#girlboss profile: Emma Woods from Fancie Buns Cakery

Im super excited to share with you the first of my #girlboss profiles, a series of profiles on some amazing female entrepreneurs in creative industries. So to kick off the series I spent some time with Emma Woods from Fancie Buns Cakery, in her new studio in Dorset.

As well as being a wedding supplier friend of mine, Emma is a national industry award winner and an extremely successful female business owner. Since starting in the wedding industry myself 5 years ago, it has been so inspiring watching Emma grow her wedding cake business from strength to strength, from awesome branding to the most beautiful cakes I have ever seen (or tasted) she can be an inspiration to us all!

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Tell us about your decision to launch Fancie Buns Cakery. What inspired it? – When I had my daughter in 2010 I starting making cakes for her birthday & found that I had a real passion for cake decorating. Soon friends started asking me to make cakes for them so I registered as a business and it grew pretty quickly from there.

Were there any lifestyle changes you had to make in order to make the leap? Did you ever doubt your decision? – Initially I worked it alongside my employment as a Small Business Manager, so I was working long hours, late into the night & weekends. I gradually built the business to a point where I could leave my employment, it was a huge decision for me & sometimes I long for a 9-5 job but I know I would get bored of that very quickly! Being self employed gives me the opportunities to grow my business, reap the rewards of all that overtime & keeps me motivated doing something that I love.

The actual process of getting a company off the ground is challenging. What steps did you take to set it up for success? – I desperately wanted to give up my job, so I had to push the business forward quickly to enable me to replace my salary, that was my focus & the driving force. I set myself a goal date for giving up my job & I worked hard promoting the business to grow my order book which then meant I met my goal! I had a very clear vision for my business brand & cake design style.

What does a typical day in the studio look like for you? – My days are quite varied depending on what the to do list is for that day, at the beginning of the week it’s admin & sugar flower making which is a little more relaxed! If its a baking day then the oven goes on straight away & it’s a full on day of baking tier after tier, then lots of washing up! Once the cakes are baked they need filling, ganaching & icing, this will be over 2 days, if it’s summer season then these will be long days. Friday’s are stacking & decorating days, one of my favourite days, seeing the sketch & design I drew up with my couples come to life.

What’s your favourite social media platform, and why? – At the moment I am loving Instagram, it’s a little more informal than Facebook & I tend to do more of a behind the scenes feed. There is a great community feel as well, with a lot more interaction with fellow suppliers & also other cake decorators.

What is your work-life balance like? Do you think such a thing even exists when running a company? – I’m definitely better at balancing this now than my first few years, however during the summer months I have no social life! I have made sure I now book some time off during the school holidays to keep me sane & to spend some time with my family. Having said that working for myself means I can do all the school drop off’s & pick up’s something I couldn’t do before, I have more flexibility.

What have been some of your professional highlights? – Definitely leaving my job, that was a huge decision & I am incredibly proud of making that leap! Winning the UK Wedding Awards for the best wedding cake company last year was just incredible, I never expected that & it’s been fantastic for my business. Last year I was commissioned by Danny & Jo Dyer to create their Spanish themed wedding cake, it was an amazing opportunity & one that doesn’t come along often. Then at the end of last year taking on my little cake studio was just amazing.

What is one thing you wish you had known before starting Fancie Buns Cakery? – The amount of hours I would work, or how much cake ’stuff’ I would accumulate! However I don’t think that would have put me off, I’m pretty determined when I have my mind set on something!

What’s next for the company? – I have recently launched cake decorating classes & this is something I would like to grow in the quieter season. An admin assistant or washer upper in the summer would also be nice!

What advice would you give other women hoping to run a company or propel their careers forward? – Be prepared for a lot of hard work & long hours. Sometimes things might not work but don’t let that knock you, keep going, keep focused on your own business & goals, it will take time but you will get there! A strong network of likeminded self employed friends is invaluable, I wouldn’t be where I am now without that support.

Best moment of your career so far? – Seeing the cake I created in Hello Magazine, that was a very surreal day! The pressure was immense but very rewarding.

What advice would you give your 25-year-old self? – Believe in who you are, always trust your gut instincts & don’t worry about the small stuff!

One thing people would be surprised to know about you? – I took a year out when I was 26 to go travelling, I did a sky dive, bungee jump & got my PADI diving certificate!

Keeping Up The Motivation

Sometimes, working for yourself, it can be very hard to keep motivated. I will be honest, I’m not and never will be a morning person, so just getting out of bed can sometimes be a struggle! I have now resigned myself to the fact that this is ok, as long as I work in the evening instead and get the work done that I need to, I don’t have to be up at 7am (or even 8am) if I don’t want to. Thats the best part of being self employed, you make up the rules!

But how do I motivate myself to work and keep building my business?

  • Mondays are very important, its the start of the week and will set the tone for your week ahead and how productive you will be.
  • The first thing I do on a monday morning (around 10am) is complete my weekly planner, set out a day to day guide of what work I want to achieve, as well as add in any appointments, shoots or weddings I have booked in. Just doing this makes me feel productive and motivated, as I have already completed a task for the week!
  • As I complete each task I put a (very satisfying) big fat cross right through it, theres nothing better than completeing a list full of tasks and having a page full of scribbled out jobs to do.

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So keeping motivated day to day is not so tricky, but having long term goals and aspirations can be a far more daunting task, especially when you are making the rules up as you go and don’t have a boss giving you weekly, monthly or yearly reviews.

Again, I find the best way to get motivated and keep on track is to write it all down, every month or so I set myself monthly, 6 monthly, yearly, and 5 yearly goals. These sometimes change along the way (which is fine), for example, two years ago I wanted to set up a studio space, but as time went on I have developed my photography style and found that the studio thing just isn’t for me and the over heads of a studio space is unnecessary, considering 90% of the time I am shooting weddings. So I am now offering natural outdoor or at home shoots and plan to get together the equipment to photograph newborns here in our office.

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Its good to have future goals, but its okay if they change along the way.

Re- evaluating your goals and aspirations isn’t always a bad thing, sometimes plans change and may take you in a direction you didn’t plan on taking. But without having something to aim for in the first place, you will achieve nothing. As long as you are always looking and moving forward, opportunities will come your way. You may have to work hard and there will be times you fail or have setbacks but as long as you keep focused on moving forward and don’t let yourself get complacent, then you can achieve your goals.

My Top Tips:

  • Putting a weekly timetable together on Monday morning will help keep you on track throughout the week.
  • Writing down your goals and seeing them on paper makes them more real and even more attainable.
  • There are times I get stuck in a rut, or start to feel self doubt about my abilities, but looking back at my goals and taking small steps to achieve the smaller ones, will then motivate me to achieve the bigger ones!

 

 

How I Found My Inner Confidence

I like to think I’m a pretty confident person, I’m not always the life of the party or the first to speak in a crowded room (thats usually Ben, my husband), but I have an inner confidence that almost never falters. This confidence has helped to bring me success in my career as well as happiness and contentment in my life.

One of my sisters once said she had always admired the way I take risks and try new things, like the way I left my 9 to 5 job managing a studio & teaching photography, to start my own wedding & portrait photography company. I had never seen myself in this way, but I guess she was right, and I think its all down to my inner confidence and that I always believe (with hard work) I can achieve the things I set out to do.

However, I haven’t aways been this way, due to a pretty disruptive childhood, as a child and teenager I was fairly unhappy and became increasingly depressed. I had no confidence in myself or those around me. There are times I remember, at a very young age, feeling a huge dark hole in the pit of my stomach and feeling frustrated that I couldn’t shake it, or make myself feel better. As a teenager I had little respect for myself (or my body) and seeked attention to feel a sense of worth. My thoughts were always negative and I would turn to alcohol to lift myself or self harm to ease the pain, I truly believed that I was a bad person and some days truly hated myself. I didn’t know how to ask for help, I shut down and pushed people away.

It came to a head when I was 17 and took an overdose of paracetamol and ibuprofen, I can honestly say it was a pure cry for help and I am very lucky I didn’t seriously harm myself! The hospital and my GP sent me to have a course of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), this was a real turning point for me, it has been the most important and life changing step I have ever taken, I don’t think I would be the person I am today without this therapy. I had 8 weeks of therapy, to learn how to change my negative thinking and turn my life around. It didn’t change me overnight, but the lessons I learnt have helped me every single day since, to take control of my own thinking, change my negative thinking and become the inner confident woman I am today.

After my therapy, I dropped out of college, now I know this is the opposite of getting my life together, but I did say I wasn’t changed overnight. I had been studying Law, Psychology and Photography. Photography had been my ‘fun’ choice, to go alongside the serious subjects, I had dreams of becoming the next Legally Blonde but it turned out my fun choice would end up being my life ambition. After leaving college the next stage was to get a job, and I was rather lucky to bag an apprenticeship for a photographers assistant.

I worked at the studio for the next seven years, growing in confidence and maturity as well as building a career in something I loved and was passionate about, until leaving to build my own photography business.

I recently read a book called ‘Fearless and Fabulous’ where Cara the author talks about feeling the fear, but doing it (the thing you’re scared of) anyway! I believe in this 100%, I feel fear most days and have negative thoughts all the time, we all do, its not something that will magically disappear. But how we deal with them can change, I have these thoughts, I hear them and then I push them to the back of my mind, I focus on the positives, of how far I’ve come already and the negative thoughts slowly fade… feel the fear, but do it anyway! Don’t let your own self doubt stop you from achieving what you are capable of.

One of the best pieces of advice I have been given, is to set your self small achievable goals, then each time you achieve one, your confidence will grow. Its good to have dreams but if you set your goals too high they will seem completely unachievable, you are setting yourself up for failure.

My main aims in life are to be happy, content and have a comfortable income, not to change the world or be a millionaire. I have achieved my goals because they were attainable and I took lots of small steps along the way. Once I achieve them I can set my goals a little higher and then a little more, building my inner confidence along the way.

I recently noticed that when I first started my business, I would find people around me (particularly older men) could be very patronising and talk down to me, but it doesn’t happen so often now. At the time I thought it was because I was young and now, maybe as I am a little older they take me more seriously. But I now believe that it is because I am so much more confident in myself, my abilities and the service I provide. I know exactly who I am, where I want to be and what I am capable of.

Let your inner confidence shine through and lead you to where you want to be!