#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!

5 Steps To Create Hygge At Home

After my recent review of The Little Book of Hygge (which you can read here), I have been thinking a lot about how I can create a more hygge in my own home. I already have an abundance of blankets and books so I have done a little research into what you can do to have a more hyggelig home. There are a lot of different interpretations and opinions out there, so I have put together what I believe are the best 5 ways to add that extra bit of cosy, happy and safe vibe in your home.

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Step 1- Get the right lighting. Hygge is all about soft, warm and natural lighting, to create a homely and cosy atmosphere. This is a great excuse (not that I need one) to get the candles out for dinner or reading in the late afternoon. If you have one, then light the fire, or create the same effect with an electric one. Use table lamps or dimmed lights instead of harsh, bright overhead lighting.

Step 2- Decor and furniture. Natural materials are much more hyggelig than plastic or syhthetic, so stick to real wood furniture. Vintage or second hand is also a great way to add a homely feel, as well as being good for the environment. Also bringing the outdoors inside is good for the soul, so add some house plants and go foraging for some pine cones or driftwood to decorate with.

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Step 3- Food & drink. Hot drinks and indulgent food will add to a hyggelig evening. So when you have visitors pop the kettle on and get the cake or biscuits out. Also the Danes are big on lingering, so if you have a dinner party, take your time with your meal and enjoy the evening, dont jump up straight away and start the washing up!

Step 4- Slow down. We live such a fast paced life so taking the time to slow down and relax will help you enjoy the hygge in your home. Spend an hour or two reading on a Sunday afternoon, pop on a Disney film with the kids and get the popcorn out. Take an hour out of your day to sit and play with your little one or have a cup of tea and catch up with a friend. If you have friends or family round, get the board games out and make sure to stay off your  phones as much as possible.

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Step 5- Contentment. Spending time and enjoying the company of others is a great way to create a hygge home, its not always about having expensive furniture or a perfectly tidy, clean home. In fact, guests will feel more comfortable in a little bit of mess than a pristine home, if they are terrified of touching anything or spilling something then it will be hard for them, or you, to relax.

Being content with your home and belongings is important to create hygge, it doesn’t matter on the size or location, or how much you’ve spent on your furniture or decor. A loved home, where you feel happy and safe and guests feel relaxed and welcome is more hygge than a large mansion with no soul.

As long as you have some candles, tea and biscuits, you don’t need much else!

How To Plan A Styled Shoot

Styled shoots are becoming more and more popular in a range of different industries and for good reason; a styled shoot can be a great tool for any business, from photographers to makeup artists and product suppliers.

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If you can get the shoot featured it will be some fab free advertising, or just some great images for all involved to use on their social media and websites.

For a shoot to be successful, planning ahead is so important. To make your ideas a reality you will need to be as organised as possible and bring a whole team of individuals together. It’s usually best to have one main organiser, but to make sure everyone is involved right from the start of the planning process. The shoot should end up being a collaboration, you want to make the most of the skills and talents of all involved.
I have put the following tips together from my own experience.

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3 Steps To Planning A Successful Shoot:

  1. First you need to plan the look, venue style, and the feel of the shoot. Where you would like it to be featured, on a specific blog or magazine? Its a good idea to put together a mood board of your ideas, Pinterest is great for this.
  2. Then you need to get all the suppliers on board and make sure to choose the right ones for the look you are going for. You will most likely have some no’s, some suppliers may be too busy or it might not be the right sort of project for them, but don’t worry, it will all come together.
  3. Make sure you have a rough timetable prepared for on the day, like who is doing what and when. Plan the order of the shoot (what looks you will shoot first etc). Delegate the right tasks to the right people and remember to let everyone get creative on the day!

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What To Avoid

  • Doing everything yourself, and maybe accidentally becoming a control freak! Learn to trust others opinions.
  • Unreliable suppliers or models- you need everyone 100% on board for it all to come together. You don’t want to be let down last minute.
  • Only one location option- make sure you have a good back up plan if its raining etc, and make sure everyone involved can be available on an alternative day if needs be.

 

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The more shoots you do, the more experience you will gain, bringing a team of talented and creative suppliers together can be a lot of fun and the end result will be something you can all be proud of!

 

 

My Top 5 Smoothies

Last year, in the run up to our wedding, I got myself into green smoothies, in the hope of losing a little weight. I didn’t lose a huge amount of weight but I did feel a lot better for it, they are a great, quick way of getting some much needed fruit and veg into your diet.

Since the wedding my smoothie consumption has gone up and down, (mostly down over the Christmas period) but since the new year I have kicked my butt into action and am aiming to have a smoothie at least 5 days a week.

I have to say, with all the rubbish I was consuming over Christmas, I was started to feel quite lethargic and un-motivated but after a few weeks of being back on the smoothies I have a lot more energy and am feeling great!

I have experimented quite a bit with different ingredients and recipes, so thought I would share with you my top 5 smoothies.

 

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This is my quick and easy go-to recipe and my favourite, with a good balance of fruit & veg, plus the banana and avocado both add extra creaminess, I really dislike a watery smoothie!

The ingredients are:

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The very berry is great if you are in the mood for something sweet, this is also the hubbies favourite, he’s so fussy when it comes to fruit as he doesn’t like a lot of the textures, but loves a cold fruity smoothie!

The ingredients are:

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The super green is great if you’re in the mood for something zingy and fresh, and the apple adds a little sweetness.

The ingredients are:

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Now, this is not at all the tastiest, but its actually a lot nicer than you would think, and its amazing for a super quick energy boost.

The ingredients are:

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Now I know this last one is definitely not a super healthy option, but I have included it in my top 5, as I think everyone deserves a little treat sometimes!

The ingredients are:

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Do you have any favourite smoothie recipes? I’d love some recommendations!

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

The Little Book Of Hygge- Book Review

You have most likely seen the word ‘Hygge’ (pronounced hue-gah) online somewhere in the past few months, there has been a recent hype concerning the Danish word Hygge and the meaning behind it.

Ive read online that the English translation to Hygge is ‘cosy togetherness’. Now, I am all about the cosiness, so I thought I would do a little research and find out some more. dsc_4631

I found ‘The Little Book Of Hygge‘ online and put it on my Christmas list, the hubby did his job well and stuck to my list!

The author, Meik Wiking, is CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen (doesnt this sound like the best job in the world?!) and has spent years studying the Danish way of life, Hygge and, of course, happiness! So, if I’m going to get some tips on how to add a little Hygge to my life, then I think he’s the man to listen to.

I have read a lot of self-help and business style books, but I thought this one would would be good as a lighter read to start the year with. I was right, and my only regret is that I didn’t pick it up last year, so I could make the most of all the cosy Hygge tips over the winter months and Christmas.

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Reading this book, I didn’t have any profound, life changing epiphanies, but it has slightly changed the way I look at certain elements of my lifestyle, helped me appreciate the Hygge moments I already have and inspired me to create more.

Without giving too much away, the main elements of Hygge I have taken from the book are:

  • Cosiness- Curling up with a blanket, some warm socks, a good book and a hot drink
  • Lighting- Candle light, fireside light, natural window lighting, its all about subtle & relaxing
  • Food & drink- Hot drinks (coffee, hot chocolate,tea) and something indulgent like cake or fancy chocolates
  • Home- Being safe and warm in your favourite place with the people you love
  • Togetherness- Spending quality time with your closest friends and family

dsc_4649One of my favourite parts of the book was when the author talks about different languages and unique phrases from around the world, this is where I found myself annoying the hubby most, as I read certain parts out loud (he really hates it when I do this, but sometimes you just have to share!) I had a real giggle reading some of these, such as the French saying ‘rire dans sa barbe’ which means, ‘to laugh in your beard, quietly, while thinking about something from the past’.

If you are looking for a book that will change your life, you may want to keep looking, but if youre looking for something that will give you a lovely little warm feeling in your heart, then this is the one for you.

Most of all, it made me realise (even more than I did before) just how much I love to be cosy & warm, to feel safe and loved and that this brings me a lot of happiness. It has also helped me to see that this isnt always just acheived by curling udsc_4636p at home on your own, but by sharing quality time and experiences with the people you love.
‘Hygge’ is now my new favourite word, I have even decided to change the light in our living room to create a much more relaxing, soft glow of light. Instead of the current harsh, bright exposed bulb shining right above our heads; this is not very ‘hyggelig’ at all!