Indie Oxford Interview: Happy Cakes
We’re so excited to chat to Julia from Happy Cakes on the blog today. We have been supporting Julia since the beginning of Independent Oxford, and love seeing how her boundless enthusiasm and energy has driven her business forward. Find out how she started the business, and what still makes her excited to get into the kitchen everyday.
Tell me about yourself, and how Happy Cakes started.
As a teenager my Dad said my best subjects in school were cookery and art and as there’s no money in art I’d better stick to cookery! I’ve studied catering management at college for 6 years including a degree from Oxford Brookes. I worked in catering in Oxford Uni colleges for 11 years until I had children. When they were small I did a lot of baking for our meet ups with other Mums and kids. It snowballed from there when I started supplying local cafes. The business really shifted up a gear when I started selling cupcakes from my custom trike at Bicester Village. I couldn’t believe I was trading next to Gucci!
What is your proudest achievement through running Happy Cakes?
My proudest achievement is continuing to juggle all the balls involved in running a business. There’s a never ending stream of enquiries seven days a week and of course a lot of baking to do! Not forgetting a huge amount of admin and deliveries!
What is your favourite thing to do when you’re not working?
I absolutely love going to gigs and would happily travel all over the country to see my favourite bands. I’ve made bespoke cakes for loads of bands. One of the most exciting things about my job is working with the fantastic local venues and music promoters to produce cakes as a part of the bands rider.
I also love eating out. I feel very lucky to live in Oxford with so many great indie restaurants on our doorstep. It’s also great to be able to get to London from Oxford so easily to try out the new restaurant openings.
What still makes you really excited about your job?
I love that many of my orders are unique. It’s really exciting getting an enquiry that starts with “this is a bit unusual but can you make……” It’s never ever boring. Recently I baked some bundt cakes in cardboard cake tins which had been designed by an American University professor. He was attending an origami conference at Oxford University and needed the cakes baking to showcase his design. On another occasion I received an order for some bone shaped dog biscuits to cheer up Miranda Hart!
Who are your customers?
I get a lot of business from companies and individuals local to Oxford. A high proportion of my business comes from companies who order cupcakes with edible printed logo toppers in their 100’s. It’s great to work with local businesses and I get lots of repeat orders. I also work with Oxford University for conferences and uni students for their Balls. Every week I speak to customers from all over the world – I deliver loads of cupcakes to students whose parents are missing them. It’s great to receive orders from overseas and pass on a bit of love through cake!
What makes Happy Cakes unique?
I try to make every customer feel special and pay attention to making their order bespoke and exactly as they’d hoped for. It doesn’t matter if it’s a huge order or just a dozen personalised cupcakes, all orders are important.
Tell us about where we can find Happy Cakes!
My presence is definitely more online during the winter months when my two cupcake trikes are safely in storage. I really hope Common People festival returns to Oxford next year as that’s great fun to trade at.
How important is the local community to your business?
It’s really important. I get lots of orders through recommendations and referrals. It takes years to build and hopefully maintain a good reputation. I love being part of the Indie Oxford community.
What is the best business advice you have ever received?
Do what you enjoy with your business. It can take over your life so you’ve got to love what you do. I feel so lucky that even after a hard day I’ll get up the next morning and feel excited about baking my next order.
It’s so great to see Julia work with so many local indies, charities and organisations to celebrate their successes. We are passionate about supporting independent businesses in Oxfordshire, and believe that collaboration between them is a great way to grow their awareness and offer something unique to the public. If you’d like to find out more about Julia’s business, check out the Happy Cakes Independent Oxford page.
Love, Rosie xxx