Looking at the cherub in her arms and a box of her exquisite cupcakes, it’s clear Claire Gardner has a talent for creating things of beauty! The 29 year old mother of one works 36 hours a week as a dental nurse and has recently launched Mathilde’s Bakery with her future sister in law, Sarah.
Firstly Claire, tell us about your gorgeous little girl.
My daughter, Mathilde is almost 11 months old now and although it sounds like a cliché, she’s pretty much the best thing that’s happened to us.
It’s amazing to see her growing into a little person and watching her learn how to be, well, a person.
She’s funny, clever, independent and most of all cheeky.
10 months onwards is such a fun age. She’s so full of character now and it gives us a glimpse of how she might be when she’s older. It makes me very happy that she’s such a happy little girl.
Tell us about your business.
Mathilde’s officially started as a cupcake business in September 2015. Keeping it in the family, the business is run by my sister-in-law, Sarah and myself. Although we specialise in cupcakes, we are expanding into larger cakes and other sweet treats depending on the occasion. We have our own style when it comes to decorating the cakes but we will work with themes and requests. It’s about making sure the cakes look as good as they taste and taste as good as they look. We’ve worked hard to get the combination right. We’re now working hard to get our name out there to prove it!
What inspired you to start Mathilde’s Bakery?
Sarah has been baking cupcakes as a hobby for a while now and I have always had the idea that one day I would have my own business. I suppose after us talking about it for months we eventually decided, why not? Life is short and I wanted to be able to teach Mathilde that you should always try. If it makes you happy – go for it.
What has been the highlight of setting up your business so far?
The biggest highlight is probably the realisation that we’ve actually done it. We took an idea that we’d talked about for months and finally started our own business.
What are you finding most challenging?
There are so many businesses out there trying to do the same thing that it’s really hard to find a niche. You need to be different. You need to stand out. That’s really difficult.
How are you overcoming that?
I suppose you have to figure out what your strengths are and work with that. There’s always room for improvement but I think the key is to be really good at what you know rather than trying to be a jack-of-all-trades, and risk doing a poor job.
How are you juggling your home life, day job and Mathilde’s Bakery?
It’s hard but unless it becomes unenjoyable or it starts to affect my time with Mathilde, I’ll carry on. I think as long as you prioritise it can definitely be done. I’m lucky that my day job doesn’t require me to take work home and I’m also lucky that I have a good network of friends and family around me to help out with Mathilde if needed.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to start a business?
I would say it’s better to regret trying and failing than to regret not trying at all. I’m not saying I think our business will fail I’m just saying I’ll be grateful I can look back and say I tried, whatever the future may bring!
How do you choose your flavour combinations?
There’s quite a few classic flavours on our menu such as Strawberry & Vanilla and Cherry Bakewell, but then it’s all about trial and error as well as keeping up with the current trends. As long as you don’t ask us to put a peppermint icing on a peanut butter & nutella base, most combinations we have are the kind of thing you’d see on a dessert menu and therefore just work.
Just for the record, peppermint and peanut butter do not work. I still have nightmares about the day I willingly tried that…
What’s next for Mathilde’s Bakery?
We will be setting up a stand at a beer festival in Summer 2016 and we are currently in discussions with a wedding organiser to be on their list of cake designers.
We hope to get more gigs like this as well as our individual party orders and market stalls which have kept us going so far.
Long term we’re hoping to invest in a VW camper van so we can do the festival circuit properly and be hired for weddings.
The dream? To own a shop in which people can come to us for tea, coffee, cake and a crèche. Got to have a spot for the kids!
If you live within a 10 mile radius of Stockport you can have goodies from Mathilde’s Bakery delivered directly to your door. Pop over to the Mathilde’s Bakery Facebook page and feast your eyes!