Creating and developing a niche market in Taupo
In less than three years the founders of Baked With Love have carved a highly successful niche for themselves in the artisan cake business. Though they didn’t originally set out with this business in mind, the couple responded promptly to customers’ demands – who quite literally came knocking on their doors – and were quick to identify and develop further opportunities in this specialised market.
Many Taupo locals and regular visitors will be aware of the popular Baked With Love cakery in the service lane that runs behind Westpac Bank. The small red and white painted shop is owned and run by entrepreneurs Kim and Scott Forsythe, and sells individual cakes, doughnuts, brioche and gourmet cookies, all prepared onsite. They also make specialty wedding and celebration cakes of every style.
You might not think artisan cakes, which have a very limited shelf life, could provide the makings of a successful business outside of somewhere the size of Auckland, but Kim and Scott are making it work.
The couple left their corporate careers in Auckland in 2013 having bought a café in the CBD to enable their move and provide them with employment and an income. After successfully building up and selling the café in mid-2015, barely two years after taking over, Kim says they sat down to work out what they could do next.
Baked With Love - Gingerbread Cookies (Business 1)
“We made and sold gingerbread cookies in the café and couldn’t keep up"
We grew the café but for the amount of effort required we were limited as the café had become as big as we could get it,” says Kim. “Then we were approached by two different parties about selling so we thought why not, knowing that the gingerbread cookies were in the back of our mind.”
Following a long holiday with their two young sons, the couple decided to supply individually wrapped artisan gingerbread cookies to cafes and specialty food stores around the Central Plateau and surrounding areas. In late 2015 they began sharing premises a few days a week with a small bakery on the service lane behind Horomatangi Street (the same site they occupy today) and were soon supplying over 30 cafes and specialty stores. Then organisers of Ironman New Zealand ordered 1800 individual cookies for its March 2016 event.
“After the big Ironman order we realised it (the gingerbread cookie business) could be big and we’d need a kitchen all week,” says Kim.
As luck would have it the lady they shared the bakery with wanted out, so they took over the lease and got to work.
Opportunity comes knocking
Baked with Love - Cakery (Business 2)
“While working on the gingerbread cookies people would knock on the door asking to buy cakes so we started selling packets of cakes and gourmet cookies. We had a restraint of trade agreement (at the time) for selling individual items of food or coffee,” says Kim.
The couple then started getting requests for wedding, celebration, and specialty cakes and soon found the cake sales overtaking those of the gingerbread cookies. They eventually decided to put the gingerbread cookies on the back burner as it was a business in its own right and required too much time chasing orders and payment says Scott.
Baked With Love - Eatery (Business 3)
Fast forward to 2018 and not only have the entrepreneurial couple carved a successful niche supplying specialty cakes in Taupo and the wider area, they have further plans to grow. Production will step up another notch when Kim and Scott open a much-anticipated eatery on Marama Arcade, just a few metres walk from their current cakery site. The couple very much go with the flow of how their business evolves and the time is now right to add a pop-up style café/shop to the mix. Their current cakery (and baking) premises is small and to an extent limits the amount of cakes they can produce; however they plan to maximise production by running shifts to optimise the hours available and produce more.
The Baked With Love Eatery in Marama Arcade opens in May 2018.
Once the eatery opens the business will have about 10 staff working on a shift basis to maximise production and allow for job sharing and school pick up times for some of the team. “We all work really well together,” says Kim, who describes the cakery and its atmosphere as “bright, cheerful and happy”. She adds they’re fortunate to have high calibre staff who include experienced cake makers, former café owners and professional bakers. All have a passion for baking.
During the run up to opening the new eatery, Scott, as Baked With Love’s business manager, is attending a business Accelerate programme partly funded by Enterprise Great Lake Taupo (EGLT). The six-month course helps local business owners looking to grow their business learn the tools and techniques to do so. Scott says he heard about the course from several people including Rick Keehan from EGLT and from Darren McGarvie from The Firestation, who runs the course and has helped them with business planning in the past.
“We meet every second Thursday and look at a different subject each time,” says Scott. “Last week it was about pricing, and branding and governance are still to come. At the time of doing some of the course, you don’t always think it’s relevant, then something comes up and you realise it is. It’s also good for building business networks.”
Enterprise Great Lake Taupo
Kim and Scott first heard about EGLT when its general manager Kylie Hawker-Green called in to their café and introduced herself and told them how EGLT could help them. “There was lots of information and organisations we didn’t know about,” says Kim. “We use them (EGLT) as a resource.”
The pair advise anyone considering relocating their business to Taupo or buying/running a business in Taupo is to find out what business organisations are there to help and to utilise them.
Baked With Love - Factory (Business no. 4)
The creative couple also have another business in the pipeline – corporate cookies. The idea is an extension of their original gingerbread cookie business and came about after supplying bee-shaped cookies to Mercury energy company that had been iced in the company’s colours (branding). Initially the couple looked at supplying further hand iced cookies with company logos and branding, but soon found most of the brand managers wanted perfect logos, which just isn’t possible when hand icing.
Not the type to simply give up on an idea, Scott researched various options online and purchased a purpose-built printer that uses edible ink to print picture perfect company logos and photo images onto cookies, cakes, and confectionery. In fact, anything from a M&M to a 150mm tall cake. The printer has a large capacity tray and can print multiple items at a time depending on how many fit on a tray. The pair plan to focus on developing this business once the eatery is up and running smoothly.
Having been finalists in the Emerging Business section of the Taupo Business Awards last year (2017), Kim and Scott say they’ll be entering Taupo district’s Stella Awards this year, which focuses on excellent customer service. “We found the workshops run by the business awards really helpful and also good for networking,” says Scott.
Should the ideal site able to accommodate the eatery, cakery, and factory business altogether come available in Taupo, Kim says they would definitely look at merging them.
She is also looking at ways to develop a new online ordering system for the cakery to allow her more time to focus on cake styling and pare back some of the long hours she puts into Baked With Love.
Despite the long hours and hard graft involved, both Kim and Scott agree making the move to Taupo to run a business they had no prior experience of was worth it. They’ve gone from working for others to working for themselves and have reduced their joint 100km+ a day work travel to just a few kilometres. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.