Fairy cakes mania and starting up a business

The summer holidays are within sight, it’s the time for plotting and dreaming, and baking. Last night, along with half the street, my daughter and I were baking cakes for Somalia. Our youngest two children’s primary school has been raising money for its brass band for most of this year, but with 28 children from Somalia attending the school the drought in East Africa seems very close to home. Image Courtesy Cake Snobs Our last whole school fundraising tea raised £650, so we have high hopes of this one, and it’s always amazed me how quick and effective a mass call to the kitchen can be. The fairy cake may seem like the most trivial thing to be creating in the midst of a recession, not to mention the worst drought in Africa for 60 years, but never underestimate its power. After all, Antonia Kime, the Queen of Cupcakes, managed to bake her way out of repossession simply by baking beautiful fairy cakes and selling them, but that ship has sailed. That particur market may be saturated and, if you need evidence, take a stroll down any street festival this summer. I noticed last weekend that instead of a couple of cheap and cheerful cake stalls selling butterfly buns for 50p there were at least six yummy mummy stalls selling vastly over-elaborately iced creations, complete with glittery butterflies and cones of twirls that would shame Mr Whippy, for £2.50 a pop. By the end of the day they were all still there, largely unsold. Why do these women do it? They are breaking the first fundamental rule of business – test the market before you set up your stall and don’t expect other people to subsidise your hobby. A moment’s thought would have warned them. No-one, especially in a recession, and certainly just out for the afternoon with the kids is going to spend £2.50 on one fairy cake, unless it’s for a very good cause, or they have spent considerable time in the beer tent. A quick glance opposite at the Caribbean food stall and its neighbour the stall selling veggie curry and samosas was a visual lesson in the art of entrepreneurship. Lured in by the prospect of a samosa for £1 and a just-long-enough queue, few people were walking away without parting with at least a fiver.  Food sells, self indulgent art rarely does. But don’t let that stop you chasing your dream. If you want to start your own business now is the perfect time to test the market, hire a stall, blag a spot in someone else’s shop, set up your own website and see where it takes you. But first of all do your homework. Make sure you that what you are creating or selling is something that other people need or want. Just because you love finding it or creating does not mean other people will shell out hard cash for it. And start small, you may dream of owning your own hat shop, but there may be a reason there are so few about these days… So before you start planning to rent that quaint little boarded up shop round the corner, do some market research, write a business plan. (Reed and HSBC can help get you started) and see where it takes you. Good luck, and keep me posted. Now, it’s time to ice my fairy cakes (no glittery butterflies allowed). Amanda Scary statistic of the say: Diamonds may be a girl’s  best friend, but gold and silver will keep the wolf from the door. According to research by Lloyds TSB the price of silver has risen by 708% in the last ten years, gold by 457% and platinum by 209%. Deal of the day: Stock up on holiday reads with The Book People and save up to 75% on the price of your books as well as popping 3.5% into your Kiddybank if you shop through KidStart