do you like most about your job?

I love being able to create my own schedule, to decide how little or how much work I want to do. It means I can still drop and pick the children up from school and take holidays without worrying about childcare. I also love the solitude and calmness of my kitchen, and the creativity. Being able to create the perfect cake for someone, that not only looks good, but tastes great, is really satisfying. I also enjoy teaching- I began a PGCE in secondary French before I had my two boys, and whilst I adored teaching the pupils, the school environment was not for me. My cupcake decorating workshops allow me to share my knowledge and enjoy teaching, without the pressures. It’s always so wonderful to see everyone’s beautiful creations at the end of a class.

What challenges have you faced along the way?

I work a lot of weekends and evenings, especially during the wedding season. The biggest challenge is getting the right work-life balance, and saying “no”, whether this be due to time constraints or cake type. I have a distinct baking style- making cupcakes, naked cakes and nearly naked cakes- and often get asked to make traditional fondant-covered and novelty cakes. I don’t enjoy decorating in this style and when I have reluctantly accepted, I have regretted it. I have learned to be strict with myself, and now offer any customers an alternative, explaining what sort of cakes I am able to provide.

Any top tips for women starting out in business?

Remember you are the boss! If you don’t like the work you are doing, or how many hours you are putting in, then you can only blame the boss! Work hard and love what you do. If there are areas that don’t light your fire- outsource them. Over the past few years, I have become very passionate about the environment and sustainability. Whilst I have always used free-range eggs, fairtrade ingredients, and sourced locally wherever possible, I have now decided to take it one step further. This year, I switched as many ingredients as possible to organic and am using renewable energy to heat my ovens. I am also working towards introducing 100% compostable packaging.

What’s coming up for Simply Scrumptious Cupcakes?

I have a wonderful range of cupcake decorating classes coming up. The next one is my favourite of the year: Christmas Workshop on 16th December, at the Parish Rooms, Eccleshall, where we are learning to make both festive cupcakes and Christmas cake toppers. Later in the year I am running a Cupcake Bouquet class at The Artisan Boutique in Stone, and my own Unicorn-themed and a brand new Harry Potter-themed decorating class. I am also beginning to fill up for bookings for weddings for the summer months.

Your favourite cupcake is……..?

My favourite cupcake is Black Bottom. This is a moist chocolate sponge with vanilla cheesecake and chocolate chunks baked inside it. I then top this with a generous swirl of cream cheese frosting and with cake crumbs too and grated chocolate. It’s a really unctuous dessert and surprisingly not too sweet, thanks to the sharpness of the cream cheese.

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