Known for elegant and delicate wedding cake designs is Kirsty Pickford – owner of Aberdeenshire’s Cakes by Kirsty.
Setting up her business 15 years ago after completing a sugar craft course and making cakes for her and her friends’ children, Kirsty’s diary is now full with wedding and celebration cake orders.
We spoke to the talented baker about all things wedding cake, unique cake designs, why she loves making edible flowers and how coronavirus affected her business.
You’ve been creating stunning cakes for more than a decade – when did you discover your passion for baking?
I have always been creative and enjoyed a range of crafts and I loved baking with my mum as a child. I took a sugar craft course at night school when my children were small and I really enjoyed it. I was then invited along to the Bon Accord Sugarcraft Guild in Aberdeen and was made really welcome. The members there taught me a lot and were really encouraging. I started by creating cakes for my own children and then friends asked me to make cakes for their children and it just took off.
When did you officially launch Cakes by Kirsty? And where are you based at the moment?
I’ve just moved into new premises in the heart of Oldmeldrum, but I have been making cakes for more than 15 years. Over that time and as my skill has developed, I have focused on wedding cakes and have been very lucky to work with many couples to produce some fabulous designs. I’m wanting to expand and be able to offer sugar craft classes to share my knowledge.
Where did you work before you started baking cakes for a living?
I started out in the hospitality industry, working in all areas, but I always had an aptitude for sales and delivering great customer service. It is key to any business and I get really frustrated when I don’t receive it.
What’s the one thing you’d like everyone to know about your business?
Detail, detail, detail! Your wedding day should be perfect and I believe your cake should be too.
Would you say you have a specific wedding cake style?
Wedding cakes are my passion and I really enjoy the creative process with couples to design a cake that reflects their personality. This can include hidden details – I’ve had cakes with anything from rock climbers to tractors incorporated into cakes. However, I’m probably best known for my sugar flowers and more delicate elegant designs.
I also make personalised keepsake toppers that are made to look like the bride and groom. They can have their outfits, hairstyles and flowers.
What kind of wedding cakes are your favourite to make?
My favourite wedding cakes are the simple elegant ones – especially if they feature sugar or fresh flowers. Sugar flowers are so relaxing to make – you can just get totally in the zone and produce flowers that look so real people are shocked when you tell them they are not! However, I also love cakes that are a bit different and truly reflect the couple.
How closely do you work with brides and grooms to be?
I offer a really personal service working closely with couples to create their dream cake. Couples receive sample boxes to help them choose the flavours they would like within their cakes. I also create lots of cakes for couples who are getting married here but live abroad. I work with them via FaceTime so that they don’t miss out on the design process.
How did coronavirus affect your business? Did you have to deal with a lot of wedding cake cancellations?
It’s been a tough time for sure. I’ve had some couples move dates as many as seven times. I’ve always had a busy bookings diary, so lockdown allowed me to make treat boxes, birthday and celebration cakes that I don’t normally get the chance to do. I’m really lucky to have an established customer base of former clients that keep coming back for more. It has been part of my business plan to expand for some years and lockdown actually gave me the time to get those plans into action and my new premises ready for the busy summer ahead.
What kind of treat boxes did you offer during the pandemic?
I’ve always created flavour sample boxes for bridal design meetings and often I would make some extras to sell as even people that hadn’t booked wedding cakes just wanted some delicious cake. I then just expanded this into a box of delicious sweet treats perfect for sharing. They’ve also been really popular with families who haven’t been able to meet to gift to each other as well as people wanting them to use them to create their own afternoon teas or have as part of a picnic.
You previously offered cute Valentine’s Day treat boxes. Do you think you’ll sell more “themed” treat boxes in the future?
Wait and see! Because of the concertina effect of wedding booking moving, my diary is really full this summer and next and I really to like to give bridal couples my attention. As soon as there is capacity, we’ll once again expand our range. Last year, we covered Christmas, Hogmanay, Halloween and more. I’m planning to be offering these again and more as business allows because they’re great fun to make.
Do you work with any north-east producers to create your delicious-looking cakes?
I work closely with many quality venues across the north-east and we are really spoilt for choice. There are also so many amazing wedding suppliers across the north-east and it is always a pleasure to work closely with them and collaborate on projects together.
Would you say you have a lot of loyal customers?
Indeed! You would think that clients would use you once for weddings, but they keep coming back for anniversaries, birthdays and christening cakes. Repeat business is probably the best advertising I can get and it’s lovely to build a relationship with your clients.
That’s amazing. Where do you see your business in a few years’ time?
I’m really excited about setting up my cake school. I can’t wait for the new studio to be buzzing with people all learning cake-making and decorating skills while making new friends and having fun.
Visit www.facebook.com/Cakesbykirsty for more information