Since opening her own cake-making business and boutique shop Hollie’s Little Cakery a year ago, entrepreneur Hollie O’Callaghan is going from strength to strength. Eileen Leahy catches up with the queen of bakes to discover the secret of her success
So Hollie, please can you give us a brief history of your business and how it came to launch?
Around five years ago, I started baking for friends and family from my tiny family kitchen in Southborough. Business boomed a lot faster than I had anticipated, and as my talent and confidence grew, demand for my bakes increased – and here I am one year into opening my own studio. I now have two members of staff, and we are churning out our largest ever number of bakes each week.
Why did you decide to start running your own cake-making business?
I’m a control freak! I always loved the idea of having my own business and being in control of my own future. I like the idea of something I can build and put my passion and personality into. Cakes allow me to do all of this in a creative way.
Is it something you have always wanted to do?
I always loved making a mess – however, my mum did not! So when I’d ask to make cakes every week I was quickly shut down. Maybe I’m making up for all that lost time?
How long did it take you to get your own premises, and how is it working out?
It wasn’t until three and half years into it that I decided to take the plunge and make my dream of having my own premises a reality. The past year has been a whirlwind of ups and downs, but I have met some amazing people and achieved so much. This includes employing those two people – Nicola our baker, otherwise known as ‘Bon’, and Allya, who is our admin chief and prone to the odd operatic outburst! All three of us have nicknames, actually. Allya is LaLa and I am Bean.
What are your bestselling products, and why?
Our bespoke cakes will always be our bestseller because we are constantly striving to create something new that narrows the boundary between cake and art. What we really love is that no two cakes are ever the same.
Are most of your clients local, or do they come from further afield?
We are lucky to have an array of regular local clients that we have created cakes for since the very beginning. In many cases, we have followed their lives and been able to make cakes to celebrate milestones such as engagements, weddings, baby showers, christenings and first birthdays. It’s such an honour to be part of these occasions and see families grow. However, we have also recently gained many customers from elsewhere in the country, including London and the north of England, and even from abroad. The future is looking bright.
How important is the digital and social media side of your business?
Very important, it allows all of our existing and potential clients to be updated with our newest creations and showcases our developing talents.
Do you have any celebrity clients?
We are still waiting for our invitation to create the royal wedding cake for Meghan and Harry!
Who are your cake-making heroes?
There are so many these days, including Cake Ink, Cotton & Crumbs, Rosalind Miller, Poppy Pickering and Willow and Bloom.
What are your plans for 2018 and beyond?
World domination – one cake at a time…
Hollie’s Top Baking Tips
1 To avoid sugar lumps in your buttercream, beat half the butter with all of the sugar until there are no lumps, then add the remaining butter for a smooth, fluffy buttercream
2 Keep your eggs at room temperature, as if they are cold they will curdle. We warm ours
in a cute little lukewarm water bath
3 When using sugar paste, make sure to knead it for a good five minutes before rolling or you will get cracks
4 When making cupcakes, use a piping bag to distribute your mix into the cases. This gives you more control of quantity, creating an even batch of cupcakes that are perfectly domed every time!
5Secret tip! No 5 – always bake with some sweet, sweet lovin’, because hey, even if the cake sinks, there’s always cake pops!
Three Tools you’ll ‘knead’ for perfect decorating:
– An offset or angled palette knife
– A metal bench scraper
– Piping bags