“Have you let 2020 go?” That’s what we were asked yesterday during our latest zoom call. What better way of doing this than by sharing our behind the scenes of 2020 with you. Definitely not all banana bread baking here! Lots of positives filled with a few shockers to see exactly what we got up to behind the scenes during the unprecedented year that was 2020. Looking forward to 2021 too, including a sneak preview of exciting plans to come.
Women who inspired us
Many, but three in particular. 2020 was the year we finally understood we are a business. Of course it took a pandemic to make us stop and realise this.
Attending the Cake Professionals Conference – oh the distant memory of an exciting train trip to Reading in early March – led us to the SEO whirlwind that is Maddy Shine. Yes, search engine optimisation is usually very dry, but not with Maddy. In the short time that we’ve been part of her Visibiliyay membership we’ve learned more than when we paid a fortune for someone (who shall remain nameless) to do this for us.
We were accepted as members of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners (established to promote professionalism within the wedding industry) in late 2019 and it’s proved to be a lifeline throughout the year. Virtual Masterclasses and coffee mornings organised and run by Bernadette Chapman so there was no chance to feel isolated. She also interviewed us for our first Instagram Live.
Last, but definitely not least Jess Collins aka The Feral Writer. Copywriter extraordinaire and business coach. We undertook The Soul Sessions coaching programme during summer 2020. Never before had we looked at our business in such depth and had to explain the decisions we made in the past. The Soul Sessions is not for the faint hearted. We’re still following her advice. Yes, two further lockdowns may have daunted our plans slightly, but behind the scenes, slowly (too slowly at times in Charlie’s mind) we’re moving in the right direction. Our main takeaway – no to discounting!
New Wedding Venues We’re Working With
Two, and what venues these are. Kew Gardens, the iconic world famous botanic gardens in South West London. Are we boasting…yes we are!
The Landmark Hotel, described as an oasis of luxury in central London. What makes it even more special to us is that Yewande and Harry got in touch during the first lockdown. Such a positive boost, when we were beginning to wonder if we’d ever design a wedding cake again. Reader, we did.
Wedding cake makers
We made a wedding cake, in fact we made three and celebrated every one of those weddings. Intimate, micro weddings they might have been, but filled with such joy, nevertheless.
Sadly, apart from the three already mentioned, every other wedding planned for 2020 was postponed. We must take a moment to thank all of our couples for putting their faith in us and their other wedding suppliers for their continual support over the last year and into 2021. By postponing and not cancelling they offered light at the end of the tunnel. They gave us a chance to continue as a viable business when many small businesses, especially in the wedding sector including us, haven’t received any government support.
It’s always about our couples. Finding out all about their wedding and getting to know them over a slice or two of our finest flavours and a glass of fizz is our favourite thing to do. It is our personal approach, timeless designs and attention to taste which sets us apart. Can you believe we continued to book weddings for 2021 and 2022 during each of the lockdowns? We might not be able to meet in person, but Taster Boxes by post and virtual consultations have saved the day. We’re looking forward to follow up in person consultations and of course more cake tasting, when we can meet again.
Pivoting in 2020
100s of ‘Unbirthday’ lockdown treats made. This allowed us to create our online Christmas shop where Afternoon Teas became the best seller and we’re now on first name terms with everyone at our local Post Office.
Plans for 2021 are afoot, with baking going on as we speak.
Absolutely zero, we’re not even sure what it is. The ultimate behind the scenes of 2020 downtime for Erica in particular was jam making. Put it this way if your cake includes jam, you’re more or less guaranteed it will be homemade. Boozy jams are our latest plan.
Zoom calls made
We came to the party late, but have more than made up for it. At a guess 100% more than in 2019 with Whatsapp and Skype not far behind.
Dare we say 1000s. Most of these baked along with our very enthusiastic students. Can you believe between September and November 2020, we hosted six classes. Yes, these were half the size of regular planned classes to make them Covid safe, so only a maximum of 2 students per class, but what a bonus for everyone attending. Almost one to one classes.
Macarons are the name of the game at our Kent based cake school as well as intricate sugar flower filled multi-tiered cakes for those that love creating and want to improve their skills.
Plans for 2021 include hand painted macarons and the infamous macaron tower.
Four times the number in 2019. Do you love Instagram Live? First time for us was an interview with Bernadette Chapman of the UKAWP as part of her “How did they do it…” series about diversifying your wedding business. It’s brilliant, we love the fact you show up mistakes included, and it’s brought out our inner performer. We’re working on a monthly series for 2021.
Taking part in Janet Murray’s online Christmas market was our next ‘live.’ Sound issues and nerves aside, we loved it…we sold some more Afternoon Teas too.
Best part, a follow up interview with BBC Radio Kent.
Two. Squeezed in between lockdowns, Photos from Sophie saw our hand painted macarons and she asked us to make some for her awe inspiring Taylor Swift photoshoot at Marleybrook House all based around her ‘Lover’ album. It’s live on Green Wedding Shoes if you fancy a read and here’s a sneak peak of the photos.
Chiddingstone Castle was the location for the luxury editorial shoot organised by The Italian Dream. Bold pinks, peaches and oranges will make this a fantastic feature in 2021.
Too many. Deep down we realise we’re fair weather walkers, but going out everyday was one goal we achieved in 2020. We’re not quite at Couch to 5K yet, but it’s only January.
Netflix shows found and devoured
We won’t admit to how much we’ve watched, but here’s a few recommendations. Line of Duty, not new but we’ve loved reliving every twisty turny edge of your seat episode…fella!
Bridgerton, our New Year binge watch. We’re counting down to series two.
Christmas films, we started watching these in October and haven’t stopped. Charlie invokes the 10 minute rule every time as there’s more rubbish ones than classics.
One. The only way to have Christmas when in Tier 4.
So that was our behind the scenes of 2020…how was yours?
No, we haven’t mentioned our daily crises of confidence or realising that writing this in January 2021 the current lockdown is more difficult than either of the previous two, no matter who you are. Despite a horrendous year for everyone, which is continuing into 2021 we wanted to round up some positives with our behind the scenes of 2020.
Hello to 2021
Statement, luxury botanically inspired wedding cakes to compliment the most exciting weddings our clients are planning will be back. Be they more intimate than originally planned won’t make them any less amazing.
Spring plans for our online shop are brewing. These will include delicious, extra special cakes on a smaller, postable scale. We want to develop our cake school plans, whilst keeping classes as personal as possible.
We may be a two person mother and daughter team, who are still described as ‘the cake ladies’ but we are mighty. We are creators of cake joy!
We are Erica and Charlie Bell, a mother-daughter team creating breathtaking wedding cakes and macarons from our studio in Maidstone, Kent. We love nothing more than getting to know our couples, and creating distinctive designs that are inventive and imaginative. Our one-of-a-kind cakes that are designed down to the very last (sugar) detail. We deliver across London, Kent, Essex, Surrey, Sussex and beyond.
Want to learn the secrets of sugar craft, create your own favours or macarons? Join us at our cake school in Maidstone, Kent.