Teaching – I didn’t expect that!!!
How did that happen I often ask myself? If you put me in a class of my peers I do not think I would be your natural choice for a career as a teacher. I studied Childhood and Social Welfare with the idea of going into social work or counselling. Then real life happened. I met my husband and moved away from Norfolk (UK) and my career was put on hold. I initially found work in a bank, the local council and then the civil service. I then had my two beautiful children and needed to seek an alternative path whilst they were young that didn’t include the disproportionate cost of childcare. Baking cupcakes – less demanding I thought!!! Anyone who runs their own business will know I was in for a big surprise. I started making and selling cupcakes. As you will have read from my previous blogs I am completely self-taught.
I started getting enquiries about classes. This was completely out of my comfort zone. There was clearly a growing demand for it. Did I have teaching skills??? I have never taught anything in my life so the thought of teaching was a daunting prospect. The requests kept rolling in and I decided it was time to put my nerves to one side and take the plunge.
I will never forget my first one to one lesson. I felt so nervous that I might have had a sneaky glass of wine to ease my nerves (shhhhhh that’s a secret). The lesson went really well and I felt excited to book more in. The popularity of the lessons astounded me. I was teaching most days. Initially it was to local people. By this time my cupcake business was well established, I was confident in my skills and felt that I had made the right decision to expand into teaching.
I have always been happy to share my skills and knowledge with other bakers. No two bakers given the same ingredients and equipment will create exactly the same cupcakes. I can spot my cupcakes a mile off. I can recognise other bakers’ styles too. We are all so individual in our work that I never felt teaching was a threat to my business.
As my business flourished, the word was spreading through social media and I started to get enquiries from around the world. It astounded me that students were willing to fly half way round the world to learn from me. Of course not everyone can travel so I needed to consider what other accessible alternatives I could offer. I was being asked on a daily basis if I did online courses. There was no denying that there was a huge demand for online courses but the idea terrified me. If you think the thought of teaching terrified me then standing in front of a camera was going to be ten times worse. You can build a rapport when you are face to face with a student but to a camera!!!!
The first thing I did was to find a good videographer that I felt I could work with. I spoke to several possible candidates on the phone and had to gauge from that call if they would be right for me. Matt from Zest Media is nothing short of brilliant. He is very professional and makes me feel at ease and most importantly we can have a laugh. He is threatening to release my bloopers, of which there have been many!!!!! As long as I keep him supplied with cupcakes he has promised not to release them……. Even his children get excited when he films with me as they know it will be cupcakes for tea. I have now filmed with him on numerous occasions. I am filming new courses every few months and the feedback has been amazing. I now have students from all over the world and from all continents and from little islands I have never even heard of, geography was never my strong point!!!
Alongside the courses, I set up exclusive help groups for my students. These are useful and friendly platforms for students to share photos and ideas and to ask for advice from both myself and fellow members. It has become a really lovely welcoming community and I am so proud of my members who offer help and assistance to newbies, especially when it is down to local issues e.g. where do I get a certain product or ingredient in another country.
I have had the pleasure and privilege to teach some amazing people and I can’t put it into words how it feels to see their businesses thrive.
Checkout @thecreatecompanyng, the owner flew in from Nigeria and has been for several private lessons with me. She now employs 3 staff and the last time I saw her she said to me “You have changed my life.”
I am equally thrilled to see how well Tanya from @sweetbouqetscupcakes is doing with her business which is going from strength to strength.
I am so proud of all my students and what they have achieved for themselves and their families.
Look out for my future blog on Cupcakes for Health and Wellbeing.
My top tip for a successful cake business –Keep it simple and then build on it.