We are thrilled to introduce you to Lucy, the Founder of Lucy Burton Cakes. Lucy develops, designs and bakes bespoke cakes from the kitchen of her home in Bermondsey.
We chatted about what Covid has taught her about herself, and the importance of being agile in a crisis…
Tell us a bit about you and your business…
I am a London-based baker specialising in bespoke wedding cakes.
I am still a one woman band, which means that all of my cakes are completely handmade, by me, and designed as bespoke. I am so determined to ensure that my cakes taste as delicious as they possibly can - while each cake is different, they all use organic ingredients and seasonal fruits and flavours in their sponges and fillings, and are decorated with beautiful fresh flowers, foliage and elegant gold leaf. I am a firm believer in using ingredients when they are at their very best, and that is why my flavour list is ordered by the seasons.
How did you end up starting Lucy Burton Cakes?
I started my business Lucy Burton Limited in 2017 - it grew out of a long-term love of baking, and when cakes for friends had evolved into order and collaboration requests from brides and brands!
Alongside wedding cakes, I work with brands to develop recipes - and also pivoted my business in 2020 (when weddings were cancelled / significantly restricted!) to a postal brownie and blondie business. It was a bit mad but the support was amazing, and got my business through the rockiest of times.
What advice would you give to other women setting up a business?
Trust your gut, and remember that it’s your business so you know it better than anyone. I’ve found over the years that friends and family often advise caution, and actually what you need to be is ambitious.
Take advice, but also take risks - if you care about something enough, you can make it happen - although if you decide to work for yourself, be prepared to work harder than you thought possible!
Running an event-based business must have been difficult over the last 12 months. What has the experience taught you about yourself?
It’s been the toughest of times, but I’m so grateful for it as it forced me to make a decision quickly to pivot my business. With a season of weddings postponed almost overnight, I was facing what is effectively a year of lost income. So, I started sending brownies and blondies in the post in mid-March, the week after lockdown 1 began. I knew I needed to change my business model, and decided to just go for it and see if it worked out. I initially ordered 50 boxes - and ended up making well over 1000 across lockdown. It was intense but amazing.
You bake from your flat – how do you manage to keep a work/life balance? Do you have any tips?
Working from home is definitely a challenge in that way, and as I run my business alongside working in restaurant PR, I am often baking on evenings and weekends. Over the years, I’ve learnt to block out holiday days and days off at the start of the year, and then to be really strict about not taking orders on those days. When you run your own business there’s nobody else to make you take time off, and it’s so important to make time for it.
What’s the favourite part of your job?
Definitely the creativity - getting to design each cake as bespoke is what I truly love and the reason I do it!
What are the main things you look for in jewellery?
I adore jewellery, but I need it to work hard - I only have a few pieces that I wear most days, so I need it to be good quality and versatile. I like classic pieces like hoops earrings, T bar necklaces, lockets and interlocked rings that go with everything, but also have their own style and history.
What’s your most worn/favourite item of jewellery?
My parents gave me a beautiful antique ring for my 21st birthday. It’s a gold band with a dark sapphire (it looks black, but is actually a very deep blue) and diamonds. I do not look after it as well as I should, but have worn it every day ever since. It reminds me of them and I love to imagine the women who have worn it in days gone by.
I also love my medium gold hoop earrings, which I wear every day.
Silver or Gold?
Hoops or studs?
Who is your favourite woman from history, and why?
So difficult, but I think Mary Wollstonecraft for paving the foundations of the women’s rights movement and starting conversations that have done so much but still have so far to go.