Every Monday, we ask small businesses key questions. Here we speak to Chloe Lawson, owner of Chloe’s Kitchen Creations in Alford.
How and why did you start in business?
I have always had a very keen interest in baking, which has come from spending a lot of time with my granny who had a coffee shop in Alford many years ago. When I was 13 I started making celebration cakes for family and friends. My favourite subjects at school were business and administration, so leaving school and starting my own venture was an obvious career choice. However, my original plan was to train as a pastry chef and travel a little.
How did you get to where you are today?
After I left school the opportunity of having my own takeaway cake shop just came to me one day from a conversation between my mum and a fellow business owner in Alford. I gave it some thought, then decided why not? I’ll give it a good go.
I was less than a year into running the business when Covid hit, and I quickly learned to adapt and think outside the box. We started doing takeaway evenings, volunteering and doorstep deliveries.
From this, we began selling wholesale bakes and quickly outgrew our little takeaway.
At the end of the season we left Braemar to finally open Chloe’s Kitchen Creations in Alford in November 2022.
Who helped you?
My family have helped so much, and without them I would not have managed. From washing dishes to delivering, painting, and decorating and baking, they have done it all.
Business Gateway Aberdeen City and Shire gave me so much help and advice to start and run my business. After opening our bigger premises it was through a conversation with my Business Gateway advisor I discovered the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
It has helped with all matters of my business, from meeting new contacts to HR. I was delighted to host an FSB networking event back in September, and everyone is welcome to come along to the Alford Networking Group meetings on the first Thursday of every month, 7-8.30pm at the cafe.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?
To just try my best. These are extremely trying times for any business, but as long as I keep showing up and trying my hardest I know I am doing a good job.
What is your biggest mistake?
Taking criticism to heart. I have put my whole life into the business and at the start I took even the littlest of criticism very harshly. But now I realise my team and I are only human. We can learn from any mistakes we make and criticism we receive.
What is your greatest achievement?
Opening the cafe in November 2022. I never imagined that just two years after opening my little takeaway we would now be running this beautiful cafe. It was always an ambition but I never thought it would happen that quickly.
How are you managing rapidly rising costs and how could the government help?
We are constantly monitoring our costs and have taken steps to reduce our waste, become more efficient and to always price compare.
I feel the government could help hospitality businesses more as we are hit extremely hard with VAT. Everything we sell has VAT but not very much of what we buy has it.
During Covid the reduction in the VAT rate for hospitality businesses did help a little,
I think the government should look again at the rates for hospitality businesses and make the reduction permanent. I know this is something FSB is continually fighting for.
What do you still hope to achieve?
To just keep aiming high and tapping into new markets. We have a lot of ideas.
What do you do to relax?
Spend time with my family. I look forward to days out as they help me really switch off.
What are you currently reading, listening to or glued to on TV?
I love Married at First Sight. You will catch me watching this while baking in the evenings.
What do you waste your money on?
Not very much really.
What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
A cup of coffee – I am fuelled on caffeine.
What do you drive and dream of driving?
I am not really into cars. As long as they get me from A to B then I’m happy.