Interview with career change mums - Louise Nicholson & Kate Horne

Today I interview Louise Nicholson & Kate Horne, old friends who entered the fun and chaos of motherhood at the same time who have five children between them. They have their own business Craft & Crumb where they create brilliant cake kits for busy mums. 

1.     What gave you the idea to start up your business?

It's always been important to us to at least attempt a homemade cake for our children's birthdays. Unfortunately, with busy lives getting in the way, we found that most of our attempts to create a masterpiece ended up in a rushed midnight scramble the night before, and usually a good few glasses of wine too!

It might sound daft to those lucky people who are baking inclined, but for the rest of us, baking your child's birthday cake can prove stressful! From scouring through books and websites for ideas, to ordering edible glitter on our phones during the commute, the process can be very expensive and exhausting before we've even put the oven on!

We would often laugh at our failed attempts at each other's children's parties saying there must be an easier way. After yet another Peppa pig baking disaster at my daughter’s third birthday, the Craft & Crumb idea was born…. surely it must be possible to buy pre-made cake mix, measured out icing sugar, specialist cutters and even disposable baking trays all packed beautifully in one box – but no one in the UK was offering anything like this!

2.     What did you do to prepare to start up your business?

In order to get Craft & Crumb off the ground we firstly needed cake kits to sell and secondly a site to sell them on.  So, building a website, activating social media accounts, and baking and decorating A LOT of cakes in order to perfect recipes were a priority!

Whist all of this was taking place we noticed that Not on the High Street’s annual ‘pitchup’ event was taking place, even though we weren’t ready to go live we decided to go for it.  They loved our idea and were hugely supportive of our concept and branding. As soon as we had kits to sell they were happy to list them and we started sell straight away.

3.     Which aspects of your business did you need help with? Where did you get that help?

Kate and I were complete novices in the world of e-commerce and we recognised that a lot had changed in the digital world since our first babies in 2010.  In order to get the help, we needed we applied for a place on highly competitive pre-incubator programme run by Google Campus called Campus For Mums. We were thrilled to be successful applicants as only a select few businesses are chosen.  The programme is focussed on helping entrepreneurs who happen to be parents build their business and they supported us in everything from customer profiling through to investment and growth strategies. 

As a small start-up business with a limited budget, we’ve also sought help we’ve needed by networking through our social media accounts. Instagram is a fantastic place upon which other small business are active and we discovered there are lots of mums who are using their skills to go freelance – especially in digital marketing areas. To celebrate the launch of their business, they’ve run competitions for start-ups in the family/parent tech sector, to date we’ve entered 2 and won 2 competitions. The first was a ‘marketing makeover’ where a lovely mummy is helping us with our digital marketing strategy and also another lovely mummy who has started a content writing business has offered us her SEO and copywriting services.

4.     Describe what your business does and who you target it at / your ideal client

Craft & Crumb is a fun and unique cake kit company set up by two mums.  We sell beautifully designed kits containing everything you need to bake and decorate homemade cakes for your favourite people. When we started, we focussed solely on birthday cakes but we’ve since increased our range to include seasonal (Easter, Halloween and Christmas cakes) as well ‘decorating only’ kits for those who enjoy baking but struggle with the decorating part.  We also now offer gluten free versions of our cakes.

Our customers are mainly busy busy mothers, to whom it’s really important to bake a home-made cake for their child as it means so much more when you’ve made it yourself. Trying to find the right work/life balance is hard at the best of times but even more so when it comes to organising a birthday party….and then trying to find time to make a home-made cake from scratch?  By providing everything in one kit, mums can get on with the fun part of baking, decorating and planning the party rather than the trawling the internet for hours sourcing the right sprinkles and forking out for oversized pots of edible glitter when she only needed a touch. And the kit is delivered direct to your door so it couldn’t be any easier!

5.     What is the most rewarding thing about having your own business?

There are so many rewarding aspects when working to your own agenda, in your own time and in your own way butI feel particularly lucky to have set up business with a friend which means that the Sunday night blues never set in.  Monday mornings start with coffee and a natter about the weekend before we knuckle down to start the working week.  Partnering with a friend means I always have a sounding board to hand, someone to tease out ideas with and someone to challenge and push you to be your best.

6.     What has been the biggest challenge?

The greatest challenge has been, and probably always will be, the juggling act – but we make it work for us.  During the holidays our ‘meetings’ take place whilst the children play away together – and although it may require some sort of intervention or reminder to share, they are now of an age where the girls will run off upstairs whilst the boys head out to the garden and don’t appear until they are called in for food! It’s amazing how efficient you can become and much you can achieve when there is a limited time frame….and your kids all get on too!

7.     If you could go back and give yourself some advice what would it be?

Don’t give yourself a hard time – be realistic with what you can achieve given that you’re also a full-time mum of 3 kids under the age of 6.  As long as you know you’re doing your best, then be happy with that.  No mum really does it all without having an army of help/family/support behind her.  Be prepared to ask for the help when you need it.